Fulbright College Announces 2021 Annual Faculty Teaching and Research Awards

University Relations

The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the U of A has named the 2021 winners of its annual teaching and research faculty awards. The recipients were each selected for their demonstrated excellence in these areas.

"Honoring our phenomenal and inspiring faculty members is so important, and each year selecting the honorees becomes more and more difficult as so many of our folks are doing such stellar and vital work to help our students succeed and to advance research in their respective fields," said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College.

"We could not be prouder to introduce our 2021 awardees, many of whom have been going above and beyond in their service and research for years," Shields added. "These folks consistently demonstrate the highest levels of dedication, professionalism and passion, which betters our college and the world beyond."


The college honors up to three outstanding teachers annually, and selection is based on a letter of nomination, teaching evaluations and documentation about the nominee's teaching activities.

The 2021 recipients include:

Douglas Adams, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, whom his colleague and nominator Mindy S. Bradley describes as "a kind and devoted teacher" who "brings creativity and enthusiasm to the classroom." Adams regularly teaches the department's General Sociology course, helping hundreds of students each semester to stay "in the flow or zone, the cognitive area of focus where students are actively learning and engaged." Bradley said Adams is "always revising and trying new things" such as teaching strategies rooted in social psychology, and that he is often the first faculty member the department's students meet since he's so involved in recruitment, too. Department chair Shauna Morimoto added that Adams' "energy is infectious, while his compassion is enduring. His classroom presence, combined with his innovative teaching techniques and the application of his research to his teaching underscore his pedagogical excellence and enhance Fulbright College as an institution, as well as the lives of the many students he teaches."

Lorraine Brewer, instructor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, whom her colleague and nominator Francis Millet describes as unmatched in innovation and dedication to her students. For the past 44 years, Brewer has taught University Chemistry and multiple other courses. However, as Millet said, "University Chemistry is the most demanding and important course in our department since it provides the critical foundation of chemistry required for all our other courses. [It] is also the most difficult course to teach in our department because it has the largest number of students and the greatest variation in student backgrounds. [Brewer] usually teaches over 1,000 students a semester in different sections of over 200 each and has often taught in difficult environments including Barnhill Arena." Despite the challenges this might present in connecting with individual students, Brewer is known for doing exactly that, forming "a close relationship with each of her students" and excelling as an "outstanding mentor" to students and younger faculty alike.

Rhodora Vennarucci, assistant professor of classics in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, whom her colleague and nominator Daniel Levine describes as spellbinding and impressive, adding that "her students' love of her teaching make me envious; her energy in encouraging student learning and research amaze me." Vennarucci teaches in a wide variety of areas, including classics, history, art history, archeology and Latin, as well as helps students succeed through mentoring, advising, study abroad opportunities and program building. Levine noted that Vennarucci's ability to "reach out to all of her students and encourage them to continue their studies with renewed vigor" ultimately "empowers her students," and "it is no exaggeration to say that she actually makes them stronger." Steven Bell, the department's chair, added that "even in a department blessed with many outstanding and award-winning teachers such as ours, professor Vennarucci stands out as a truly stellar figure in the art of teaching … the comprehensive scope of [her] talents and activities documented is truly astonishing."


The honor is awarded to up to three outstanding researchers. Awardees are chosen based on a nomination letter, the nominee's research accomplishments documented in a one-page summary of his or her research outlining its importance, a list of 10 publications, supporting evidence of exceptional performance in research, his or her curriculum vitae and an evaluation by the departmental chairperson.

The 2021 recipients include:

Kevin Fitzpatrick, University Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, whom his nominating colleagues describe as "an outstanding scholar" with a research record to match. As a researcher of community health, Fitzpatrick's scholarship is both "wide-ranging and intellectually rigorous." He has published three monographs, three edited volumes and over 50 peer-reviewed refereed articles and book chapters. Department chair Shauna Morimoto added that Fitzpatrick also secured $4 million in research funding and an additional $900,000 grant to build the Community Family Institute, which he directs. Morimoto said Fitzpatrick has "made prodigious contributions to the field of sociology, with extraordinary impact on scholarship and community. He is an exemplary researcher in the most classic sense, with an insatiable mission to understand the causes and correlates of contemporary social problems, with the knowledge that doing so is the only way to begin to address these issues. … [He] is able to make a significant contribution to scholarly literature … while simultaneously changing the day-to-day lives of the most vulnerable people in local communities - in terms of their access to food, housing, healthcare and social services."

Douglas Rhoads, University Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, whom his department chair and nominator David S. McNabb describes as "an accomplished academic researcher with a global reputation" who in 2020 alone published a co-edited book on genomics research in poultry science, published six refereed journal articles with an additional manuscript submitted, was awarded nearly $160,000 in new funding on top of the $500,000 of his existing funding as the PI and the $10 million in funds as a co-PI, and presented internationally. McNabb said Rhoads has been exhibiting this stellar level of research activity since joining the U of A in 1990 to bring molecular genetics research to the university. Rhoads also helped establish and directs the Cell and Molecular Biology Program and is "at the forefront of developing industry partnerships in research," McNabb said. Rhoads has also served as mentor to dozens of students at all collegiate levels as well as postdoctoral or visiting scientists, demonstrating "his commitment to training the next generation of scientists." These high-volume and high-profile research and training activities speak directly to the "distinguished quality of Dr. Rhoads' research," McNabb added.

Sean Teuton, professor in the Department of English, whom his nominating colleagues describe as someone they "are exceedingly fortunate to have on our faculty." Teuton is a foremost scholar in Native American studies and has published extensively in the field of Native American literature and Indigenous studies. "His three groundbreaking books and numerous articles have reshaped these fields … among other tributes, renowned Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday deems Dr. Teuton's Native American Literature 'a compendium of the human condition,'" said his colleague, Susan Marren. Teuton is the author of Native American Literature: A Very Short Introduction; Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (co-authored with the Native Critics Collective); and Red Land, Red Power: Grounding Knowledge in the American Indian Novel. William A. Quinn, chair of the Department of English, said Teuton's work "will influence how readers think about Native American literature, as well as how they think about Native American history, experiences and contributions to American society in general." With another manuscript under final revision and work on another book well underway, Quinn said Teuton "promises to continue to be exceptionally productive as an internationally recognized scholar."


This award recognizes a faculty member's exceptional contributions to the departmental or college advising program. Awardees are chosen based on a letter of recommendation from someone who is acquainted with the candidate's work as an advisor along with letters of support from colleagues and former students.

The 2021 recipient is:

Ron Warren, associate professor in the Department of Communication, whom his department chair and nominator Stephanie Schulte describes as "the most talented and dedicated adviser I have ever seen" who is "exceptional in his dedication, compassion, responsiveness, sensitivity to individual needs and mental flexibility" as well as "generous with his time and attention, and always ready to share his extensive institutional knowledge with students and colleagues." Schulte said Warren has served the department in numerous leadership and advising capacities. Some of these many roles include being faculty adviser for Lambda Pi Eta and Honors Program Advisor. He was also the department's first undergraduate director and helped revise the B.A. program. Warren has directed dozens of undergraduate honors theses, independent study research projects and Honors College Research grants, as well as directing or serving on more than 100 M.A. graduate thesis, dissertation, and comprehensive exam committees. He also helped the communication graduate program refocus on civic engagement, which received national acclaim. His students have found academic and media industry success, and frequently note how Warren helped them achieve these accomplishments through being so invested in "building up students and faculty, in helping them achieve their dreams."


This award is given to a Fulbright College graduate assistant in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the college and university. Awardees are chosen based on a letter of nomination, a recommendation by the departmental chairperson, assessments of classroom visitations and other types of departmental review, his or her curriculum vitae, letters of support from faculty and peers as well as current and former students, a list of courses taught at the university and a summary of student evaluations for each course.

The 2021 recipient is:

Dené Wamsley, in the Department of Psychological Science, who was nominated by her doctoral adviser, professor Denise R. Beike. Wamsley has served as Beike's support teaching assistant and lab manager, as well as supervised an undergraduate honors thesis under Beike's direction. "She has demonstrated excellence in every type of teaching: in the classroom, remotely, in the laboratory, of facts, of research, of writing. Her experience, drive and heart make her the best graduate student teacher in Fulbright College," Beike said. "Dené works passionately to make material accessible and lively to students. She also structures her courses and assessments in a way that maximizes student learning. … She is there for students, patiently and selflessly offering time to help them succeed. … I can't imagine a graduate student teacher more worthy of this prestigious award."


Andra Parrish Liwag, director of communications
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4393, liwag@uark.edu


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