2024 Winners of King, Nolan and OMNI Faculty Awards Announced

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The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the U of A has selected the 2024 recipients of several of its most prestigious endowed faculty awards, including:

"These distinguished faculty members have made outstanding contributions to our college and their respective fields that reflect an incredible amount of academic excellence and dedication," said Kathryn Sloan, outgoing interim dean of Fulbright College. 

"Their commitment to our college and students is commendable, and we are so fortunate to have them," Sloan added. "They are a true inspiration."

John E. King Award 

The John E. King Award for Outstanding Service was created and endowed by Fulbright College faculty members to recognize colleagues who exhibit exemplary service to the campus and community. They named the award for King, a professor of social work, as a tribute to his "leadership and extraordinary ethic and record of good deeds."

Recipient Michael Pierce's research delves into Arkansas' political evolution, studying the shift from New Deal liberalism to corporate-friendly policies. He leads the Nelson Hackett Project at the U of A Humanities Center, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue as part of the Arkansas Stories of Place and Belonging initiative. 

Pierce's scholarly contributions include the book Striking with the Ballot: Ohio Labor and the Populist Party and co-editorship of volumes such as Race, Labor, and Violence in the Delta. His essays feature in prestigious journals like the Journal of Southern History, demonstrating his significant impact on historical discourse.

In addition to receiving the King award, Pierce's previous accolades include the Outstanding Faculty Member Award, the Fulbright College Justice and Ecology Award, the Connor Endowed Faculty Fellowship and the OMNI Center for Peace Fulbright Justice and Ecology Award.

"Mike Pierce is an exceptional historian, educator and public servant," said Caree Banton, chair of the Department of History. "His leadership of the Nelson Hackett Project and unwavering commitment to academic excellence serve as exemplary models for both his students and colleagues."

The Nolan Faculty Award

The Nolan Faculty Award was endowed by the William C. and Theodosia Murphy Nolan Foundation to support the career advancement of faculty members who provide the highest quality teaching research and service to the college.

Recipient Freddy Dominguez is a historian specializing in the study of Early Modern Europe. He is the author of several noteworthy publications, including Radicals in Exile: English Catholic Books During the Reign of Philip II and Bob Dylan in the Attic: The Artist as Historian

Currently, Dominguez is working on projects exploring figures like Luisa de Carvajal and Maria da Visitacao, showcasing his dedication to uncovering narratives of sanctity and political intrigue in Early Modern Europe.

In addition to his research, Dominguez serves as the book review editor for the Sixteenth Century Journal. He is likewise committed to mentoring graduate students, welcoming opportunities to guide those interested in European history, particularly in politics and religion. 

"I want to extend my congratulations to Freddy, another distinguished colleague in the Department of History, for his unwavering commitment to the college and significant contributions to our field," Banton said. "His research achievements are exemplary, and his dedication to his students is equally commendable."

"I look forward to the promising trajectory of both Freddy's career and the future of our department, led by such accomplished individuals," Banton added.

OMNI Center Peace Award

The OMNI Center for World Peace and Justice Faculty Award was created to "recognize exceptional research, teaching and service by faculty who promote the studying and teaching of peace and justice and the practice of nonviolence, conflict resolution and diplomacy."

Recipient Angela Mensah is a scholar of mass communication theory and research who is especially interested in exploring the intersections of body image and African American women through her work in both the Department of Communication and the African and African American Studies Program. 

Likewise, she is also devoted to developing service-learning opportunities for students, reflected by her recent National Communication Association Activism and Social Justice Division Pedagogy award for her leadership in creating the "Communicating Body Image" course.

Mensah has published several articles in accredited journals such as The Journal of Intergroup Relations and has presented at conferences across the globe, like those held by the National Binge Eating Disorder Association, The Central States Communication Division and The National Communication Association, to name but a few. 

"Angela has been instrumental in fostering service initiatives at Fulbright College, and I am exceedingly proud of her notable achievements during her tenure," said Matthew Spialek, chair of the Department of Communication. "Her research endeavors stand as a testament to her dedication and skill."

OMNI Keeling/Hansen Award

The OMNI Keeling/Hansen Climate Science Award was created to "promote cutting-edge climate science research conducted by Fulbright College faculty and students in developing knowledge of the causes and impacts of global climate change, in developing tangible solutions to mitigate global climate change and its deleterious effects on humanity and global ecosystems, and in communicating the urgency of the climate catastrophe."

Recipient Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, boasts a rich career blending academia and fieldwork. With more than 230 published scientific works, including publications in renowned journals like Science and Nature, Ungar's research centers on diet reconstruction and environmental impact on human evolution, particularly through analyzing fossil teeth. 

He's also been recognized for pioneering techniques in surface analysis technology, revealing insights from tooth shape and wear patterns. Additionally, Ungar maintains active memberships after being selected to join prestigious institutions like the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

His work has also been featured in TED-Ed videos and documentaries, garnering international attention and invitations to speak at venues such as the Royal Society in London and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

"Peter's exceptional contributions to our faculty are truly commendable, and I extend my congratulations to him on this latest honor," said Joseph "Mike" Plavcan, chair of the Department of Anthropology. "His pioneering initiatives and unwavering commitment to our institution serve as a shining example within our community."


Payton Willhite, digital and content support specialist
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-6644, powillhi@uark.edu

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


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