Award-Winning WT Faculty, Staff Honored at Year-End Celebration

Chip Chandler May 04, 2022
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Award-Winning WT Faculty, Staff Honored at Year-End Celebration

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — Outstanding members of West Texas A&M University’s faculty and staff were honored during an end-of-year meeting April 28.

“Outstanding faculty and staff are the most critical asset of a great university,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. “WT is fortunate to be the academic home of numerous faculty and staff members deserving recognition. Winning one of the university awards is a special moment in a professional career and one of the highest honors one can earn from peers, students, administration and campus stakeholders.”

Honorees are selected for their impact on WT students and stakeholders through excellence in instructional responsibilities, intellectual contributions, professional service, and the advancement of graduate programs.

Each year faculty members also are recognized in the six academic colleges for accomplishments in the core areas of teaching, research and service. University-wide recognition demonstrates one of the highest levels of respect a faculty member can achieve based on the nomination and selection process, including input from peers, administrators, students and other campus stakeholders. 

Dr. Maxine De Butte, associate professor of psychology in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences, won the Instructional Responsibilities Excellence Award. According to Dr. Lisa Garza, head of the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work, De Butte excelled in transitioning to online teaching during the Covid lockdown period. “She allowed us to grow, gave us everything we needed and more,” wrote one student in an evaluation. “If you ever needed help, she was there.”

Dr. Leslie Ramos Salazar, the Amjad Abdullat Professor of Business Communication and Decision Management in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, won the Intellectual Contributions Excellence Award. “Dr. Ramos-Salazar is an outstanding researcher in her field,” said Abdullat, dean of the Engler College of Business. “Within the last three years, she has published 17 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of business communication, healthcare, and business education.”

Dr. Joshua Partheepan, assistant professor of systems engineering in the College of Engineering, won the Professional Service Excellence Award. Partheepan assumed additional administrative and instructional duties following the sudden death of Dr. Chun Yat “Gerald” Chen in September 2021, adding two undergraduate courses, a graduate research class and all of the undergraduate advising for this program to his duties. He also updated an engineering fundamentals course to accommodate 40 Canyon Independent School District students as part of a new pre-university program.

Dr. John Richeson, associate professor of animal science and graduate program coordinator in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, won the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award. In the past two years, Richeson has secured nearly $2 million in grants, research gifts and contracts, and has tirelessly worked to support intellectual contributions and research across his department and the University as a whole, said Dr. Lance Kieth, associate dean and department head.

In addition to De Butte, college faculty award winners for instructional responsibilities also include:

  • Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Science: Dr. Carolyn Bouma, associate professor of biology;
  • Engler College of Business: Karen Cooley, instructor of accounting;
  • College of Engineering: Dr. Sanjoy Bhattacharia, assistant professor of mechanical engineering;
  • Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities: Dr. Enyonam Osei-Hwere, associate professor of media communication; and
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Dr. Gene Farren, assistant professor of sports and exercise science.

In addition to Richeson and Ramos Salazar, college faculty award winners for intellectual contributions also include:

  • College of Engineering: Dr. Audrey Meador, instructor of mathematics;
  • Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences: Dr. Ming Xie, assistant professor of emergency management administration;
  • Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities: Dr. Brian Ingrassia, associate professor of history; and
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Dr. Collette Loftin, associate professor of nursing.

In addition to Partheepan, college faculty award winners for professional service award also include:

  • Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Science: Dr. Christopher Baird, assistant professor of physics;
  • Engler College of Business: Dr. Nick Gerlich, J. Pat Hickman Professor of Marketing;
  • Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences: Dr. Mikyung Shin, assistant professor of education;
  • Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities: Donald Lefevre, associate professor of music; and
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Landon Brown, instructor of communication disorders.

Photo: Staff excellence award winners include Verna Hodge, left, and Kimberly Hanna.

Staff excellence award winners were Kimberly Hanna, creative and communications manager for the WT Graduate School; Verna Hodge, academic advising and documents coordinator for the Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities; and Michelle Kirksey, nursing admissions counselor for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Nurturing excellent faculty and staff is an important principle of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised about $110 million.



Top photo: Faculty award winners include, from left, Dr. Joshua Partheepan, Dr. Leslie Ramos Salazar, Dr. Maxine De Butte and Dr. John Richeson.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.