Outstanding WT Faculty, Staff Recognized at End-of-Year Ceremony

Chip Chandler May 04, 2023
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Outstanding WT Faculty, Staff Recognized at End-of-Year Ceremony

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — Exceptional members of West Texas A&M University’s faculty and staff were honored during an end-of-year meeting May 4.

“Winning one of the university awards is a special moment in these faculty and staff members’ professional careers, further enhanced by the knowledge that they have earned the highest level of respect from your peers, dean, administration, and other stakeholders across campus in recognition of your distinctive production,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Each of these winners is a vital contributor to success at the University.” 

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

The winners represent each of WT’s six Colleges. 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. 

The Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences and its 15 faculty members in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences were given the Assessment and Assurance of Learning Award for its work in the 2021-22 academic year.

“Our faculty members care greatly about our students, their learning and their future success,” said department head Dr. David Sissom. “Under the leadership of Dr. Dan Stroud, university director of assessment, we have approached our program learning assessments with a collaborative spirit. We hope to continue improving our assessment process to ensure that our teaching is effective and meaningful to the students we serve.”

Dr. Collette Loftin, professor of nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, won the Instructional Responsibilities Excellence Award.

“Collette Loftin inspires students, and she is devoted to the profession of nursing,” said Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, dean. “The future of the profession rests with the students that we are instructing. She gives students the detailed, hands-on experience and constructive feedback that they will need to best serve patients. Collette’s students are captivated; they can’t soak it in fast enough.”

Loftin earned her master’s in nursing education from WT in 2006 and joined the nursing faculty in January 2007. She teaches classes in foundations and medication administration and serves as associate department head for graduate nursing programs.

Dr. Dave Rausch, WT’s Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences, won the Professional Service Excellence Award.

“Dr. Rausch is dedicated to student success,” said Dr. Eddie Henderson, dean. “Throughout his tenure, he has served in many roles across the University, both in and out of the classroom. He is in all respects a servant-leader, and his service has advanced the mission of the College and the University in meaningful ways. We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”

Rausch joined WT in 1998. He earned his bachelor’s in political science from the University of Alaska–Fairbanks and his master’s and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He teaches courses in American political institutions, religion and politics, and American national, state and local government.

Dr. Anne-Christine Barthel, WT’s Hodges Professor of Business in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, won the Intellectual Contributions Excellence Award.

“This award is a testament to Dr. Barthel’s innovative ideas and hard work,” said Dr. Amjad Abdullat, dean. “Dr. Barthel is an accomplished scholar and researcher with a significant publication record of articles and research papers published in top-tier academic journals.”

Barthel joined WT in 2016. She earned her undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Mannheim, Germany, and her master’s and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Kansas. She teaches courses in business analytics, quantitative methods and microeconomics.

Dr. Monica Hart, associate professor of English in the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, won the Distinguished Innovation in Teaching Award.

“Dr. Hart has been teaching at this institution for over 15 years, and she is, without fail, one of the top three teachers in our department, based on student evaluations,” said Dr. Jessica Mallard, dean. “More often than not, she is the top teacher, as she was this year. Our students sometimes demand to know which courses Dr. Hart is teaching before making their schedules.”

Hart joined WT in 2006. She earned a bachelor’s in theatrical performance from Auburn University and a master’s and Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia. The former director of the Office of Writing Programs, she teaches courses in Romantic and Victorian British literature, poetry and introductory literature.

Dr. Nathan Howell, WT’s Bell Helicopter Professor of Engineering in the College of Engineering, won the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award.

“Dr. Howell exemplifies WT’s student-centered spirit,” said Dr. Emily Hunt, dean. “He is an intentional and compassion-driven researcher, teacher, and human. Dr. Howell teaches his students to use the gift of engineering to serve those around us who are in need. His research on the environment and water quality will have a lasting impact in this region and throughout the world.”

Howell joined WT in 2013. He earned his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of Texas and practiced for two years in environmental consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Houston. He teaches environmental and civil engineering courses.

Dr. Naruki Hiranuma, associate professor of environmental science in the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, won the Distinction in Sponsored Research Award.

Hiranuma earned his master’s at WT and joined the faculty in 2016. He also earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Texas A&M University. He teaches environmental science courses and recently was appointed to the advisory committee of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.

“Dr. Hiranuma is an excellent scientist with outstanding success in obtaining external funding,” said Dr. Kevin Pond, dean. “He and his colleagues have $1.4 million in active grant funding, We are very proud to recognize his diligent work in research.”.

The individual awardees were given $3,000 honorariums, and the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences was given a $6,000 prize.

In addition to Loftin and Hart, college faculty award winners for instructional responsibilities also include:

  • Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences: Lauren Selph, instructor of plant, soil and environmental sciences;
  • Engler College of Business: Cheng “Carl” Zhang, assistant professor of computer information systems;
  • Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences: Dr. Irma Harper, associate professor of educational leadership; and
  • College of Engineering: Dr. Behnam Askarian, assistant professor of electrical engineering.

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

  • Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences: Dr. Nick Flynn, professor of biochemistry;
  • Engler College of Business: Dr. Jillian Yarbrough, the Virginia Engler Professor of Business Management;
  • College of Engineering: Dr. Erick Butler, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering;
  • Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities: Dr. Matthew Reardon, associate professor of history;
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Zeth Collom, instructor of communication disorders.

In addition to Barthel, Hiranuma and Howell, college faculty award winners for intellectual contributions also include:

  • Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences: Dr. Darrell Lovell, assistant professor of political science;
  • Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities: Jon Revett, the Doris Alexander Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts; and
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Dr. Michelle Bartlett, associate professor of sports and exercise science.

Staff Excellence Awards were given to Heather Wilson, WT Graduate School and Research coordinator, and Gina Woodward, regional director of America’s SBDC at WTAMU.

Wilson was cited for her “exceptional professionalism,” said Dr. Angela Spaulding, vice president for research and compliance and dean of the Graduate School.

“Heather is a unique combination of efficiency and effectiveness, while deploying encouragement, patience and support to those she serves,” Spaulding said. “She is incredibly valuable to Graduate School and Research, as well as University-wide. We are thankful to her and for her.”

Woodward was cited for her “exceptional dedication and unwavering commitment to supporting our institution’s mission and serving the local business community,” Abdullat said.

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 in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.




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.