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WVU faculty honored with 2020 teaching and service awards

portraits of 2 men and a woman

Three WVU faculty members have been recognized for their exceptional teaching and service to the University, students and community. 

The Caperton Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing recognizes a tenured faculty member for excellence in the teaching of writing. Established in 2007, the award was made possible by the generosity of former West Virginia Governor and College Board president Gaston Caperton. Caperton’s intent was to “increase awareness of the need for improved writing skills,” identifying writing as a critical issue necessary to maintaining America’s competitive edge in the global market. 

This year’s recipient is Joshua Arthurs, associate professor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ History Department. With a strong background in the teaching of writing, Arthurs has brought that experience to his work with history students at WVU. As he views writing as the foundation for thinking, Arthurs encourages students to take critical positions on topics and prove them through systematic elaboration. All of his courses are SpeakWriteTM-certified and include extensive writing workshops and give assignments in which writing is an iterative process of responding to instructor feedback and revising. 

As the recipient of the 2020 Caperton Award, Arthurs will receive $5,000 in professional development from the Caperton fund. 

In addition to teaching awards, the Office of the Provost also recognizes service during the spring awards season. 

The Ethel and Gerry Heebink Award for Distinguished State Service recognizes a faculty or staff member who has provided distinguished service to West Virginia over a period of time and is awarded annually. It was established by David Heebink in 1982 in memory of his parents, Ethel and Gerry Heebink, two former University employees. 

The recipient of the 2020 Heebink Award for extended service is Christina Duncan, professor of psychology and director of the Quin Curtis Center in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. Duncan is being honored for her long-term work as a volunteer on the healthcare team at the Mountain State Cystic Fibrosis Center in the WVU Health Sciences Center and her clinical work at the West Penn Hospital Burn Center. Especially noteworthy is her ability to enhance the care of patients from rural Appalachia, her work in supporting the annual summer camp for pediatric burn survivors, her work with a national peer support program for burn survivors and her outreach in burn prevention. Duncan’s service work also benefits WVU students who take part in unique clinical training and volunteer experiences. 

As the 2020 Heebink award recipient, Duncan will receive a $3,000 professional development honorarium. 

In addition to these awards focused on teaching and service, WVU also recognizes faculty who excel across all three areas of teaching, service and research. 

The James and Karen Caveney Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award is awarded annually to faculty who are highly productive in their research, exceptional in their teaching and instruction innovation, and outstanding in their commitment to the people of West Virginia. Dr. James Caveney and his wife, Karen, established the award in 2014. They, along with their three children, and immediate family hold 19 degrees from WVU. 

The 2019-2020 award recognizes Dr. Michael P. Strager, professor of Resource Economics and Management within the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Strager is honored for his collaborative interdisciplinary research utilizing spatial and decision analyses techniques for better natural resource management and sustainability that has generated over $8 million in external funding and 57 peer-reviewed publications. Strager also established a graduate certificate program in GIS and Spatial Analysis for natural resource management and advises 25 students each semester. Within a five-year period, he also served as a graduate committee member for 64 completed master’s and 45 completed doctoral degrees. Strager uses his spatial data analysis and performance optimization skills to serve local water resources, land conservation and recreation and landscape ecology organizations within West Virginia. 

As the 2019-2020 Caveney award recipient, Strager will receive a $6,000 professional development honorarium. 

“With each announcement, accolade and recognition, I continue to be impressed by the quantity and quality of contributions made by our faculty each year,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed. “I’m particularly impressed by the contributions made by these exceptional faculty. They are leaving their mark both on our students and our state, and our University is better for it.” 

All of the 2020 award recipients will be recognized by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed and President Gordon Gee during a faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House, which has been postponed until Fall 2020 due to University closure and COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about these and other awards on the website.