Faculty Awards & Endowments

The members of the UNC Asheville faculty value teaching over all other activities, but are also accomplished scholars and significant contributors to the local and regional community.  All teaching award activity (i.e. calls for nominations, review of applications) is conducted by a Teaching Awards Committee, composed of previous teaching award winners. The Teaching Awards Committee solicits nominations from students, faculty, staff and alumni each fall and spring. Applications are reviewed and awards are bestowed each spring.  


Faculty Awards and Endowments since 1982

University Service Award

2018 Recipients

  • Marietta Cameron
  • Amy Lanou

2017 Recipients

  • Micheal Stratton
  • Lise Kloeppel

When the University Service Council was established, its first order of business was to establish an award that would recognize one of their peers for outstanding service. The award's purpose was to foster and encourage service to the community, UNC Asheville, and to our professions at large.

From the USC charge:

  • Service to the UNC Asheville community contributes directly to the welfare and development of students, faculty, and staff at UNC Asheville by enhancing learning for UNC Asheville students, promoting professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, or otherwise working for the betterment of the UNC Asheville community.
  • Service to the profession or academic discipline contributes directly to the advancement of learning, teaching, scholarship, or practice in that faculty member's profession or discipline.
  • Service to the wider community contributes directly to serving people in need or serving the natural environment in the wider world beyond the UNC Asheville campus: Asheville, Buncombe County, the state, the nation, and the world.

In May 2002, the First Annual University Service Council Award was presented during the last faculty meeting of the 2001-2002 academic year.


Scholarship and Creative Achievement Award

2018 Recipients

  • Evan Gurney
  • Susan Clark Muntean

2017 Recipients

  • Michael Ruiz
  • Amanda Wray

UNC Asheville Distinguished Teacher of the Year

2017 Recipient

  • Patrick Foo

2016 Recipient

Lorena Russell

This is UNC Asheville's original teaching award, presented during Spring Commencement to a member of the Faculty who is judged a "Distinguished Teacher." A monetary award accompanies this recognition and all Distinguished Teachers are listed in the UNC Asheville catalog. This award reflects the high priority and importance placed on teaching at UNC Asheville. Any full-time faculty member (Lecturer, Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor) shall be eligible, except for those faculty who have previously won the award.

The concept of a Distinguished Teacher Award carries with it certain assumptions, among which are:

  1. Teaching is an art; no exact measurement or measuring devices can ever assure an objective determination of successful teaching since no definition of good teaching is ever wholly accurate or even desirable; effectiveness in the classroom carries with it the indefinable factors of character, personality, enthusiasm, and creativity.
  2. The selection of an outstanding teacher by one's peers and one's students will always involve a degree of subjectivity; there can be no guarantee that in any given year, the award will recognize the single best instructor on campus; instead, the award will recognize one outstanding teacher; over a period of years, the probability is that a variety of good instructors from various fields will have an equal opportunity for recognition.
  3. The selection process requires a trust in our colleagues; we must assume that those on the Teaching Awards Committee will act professionally and in the best interest of the faculty and the university.
  4. In spite of inherent flaws in attempting to offer an award where total objectivity cannot be guaranteed, such an award is highly desirable; merit always deserves recognition, and the university benefits from the public acknowledgement that we value and emphasize quality in the classroom.


Ruth and Leon Feldman Professor

2018 Recipients

  • Leah Mathews
  • Ellen Pearson

2017 Recipients

  • Dwight Mullen
  • Robert Bowen

Each year the full-time, ranked faculty of UNC Asheville shall select two of its members for receipt of the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship Fund prize. This award will honor those faculty who have excelled in one or both of the following fields:

  1. Service to the community and to UNC Asheville; and,
  2. Demonstrated competence in the areas of teaching, research and published writings.

The selection of these two individuals is the responsibility of the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship Review Committee whose composition and procedures are described in Section 10.3.4 of the Faculty Handbook. The awards are bestowed at the final spring faculty meeting. Recipients of the award will be listed in the UNC Asheville catalog in a section describing the Ruth & Leon Feldman Professorship Fund.


Excellence in Teaching Awards

Board of Governors' Award for Excellence in Teaching

2018 Recipient

Nancy Ruppert (Education)

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors instituted an award system to underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward, and support good teaching within the University. The Board directed that each of the sixteen campuses establish awards for teaching excellence and to identify one faculty member per year that clearly exhibits those characteristics that sets them apart from the institution's faculty as a distinguished teacher.

The Board of Governors' Distinguished Teacher award is presented each spring in a ceremony at the Board of Governors office. Eligibility is restricted to tenured faculty who have taught at their constituent institutions for at least seven years.


Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences

2018 Recipient

James Perkins (Physics)

All full-time faculty who teach courses within a Natural Sciences division department with a rank of lecturer or higher, regardless of tenure status, are eligible for this award. The Natural Sciences Division includes the following departments: Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, New Media, and Physics.


Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences

2018 Recipient

Jason Wingert (Health and Wellness)

All full-time faculty who teach courses within a Social Sciences division department with a rank of lecturer or higher, regardless of tenure status, are eligible for this award. The Social Sciences Division includes the following departments: Economics, Education, Health and Wellness, Management, Accountancy, Mass Communications, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology.

Teaching Excellence in the Humanities

2018 Recipient

Marcus Harvey (Religious Studies)

All full-time faculty who teach courses within a Humanities division department with a rank of lecturer or higher, regardless of tenure status, are eligible for this award. The Humanities Division includes the following departments: Art, Classics, Drama, Foreign Languages, History, Literature and Language, Mass Communication, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies.

Teaching Excellence in University Programs

2018 Recipient

Renuka Gusain (Humanities)

All full-time faculty who teach courses within a university program with a rank of lecturer or higher, regardless of tenure status, are eligible for this award. University programs includes the following departments: Africana Studies, Arts and Ideas, Honors Program, Humanities Program, Interdisciplinary and International Studies, MLA Program, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Teaching Excellence - Untenured Faculty Member

2018 Recipient

Regine Criser (Languages and Literatures)

All full-time untenured faculty, regardless of appointment status, with a rank of lecturer or higher are eligible for this award.

Teaching Excellence - Part-Time or Adjunct Faculty

2018 Recipient

Barbara Duncan (Languages and Literatures)

All non-full-time faculty, regardless of appointment status, are eligible for this award.

Cary Caperton Owen Distinguished Professor in Economics

The Cary Caperton Owen Distinguished Professorship was established in October 2007 in honor of Cary Owen, who is known throughout the state as a remarkable champion for public education.  It is a three-year appointment that augments existing funding to allow a professor to pursue a special area of teaching, expand research efforts, and enhance professional development activities.

2013 Recipient

Joseph Sulock

Carol C. Belk Distinguished Professor in the Humanities

The Carol G. Belk Distinguished Professorship in Humanities was endowed by Irwin Belk in honor of his wife. Subtitled "Ethics In Contemporary Cultures," the Belk Professorship is given to an individual who can share his or her knowledge of the history, development and function of ethics and ethical systems in contemporary world cultures. The Belk Professor may come from any discipline and must have substantial accomplishment in undergraduate teaching, interdisciplinary teaching, scholarship, and campus and community leadership.

Duties include teaching two classes per semester, including courses in the Humanities program, scholarship, support of undergraduate research and faculty development activities. No term of appointment is specified.

Mark Gibney, Political Science

GlaxoSmithKline Distinguished Professor in Molecular and Chemical Biology

2013 Recipient

Thomas “Ted” Meigs

Roy Carroll Distinguished Professorship in Arts and Sciences Honors

2013 Recipient

Richard Chess

NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the title of NEH professor is bestowed as a reward for scholarship and teaching in the Humanities. The NEH professor teaches a reduced class load (typically 2 courses each semester) and assists with faculty development in the Humanities area. The appointment is made by the Provost and VCAA for a term of 3 years.

2013 Recipient

Sophie Mills

Phillip G. Carson Distinguished Professor of Natural Science

The Phillip G. Carson Distinguished Professor in Science may be awarded in any discipline in UNC Asheville's natural sciences division, preferably to an individual whose specialty area stresses interdisciplinary learning. Identified as both a teacher and a scholar, the Carson Professor must have a strong commitment to undergraduate education and to undergraduate research, and is expected to have a wide impact on the university, community, and the state.

Duties include regular teaching of both upper and lower level courses (number of courses not specified), scholarship, support of undergraduate research, faculty development activities, and some public responsibilities. The appointment also provides separate funding for additional expenses. No term of appointment is specified.

Bert Holmes

Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professorship in Natural Science Undergraduate Research

The Glaxo Wellcome Professorship in Undergraduate Research may be awarded in any discipline in the physical and natural sciences, preferably to an individual whose expertise can enhance interdisciplinary learning and scholarship. The Glaxo Wellcome Professor is expected to take the lead role in facilitating interdisciplinary science and undergraduate science research. Evidence of commitment to undergraduate education, undergraduate research, and the liberal arts is essential. Preference is given to those with a proven record of securing external funds.

Duties include teaching four courses a year (lower and upper division), scholarship, support of undergraduate research, faculty development activities, and some public responsibilities. The appointment is for five years, renewable for a second five years.


Sara and Joseph Breman Distinguished Professorship of Social Relations

2015 Recipient

Mary Lynn Manns

The Sara and Joseph Breman Foundation and the Helen and Coleman Zageir Foundation have provided a permanent endowment for the Sara and Joseph Breman Professorship of Social Relations. This professorship is awarded for a two-year term to a faculty member residing in one of the Social Science departments listed in the endowment document.

A call for applications is made during the fall semester of the Breman Professor's second year. Applications are reviewed the following spring by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in consultation with the chairs of the named Social Science departments.  The Breman Professor is named in the spring and his or her term begins the subsequent fall.


Thomas H. Howerton Distinguished Professor in Humanities

2013 Recipient

Brian Butler

Interdisciplinary Professor of the Mountain South

2013 Recipient

Leah G. Mathews