Faculty receive awards, promotions, tenure
Three Transylvania professors were recognized with Bingham Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and more were given promotions and tenure.
Exercise science professor Kirk Abraham, biology professor Belinda Sly, and writing, rhetoric, and communication professor Scott Whiddon received the awards, which come with annual salary supplements for five years. A committee of outside educators selects Bingham Award winners based on classroom visits, essays submitted by candidates, and student evaluations.
Whiddon came to Transylvania in 2006 after earning his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He said his goal in teaching students to write is to emphasize the process of writing instead of the final result.
“Writing is a way not only to help see the product of your thinking, but it’s also a process of your thinking; it’s a way of sorting out problems and challenges and structures and figuring out how to respond to them,” Whiddon said. “If you can get students to stop thinking about the end product and start to think about the stages along the way, then they begin to see themselves as writers.”
Sly, who was also granted tenure and promoted to associate professor, has been at Transy since 2004. She came to Lexington after getting her Ph.D. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from Indiana University. She described her teaching style as more relaxed with an emphasis on student involvement in lectures. She strives to promote the liberal arts education by practically applying what the students are learning.
“I like to create a relaxed environment that hopefully makes students feel comfortable to speak up, but also keeps them engaged,” she said. “Some level of applying concepts to current events is really important and helps them learn the material better. They’re not surprised at all if I say, ‘Let’s talk about bioethics for a bit.’ They know that’s something that we do here.”
Abraham, who was also granted tenure and promoted to associate professor, joined the Transylvania faculty in 2004 and holds a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Missouri. He employs a hands-on method of teaching that is designed to keep the students involved. He said he’s learned today’s students expect more interaction with their professors to stay engaged.
“I try to put myself back in the students’ shoes, which is getting harder to do all the time as I’m getting older, and help them walk through the stages of learning the material,” he said. “They tend to expect a lot of feedback, and that’s something I’ve learned to give more of as the years go by.”
Gregg Bocketti was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of history. He came to Transy in 2004 and received his Ph.D. in history from Tulane University.
Melissa Fortner ’96 was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of psychology. She joined the faculty in 2004 and holds a Ph.D. in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State
Mark Jackson was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of psychology. He has been at Transy since 2003 and received a Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from the University of Kentucky.
Eva Csuhai was promoted to full professor of chemistry. She began teaching at Transy in 1998 and earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Texas A&M University.
Kurt Gohde was promoted to full professor of art. He came to Transylvania in 1998 and received his M.F.A. in sculpture from Syracuse University.
Barbara LoMonaco was promoted to full professor of anthropology. She began teaching at Transy in 1996 and holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Southern Methodist University.