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Chancellor's Council Honors Faculty, Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Chancellor Robert L. Duncan presented teaching and research awards to esteemed faculty throughout the Texas Tech University System.

February 14, 2017 | Contact Scott Lacefield

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert L. Duncan recently recognized 15 faculty members from the system’s four component institutions as recipients of the 2017 Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards. These awards recognize excellence in academics and research and are the most prestigious honors granted to faculty members throughout the TTU System.

“It is an honor to present these talented and dedicated faculty members with these awards,” Duncan said. “I am grateful for the commitment to excellence all of these individuals have made to not only our institutions, but to the lives of the students they impact on a daily basis.”

The awards are made possible through philanthropic gifts to the Chancellor’s Council, which has recognized top teaching and research faculty across the Texas Tech University System. To date, 151 faculty have received awards totaling $965,000.

The Chancellor’s Council, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, was originally created in 1967 as the President’s Council to recognize donors who helped Texas Tech University accomplish its highest goals. The program was renamed and expanded in 1996 with the establishment of the Texas Tech University System. Today, the Chancellor’s Council plays a vital role in creating opportunities for all four universities. Among the many areas, the council funds student scholarships, faculty awards and top scholar recruitment.

The award recipients receive a $5,000 stipend and an engraved medallion.

TTU Chancellor's CouncilLawrence Schovanec, Cynthia B. McKenney, Yoojin Chae, Michael P. Jordan, Harvinder Singh Gill, Lora Deahl, Michael A. Ballou, Karen Alexander, Chancellor Robert L. Duncan

Texas Tech University

Those recognized at Texas Tech University for teaching excellence were:

Karen L. Alexander, Ph.D.
Alexander is an associate professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences Education program in the College of Human Sciences.

She has been an educator for 25 years. During her tenure at Texas Tech, she has managed more than $4 million in external funding to oversee the development and implementation of the AchieveTexas College and Career Initiative, a statewide initiative providing resources to prepare students to be college and career ready.

Alexander earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education as well as a doctorate in Human Development and Family Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Lora Deahl, D.M.A.
Deahl is a professor of piano and keyboard literature in the School of Music in the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.

Deahl has spent her entire four-decade career at Texas Tech. She is known for her research concerning the biomechanics of piano technique, the performance practice and literature of the piano, and women’s roles in music. Her most recent project, a groundbreaking study of adaptive strategies for small-handed pianists, will be published by Oxford University Press in fall 2017. She has presented recitals, lectures and masterclasses throughout the U.S., Asia and Latin America.

A recipient of the Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award from the Texas Music Teachers Association and the Phi Kappa Phi Contributions to Excellence in Higher Education Award, Deahl has been described as a teacher of exceptional devotion with an uncanny ability to bring about change in students at all ability levels, merging intellectual rigor with musical passion.

Deahl earned her degrees at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Indiana University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Cynthia B. McKenney, Ed.D.
McKenney is a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. She is also an integrated scholar.

As a pioneer in distance education, McKenney was instrumental in developing the online Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs in horticulture, distinguishing Texas Tech as one of the first universities in the country to offer these online degree programs.

McKenney also has been active in advancing teaching at many levels. Nationally, she has been recognized as a fellow in the American Society for Horticultural Sciences and is the vice president for the Education Division of the Society. Regionally, McKenney has provided educational service to other institutions including being a program reviewer for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Department of Renewable Resources and serving on the Dean’s Advisory Committees for both Collin College and Richland College, both located in the Dallas area. She has been awarded the Texas Tech University President's Excellence in Teaching Award twice (1994 and 2016).

McKenney received her bachelor’s in ornamental horticulture, Texas Provisional Secondary Teaching Certificate in broad field science, master’s degree in horticulture and doctorate in higher education administration all from Texas Tech.

Those recognized at Texas Tech University for research excellence were:

Michael A. Ballou, Ph.D.
Ballou serves as an associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and is an associate professor in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences.

His research specialization is in the field of nutritional immunology, assessing how nutrition can have both immediate and long-term impacts on an animal’s ability to respond to, as well as recover from, infectious diseases.

In addition to his work with livestock, Ballou was one of the first to determine that a lesser known omega-3 fatty acid preferentially incorporates into mammalian immune cells and is important in the regulation of inflammation. He is also active in professional service, serving as the chair of the American Dairy Science Association’s animal health committee, on a board of directors for Breedlove Foods, and as a scientific peer reviewer for both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association. He also has secured more than $1 million in extramural funding.

Ballou received both his bachelor’s degree in animal science and his doctorate in nutritional biology with a focus in immunology from the University of California, Davis.

Yoojin Chae, Ph.D.
Chae is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences.

Chae’s research emphasis primarily concerns children’s memory, particularly focused on several controversial issues concerning children’s eyewitness capabilities. Her research also focuses on memory for stressful experiences, memory development in the context of psychopathology and child maltreatment and attachment security and memory. She has received grants from external funding agencies including the National Science Foundation. Chae’s papers have been published extensively in major psychology journals.

She earned her doctorate in the developmental psychology program at Cornell University.

Harvinder Singh Gill, Ph.D.
Gill is an associate professor of chemical engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering and is the Whitacre Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering.

Gill’s research focuses on micro- and nanosystems for use in drug and vaccine delivery, bio-nanomaterials, mucosal vaccination and immunomodulation. He is pioneering the use of pollens as a novel microcapsule to develop edible vaccines and microneedles for allergy immunotherapy to replace painful allergy shots. Another of Gill’s research projects involves development of a “universal” influenza vaccine that can offer protection against a broad spectrum of influenza strains.

He has received the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, the Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and to date has secured approximately $8 million in competitive federal research funding. Gill has received numerous honors and awards including the Dr. Charles Burford Faculty Teaching Award (2011), the Whitacre Engineering Research Award (2013), and the Ed and Linda Whitacre Faculty Fellow Award (2014), all while at Texas Tech.

Gill completed his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with honors from Panjab University, India. He obtained his doctorate in bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Michael P. Jordan, Ph.D.
Jordan is an assistant professor of ethnology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Jordan’s research focuses on the construction and maintenance of indigenous forms of identity, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and the politics of representation. He explores these topics within the context of Native North America, working closely with federally recognized tribes, including the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma.

As a noted scholar of Plains Indian material culture, a number of museums have invited Jordan to consult on their collections, including the Brooklyn Art Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where he was appointed as a research associate in 2014. Since 2011, he has secured more than $300,000 in external funding from different sources. Outreach and engagement form critical components of his research, and Jordan is committed to developing meaningful collaborations between museums and native communities.

Jordan received his doctorate in sociocultural anthropology from The University of Oklahoma.

TTUHSC Chancellor's CouncilTedd L. Mitchell, Richard D. Leff, Billy U. Philips, Katie Bennett, Chancellor Robert L. Duncan (not pictured: Elizabeth Goebel Jones)

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Those recognized for teaching excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center were:

Katie Bennett, Ph.D.
Bennett is an associate professor in the School of Health Professions, as part of the Molecular Pathology and Clinical Laboratory Science programs. In addition to her teaching duties, Bennett serves as laboratory director for two local clinical diagnostic laboratories.

Bennett pushes her students to reach their potential and holds them to a high academic standard, as evidenced by the 100 percent student pass rate for the past three years on the Molecular Biology board certification exam.

She has been awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year for molecular pathology by the Student Government Association five times since 2010. The Association for Molecular Pathology recently recognized her excellence by requesting that she serve on the Education and Training Task Force for Clinical Laboratory Science Curriculum.

She is board certified in molecular biology by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and also holds board certification from the National Registry of Certified Chemists in Clinical Chemistry.

Bennett joined the school in 2009 after completing her doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Elizabeth Goebel Jones, Ph.D.
Jones is the founding chair of the Department of Medical Education. She is a tenured professor with an additional appointment in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Jones is co-director of the Family Medicine Accelerated Track, a nationally recognized program to increase the primary care physician workforce, especially throughout Texas. She also serves as the director of the Patients, Physicians, and Populations course, a longitudinal experience for first- and second-year medical students. 

Jones has been principal or co-investigator on external funding of more than $7.6 million. In the community, Jones is a past-president of the Junior League of Lubbock and the boards of directors for Susan G. Komen Lubbock Area and the Lubbock Area Foundation. She has been a member of the boards for the American Cancer Society, the University Medical Center Foundation, the Helen Hodges Educational Charitable Trust, All Saints Episcopal School and the Lubbock Symphony Guild. Jones is also regional director for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health in Lubbock.

Jones received a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, master’s degree in English, and doctorate in higher education and English, all from Texas Tech.

Those recognized for research excellence at TTUHSC were:

Richard D. Leff, Pharm.D.
Leff is a university distinguished professor and James A. ‘Buddy’ Davidson Endowed Professor in Pediatric Pharmacology, as well as senior associate dean for Clinical and Translational Sciences at the School of Pharmacy.

Having held previous faculty positions at The University of Texas at Austin, University of Iowa and University of Kansas, Leff joined the School of Pharmacy in 2002 and led early development of the teaching and research programs at the Dallas regional campus. His research has been diverse including development of novel drug delivery and treatment for infants and children with sustained grant and contract funding from federal, state and private agencies.

He received a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University, a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Creighton University, and a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Minnesota.

Billy U. Philips, Jr., Ph.D.
Philips is the executive vice president and director of the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health. He is a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Public Health.

Philips’ research focuses on disease prevention. He and his research team have used spatial epidemiological methods to explain how social deprivation can impact early detection of diseases. For the past decade, his scholarly efforts have focused on diffusion of medical innovations and how disruptive change can be managed to result in better disease prevention strategies in public health. Philips has recently begun to apply these discoveries to the adoption of technology, such as telemedicine to address behavioral and mental health disparities, particularly in rural populations.

Philips holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in public health from The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has done postdoctoral study in epidemiology.

ASU Chancellor's CouncilBrian May, William A. Taylor, Christine L. Purkiss, Chancellor Robert Duncan

Angelo State University

Recognized for teaching excellence at Angelo State University was:

Christine L. Purkiss, Ed.D.
Purkiss is an associate professor of teacher education in the College of Education.

Purkiss uses a variety of instructional strategies in her classes and models effective instruction for future teachers so they leave her classes with a toolbox they can use in their own teaching careers. She stays current on issues and trends in her field with memberships in professional organizations and also dedicates many hours to Angelo State University student organizations. She is the faculty co-advisor for the Kappa Delta Pi international honor society for education and was a member of the first cohort of the Community-Engaged Faculty Fellows who develop courses to enhance student involvement in the community.

She has also received Teacher Quality Partnership Grants from the U.S. Department of Education for her program titled “Earth Science: It’s Elementary,” which focuses on providing local and area fourth and fifth-grade teachers with effective methods to teach earth science.

Purkiss received a bachelor’s degree from McMurry University and a master’s and doctorate of education from Texas Tech.

Recognized for research excellence at Angelo State University was:

William A. Taylor, Ph.D.
Taylor is an assistant professor of Security Studies in the College of Arts and Humanities. He is also the current interim chair of the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice.

Taylor won three national grants to research the book “Every Citizen a Soldier: The Campaign for Universal Military Training after World War II.” In 2014, Texas A&M University Press published the book, which won a Crader Family Book Prize honorable mention.

Taylor won six national grants to research the book “Military Service and American Democracy: From World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.” In 2016, the University Press of Kansas published the book. He has contributed to 11 other books and has published more than 60 reference articles and book reviews.

Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the United States Naval Academy, a master’s degree in history from University of Maryland, and a master’s degree in national security studies from Georgetown University. He received another master’s degree and his doctorate in history from George Washington University.

TTUHSC El Paso Chancellor's CouncilRichard Lange, Justin M. Wright, Dale W. Quest, Chancellor Robert Duncan

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

Recognized for teaching excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso were:

Dale W. Quest, Ph.D.
Quest is an associate professor of pharmacology in the Department of Medical Education.

Quest relocated from Canada in September 2008 as one of the founding members of Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. He credits the teaching successes and awards that he has earned throughout his career at TTUHSC El Paso to constructive critique from students, faculty development programs and mentors, as well as the institution’s culture of teaching effectiveness.

Quest received his bachelor’s degree in nursing and earned a doctorate of pharmacology from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.

Justin M. Wright, M.D.
Wright is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. He is currently program director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship.

His teaching interests include musculoskeletal exam skills, concussion management and musculoskeletal ultrasound. Wright is known for the innovative curricula he uses to teach these disciplines to students, residents and fellows.

Wright graduated from TTUHSC in 2006.

About the Texas Tech University System 
Established in 1996, the Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the state of Texas and nation, consisting of four universities—Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University System is a $2 billion enterprise focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach with approximately 20,000 employees, more than 50,000 students, nearly 325,000 alumni and an endowment over $1.1 billion.

In its short history, the Texas Tech University System has grown tremendously and is nationally acclaimed, operating on more than a dozen campuses statewide and internationally. Under the dynamic leadership of Chancellor Robert L. Duncan, the Texas Tech University System has set forth a bold vision of excellence, collaboration and innovation and continues to prove that from here, it’s possible.