USC Upstate Honors Three Faculty Members For Excellence In The Classroom And For Research

May 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Three University of South Carolina Upstate faculty members were honored on May 5 at the commencement ceremony when 832 students received their degrees.

The USC Upstate Excellence in Teaching and Advising Award recognizes sustained excellence in undergraduate instruction and academic advisement. Students may nominate faculty members who teach six or more credit hours during the semester prior to when the award is given and are permanent track faculty members.

Johnson LisaDr. Lisa Johnson, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and Jeff Smith, instructor of management, are the 2015 recipients of the USC Upstate Excellence in Teaching and Advising Awards.

Johnson, who joined the faculty in 2006, has developed programs on campus and in the community to introduce the field of Women’s and Gender Studies as an exciting set of critical thinking skills about gender and power in personal relationships, politics, workplaces, educational settings and media culture.

“Dr. Johnson consistently delivers high-quality performance in the classroom and continuously refines her teaching skills, including participation in the Title III Active Learning Fellowship this spring. She has developed several innovative courses for the Women’s and Gender Studies minor, such as Girls Studies and Feminist Disability Studies. Students value her expertise and mentorship on undergraduate research projects and applications to graduate school,” said Dr. Dirk Schlingmann, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Foregrounding independent research and academic writing skills, Johnson has supervised 17 student conference presentations at local and regional gender studies conferences since 2006. She was also selected as the 2015 recipient of the system-wide USC Women’s and Gender Studies teaching award based on her commitment to integrated learning and civic engagement. She founded the first Triota Women’s and Gender Studies honors chapter in the USC system in 2013 and has inducted seven members in the past two years.

Smith JeffSmith has been teaching classes in entrepreneurship, finance and accounting at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics since 2008. In addition, he has 20 years of experience in the accounting, banking and the real estate development sectors, and has owned and operated several small businesses.

“Being an effective teacher, advisor, mentor and motivator requires one to think outside the box of conventional pedagogy; to go beyond the norms of typical classroom engagement; and to strive for excellence from students, the institution, the college and themselves,” said Dr. Frank Rudisill, dean of the Johnson College of Business and Economics. “Jeff Smith is this type of teacher. He is always outside the box, continually searching for better ways to educate and prepare students to be effective in the business world and constantly asking “are we teaching what our students need to know?”

Smith teaches the New Business Enterprise class where students learn the key steps in how to start a new business and develop plans for potential businesses. Since 2008, at least 15 businesses have been established from plans developed in his class. To date, these businesses have sales that exceed $60 million annually and employ more than 500 people.

The Annual Award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarly and/or Creative Pursuits recognizes an individual who has distinguished himself or herself by scholarly or creative activities during the preceding year. Faculty members are invited to submit their research and/or creative activities to be considered for the award.

Beer AndrewDr. Andrew Beer, associate professor of psychology, is the 2015 recipients of the Annual Award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarly and/or Creative Pursuits. By developing new research methods and applying them to fundamental questions about the ways we understand the personality traits of others, Beer has earned an international reputation as a leading scholar and researcher in the field of personality psychology. In the past three years, he has published five articles in top journals and been invited to give addresses to national and international audiences at Wake Forest University and at the European Conference on Personality Psychology in Italy. He has been honored with a position as consulting editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the most prestigious journal in the field, where he influences the direction of the field by reviewing manuscripts by contributors worldwide.

“Through this research, Dr. Beer is changing understandings of the impressions we make of others and ourselves—in marriages, interviews, social situations, and the wide range of personal encounters that shape our lives,” said Dr. Celena E. Kusch, co-chair of the Committee for Faculty Excellence.

At the most basic level, Beer asks how people know and judge others based on first impressions. His research explores how we determine the openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, loyalty, and other traits of strangers from just a brief encounter, a photo, a video, or even a description. His work has also concluded that we make those determinations more accurately when consulting together in pairs or small groups, but that our individual judgments are just as effective as those we make in groups of five or more.

“We are tremendously proud of the accomplishments our faculty members make in their important roles as scholars, researchers, artists, experts, and leaders in their fields,” said Chancellor Tom Moore. “Their contributions both in and out of the classrooms are what makes this a great University.”