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UCO Honors Faculty and Staff at 2020 Fall Convocation

Official Mark of UCO on a white background

Aug. 13, 2020

Media Contact: Sarah Ward, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Communications, 405-974-2106, 


UCO Honors Faculty and Staff at 2020 Fall Convocation

The University of Central Oklahoma recognized and awarded faculty and staff for their substantial contributions to the Central community at its annual Faculty and Staff Fall Convocation, held virtually, Aug. 11.

This event serves as an opportunity to celebrate the successes of the past year, and set the vision for the upcoming year.

UCO Co-Interim Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs Charlotte Simmons, Ph.D., and Gary Steward, Ph.D., and UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar encouraged Central’s faculty and staff to rededicate to Central’s mission, vision and values continuously.

Several awards were presented to faculty and staff at the Fall Faculty and Staff Convocation.

Recipients of the Faculty Merit Credit Awards, presented in the categories of research, creative and scholarly activity, teaching and service are:

  • Jicheng Fu, Ph.D., professor of computer science, in research, creative and scholarly activity;
  • Sanjeewa Gamagedara, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, in research, creative and scholarly activity;
  • Kristin Karber, Ph.D., professor of mathematics and statistics, in teaching; and,
  • Angela Mooney, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction, in service.

The Making a Difference Award is given to a randomly selected faculty or staff member who has donated to the university within the past calendar year. The recipient gets to choose a reserved parking spot anywhere on campus. The 2020 recipient is Claire Painter, assistant director of Student Leadership.

The Vanderford Faculty Awards are given to faculty to honor outstanding work. Recipients receive $1,000 and a plaque funded by the estate of Central alumni Austin and Cleo Patra Vanderford. The 2020 recipients are:

  • Tracy Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and statistics, for research;
  • Jennifer Barger-Johnson, J.D., professor of finance, for engagement;
  • Lori Beasley, Ed.D., professor of human environmental sciences, for engagement; and,
  • Nancy Gwin, assistant professor of nursing, for initiative.

Also presented were the Vanderford Teaching Awards to faculty members during their academic college meetings. The 2020 recipients are:

  • Jill Davis, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction;
  • Travis Roach, Ph.D., associate professor of economics;
  • Tierney Harvey, Ph.D., lecturer of engineering and physics;
  • Jerry Green, Ph.D., assistant professor of humanities and philosophy; and,
  • Sephra Scheuber, lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music.

The Neely Excellence in Teaching Award, funded by Central graduate J. Gail Neely, M.D., in honor of his parents, El Roy C. Neely and Lucile Hawker Neely, recognizes faculty with a hunger for knowledge and support of education. Recipients receive $1,000. The 2020 Neely Award recipients are Sean Laverty, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and statistics, and Susan Miller, Ed.D., professor of human environmental sciences.

The Herbert S. Dordick Award for an Outstanding Mentor is given to a faculty or staff member for mentoring students in their freshman year. Established in 1998, the award honors Herbert S. Dordick, Ph.D., beloved mentor of Robert Epstein, Ph.D., UCO professor emeritus of management. The award includes $1,000. The 2020 Dordick Award recipient is Laura Dumin, Ph.D., assistant professor of English.

The UBS Modeling the Way Award is given to three members of the UCO community who consistently lead by example and live the mission, values and goals of the university. Each recipient is awarded a $1,000 check and a Waterford crystal memento, funded by UBS.

The 2020 Modeling the Way recipients are Jeanetta Sims, Ph.D., dean of the Jackson College of Graduate Studies; Erika Cerda, director of Employee Relations; and, Diana Pardo, Ph.D., professor and chairperson of the department of modern languages.

The Citizen’s Bank Leadership and Civic Engagement Award is given to a faculty or staff member that leads by example and is involved in the community. Each recipient or group receives $2,000 and an engraved clock. This year's recipient is the COVID-19 Response Task Force. The task force included faculty and staff members across campus who provided recommendations for Central’s fall reopening plan.

The Exceptional Performance Award is given to staff members that reflect the innovative, passionate and student-centered focus that Central embraces. Each recipient receives $1,250 and a plaque. This year’s recipients are Norman Nieves, director of Emergency Management; Ricky Maxwell, tech support specialist; and, Becca Buckner, media specialist.

The Exceptional Group/Unit Service Award is an award given to a group or unit that passionately reflects Central’s innovative and student-centered focus. This year’s award winner is the Office of Information Technology.

The Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award, presented by the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma, is given to organizations that exemplify the university’s commitment to providing transformative learning experiences. This year’s first-place winner is the Native American Success Initiative, designed to help promote the retention, academic success and graduation of Native American students. Tied for second place is the Student Academy of Forensic Sciences, an organization open to all students, faculty and staff interested in learning more about the field of forensics, and Interprofessional Education (IPE)/Interprofessional Practice (IPP) – Grand Rounds: Experience in Interprofessional Practice, a team of UCO professionals who bring a collaborative approach to medical educational experiences, referred to as Grand Rounds, to students enrolled in allied health and education professions.

The MidFirst Bank Presidential Award in Applied Leadership is given to an individual or individuals with outstanding contributions to the goals, objectives and high standards of professionalism at UCO. Recipients are awarded $2,500 and recognition on a plaque. The 2020 recipient is Drew Duke, assistant vice president for administrative services.

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