InsideODU: News for Faculty and Staff
Monday, January 14, 2013


ODU Honors Nominees for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards

Old Dominion honored its nominees for the 2013 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards at a luncheon last month in Webb Center (see photo below). Administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and funded by a grant from the Dominion Foundation, the awards program will announce the statewide winners on Jan. 23.

The Outstanding Faculty Awards are the commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. These awards recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service.

At the December luncheon, President John Broderick recognized the nominees for their outstanding work (see photo below). They also received a plaque at the luncheon.

ODU's nine nominees are: Gail Dodge, Jennifer Fish, John Ford, John McManus, John Nunnery, Mike Pearson, Zia Razzaq, Carolyn Rutledge and Tom Socha. McManus was nominated for the special category of "Rising Star."

Excerpts from the "Personal Statement" section of the faculty members' nomination packets are reprinted below.

Gail Dodge

Professor of Physics

"Given the importance of increasing the number of U.S. students pursuing technical careers, we must not accept the status quo in which women and minorities are underrepresented in physics and other STEM fields. For me that means doing everything I can to mentor and encourage women in physics at ODU, including hosting women in physics dinners and taking an interest in the lives and dreams of all the students. My work as a scientist and teacher is also the work of a citizen who is concerned about helping the United States stay competitive in scientific education and innovation."

Jennifer Fish

Associate Professor of Women's Studies

"My research, teaching and service explores the possibilities of social change across gender, racial and class lines. But I do not just work on the issues of racism and inequality; action-based research emerges in dialogue with community participants who have a vested interest in the outcomes of social inquiry. My students and I work with communities in Africa, Europe and the United States to identify shared research questions, find solutions to analytical puzzles and identify gaps in existing knowledge that the communities in question are genuinely and explicitly interested in addressing. We apply our work to serve others, form community-based partnerships and to address social problems - whether they be in Africa or right here in Norfolk."

John Ford

Professor and Eminent Scholar of Marketing

"There is a great deal of pressure in the business world to standardize marketing strategies to maximize economies of scale, but I have seen firsthand how global standardization (in theory) ignores cultural nuance and (in practice) can create the potential for conflict, hurt feelings and customer alienation. My marketing students, from undergraduate to doctoral students, learn how to develop localized rather than standardized decision models to help businesses become more successful in selling their goods to multicultural audiences of consumers. This unique approach to marketing theory has produced a decided comparative advantage for our students as they not only understand marketing theory and practice, but they learn how marketing is itself a form of cultural work."

John McManus

Assistant Professor of English

"In my stories and novels I've tried to explain - to myself and to others - the Smoky Mountain foothills where I grew up. Reviewers often called the stories in my first collection "dark" and "unsettling," but there are no villains (or, for that matter, heroes) in the stories, only people trying to get by, doing what makes sense to them in their time and place. I tell my students that to understand one's time and place is to understand oneself better. At its essence I feel that all my work - not just writing but also teaching, research, service - hinges on the exploration and understanding of human desire."

John Nunnery

Executive Director, The Center for Educational Partnerships

"STEM education, service to the military, partnerships and improving educational opportunities for poor and working class students are fundamental ingredients in my personal mission. Those are what I focused on in developing The Center for Educational Partnerships (TCEP) at Old Dominion University. This focus has been instrumental in aligning support from the university at all levels, in building effective connections to the broader professional and lay communities, and in creating partnerships with federal departments of Education and Defense."

Mike Pearson

Professor of English

"As a boy growing up in the Bronx in the 1960s, I often sat gazing out my apartment window. What I saw, framed by the squat brick buildings and the rust-colored sky, was a parade of strange characters - a handsome man in a white suit, a teenage boy wearing a straw hat and chomping down on a corncob pipe, a tattooed harpooner from the South Seas, and hundreds of others slicing through the stale air like rays of light into my own private tunnel. It was a small part of the long line of stories that fired my imagination, deepened my compassion, enhanced my understanding of my own fears and dreams, and steered me toward the future. Those works of literature were my education n the original sense of the term, a leading out into the world."

Zia Razzaq

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

"I believe engineering is a humanistic discipline. I freely admit that this statement must sound a bit peculiar coming from a structural engineer and applied mathematician whose students expect to be trained as engineers. What I say to my students is that they should not restrict their learning to what is embodied in their textbooks. They must, in each course, read at least one or more of the original works of the great teachers such as the original works of Sir Isaac Newton as well as the original works of some of the greatest American pioneers such as Charles Whitney's and Hardy Cross' original papers, which provided a sound basis for the engineered design of tall buildings and large bridges throughout the entire world!"

Carolyn Rutledge

Associate Professor of Nursing

"Our country spends the most money on health care yet has the worst outcome among the industrialized nations of the world. Of great concern is the provision of quality care to vulnerable and rural disadvantaged populations. Health care professionals such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives (the "caring" side of the medical establishment) can step in to fill this gap in service. To this end, I have developed a new paradigm for training health care providers in their own communities through distance learning and building collaborations with them through grant-writing and community partnerships."

Tom Socha

Professor of Communication

"In the course of human development and especially in the age of information, all messages - great and small - matter. But from that deluge of messages that matter, one truth clearly emerges: family messages matter most. Today, now that family communication is a firmly established field of study, most will take this statement for granted. But when I began my work in this area, I found it necessary to demonstrate the very real significance of everyday communication in explaining family functioning, especially as it related to the more established psychological and sociological theories. In many ways, we were blazing new trails. But they were important trails - trails that we were convinced would lead to a deeper understanding of the human experience."

Seven of ODU's nominees attended the luncheon (l-r): John Ford, Mike Pearson, Tom Socha, Carolyn Rutledge, Gail Dodge, John Nunnery and Zia Razzaq.

Return to InsideODU