Tarleton recognizes outstanding faculty, staff

Special to the Empire-Tribune

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University celebrated its best people recently at the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Banquet. Honorees are selected for their impact on students and the community through excellence, innovation, scholarship and service.

Recipients of this year's Faculty and Staff Awards include (seated, from left) Dr. Ceyhan Kilic, Judy Geye, Brenda Strong, Emily Treadaway, Amanda Petrosian, Dr. Kayla Kelly, Dr. Stephanie Robertson, Soncee Heard, student worker Taylor Welch; (standing, from left) Tarleton President James Hurley, Dr. Colin Pennington, Danielle Dunigan, Dr. J. Bradley Baker, Dr. Beth Riggs, Kajsa Pearson, Dr. Rusty Freed, Alisa Meriwether, Sabrina Baker and Dr. Karen Murray, university provost. Not pictured is Dr. Daniel Marble, recipient of the A&M System Regent's Professor award.

This year’s faculty recipients:

Dr. J. Bradley Baker, Outstanding Junior Faculty Award

Dr. Baker, assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, joined Tarleton a year and a half ago. He has had a significant impact on addressing the gap in students’ music theory and aural skills brought on by faculty transitions and the pandemic. His creative thinking enabled students affected by these challenges to achieve success in the classroom.

Dr. Stephanie Robertson, Engaged Faculty Award

Dr. Robertson, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Education and Human Development, has been instrumental in developing the Tarleton Center for Child Well-being. One of the most impactful ideas to emerge from the department, the center demonstrates what a university can be for a community.

Dr. Rusty Freed, Barry B. Thompson Service Award

Dr. Freed has provided 35 years of service to Tarleton. Advancing from staff to full Professor in the Department of Management in the College of Business, he has contributed in an overwhelming number of capacities with a consistency and passion for students and the university. Nominators termed Dr. Freed the embodiment of outstanding service.

Dr. Ceyhan Kilic, Jack and Louise Arthur Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Kilic continually demonstrates innovative learning environments while being a reliable source for faculty members seeking ideas to improve their teaching. An Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing and Computer Information Systems, his colleagues say he is innovative, continually strives to improve and learn, and works to enhance meaningful student engagement.

Dr. Colin Pennington, Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award

Dr. Pennington joined Tarleton three and a half years ago and quickly established himself as one of the department’s most prolific scholarship producers. He has over 50 publications, eight book chapters and more than 50 presentations; he has edited two books. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Sport Science in the College of Education and Human Development, he intensely supports the university’s goals and mission.

Dr. Beth Riggs, Faculty Excellence in Student Success Award

Dr. Riggs, a Professor in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Science and Technology, works diligently to stay ahead of the evolving Educator Preparation Program requirements, promoting student success in completing teacher certification while also keeping the math department compliant with local and state requirements.

Dr. Steve Damron and Dr. David Drueckhammer, Tarleton Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty

Dr. Damron worked in higher education for more than 30 years, developing and teaching over 35 traditional and online courses. He was the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a faculty advisor to more than 1,500 students. He served on numerous committees and held several leadership roles. While Dr. Damron is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the programs he helped build and the students he helped shape.

Dr. Drueckhammer often comments lightheartedly that he has held almost every position in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, from professor and interim department head to interim dean and many more. He has been a researcher, an educator, a mentor, a leader and a fan.

Dr. Daniel Marble, Texas A&M University System’s Regents Professor

Dr. Marble is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Geosciences and Physics in the College of Science and Technology, and he has an exceptional record as a scholar and teacher. While his contributions have largely benefited students, he has made a tremendous impact on physics education in leading the Texas Physics Consortium. As TPC Director he was instrumental in proposing, designing and implementing the agreements between member institutions. He has coordinated efforts to start two undergraduate degree programs at Tarleton and is an accomplished researcher, running the nuclear accelerator lab and thereby giving students experience that normally would be possible only through national labs. Graduates under his mentorship have gone on to complete their doctoral degrees, and many now work as researchers, professors and directors of national facilities.

Staff honorees:

Brenda Strong, Judy Geye and Amanda Petrosian, Excellence Award

Strong, coordinator of Certification Testing and Program Accountability, received her bachelor’s from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and began her career in 1996 at Tarleton, where she also received her master’s degree. In a job she calls challenging yet rewarding at the highest level, she is charged with ensuring that students meet program requirements.

Geye, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Psychological Sciences in Academic Affairs, has been with Tarleton since 2011. Her efficient techniques of searching for ideas have saved the department money and streamlined many processes.

Petrosian earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech; after she began her career at Tarleton in 2017, she pursued her master’s in higher education and became a Tarleton alumna. The Assistant Director of Financial Aid Operations in Enrollment Management, she has worked with vendors to develop processes that cut costs for her department and strengthened record keeping.

Taylor Welch, Student Employee of the Year Award

Welch, an Intern-2-Learn at KTRL Radio, graduates in May with her bachelor’s in music. A member of the Tarleton Honors College, she also is a fourth-generation Tarleton Texan. She has a bright future in audio and digital video production with numerous job prospects in Austin and DFW. She is the lead producer and head DJ at KTRL and a five-year member and head drum major for Tarleton’s The Sound and The Fury marching band. She takes on leadership roles in many areas, both at work and in extracurricular activities.

Soncee Heard, Presidential Staff Award

Heard, coordinator of Applied Learning Initiatives in the Department of Applied Learning, is a double alumna, earning her bachelor’s in animal science and master’s in business from Tarleton. She exemplifies the Tarleton core values of excellence, integrity and respect, consistently demonstrating her passion for Tarleton on campus and through community involvement.

Emily Treadaway, Danielle Dunigan and Alisa Meriweather, Respect Award

Treadaway has worked at Tarleton since 2013; she earned her bachelor’s in business before joining Enrollment Management as Assistant Director of Admissions. She exudes positivity and always places students at the forefront of her decision-making.

Dunigan, Undergraduate Recruitment Admissions Counselor in the Division of Enrollment Management, received her bachelor’s in computer information systems and a bachelor’s in business, both from Tarleton. Peers describe her as going above and beyond in serving students. She confidently represents all campus locations and actively listens to the concerns of prospective students.

Meriweather, student development specialist and facilities manager for Tarleton-Fort Worth, has worked at Tarleton since 2015; she earned her bachelor’s in psychology. Working across all divisions, she assists students, faculty and staff with a variety of concerns and sees each job to completion.

Sabrina Baker, Dr. Kayla Kelly and Kajsa Pearson, Integrity Award

Baker is Executive Assistant for University Compliance in the Division of Finance and Administration. She has been with Tarleton since 2002 and received her bachelor’s in administrative systems and master’s in management and leadership from Tarleton. The definition of a team player, she helped tremendously in the effort to inform the campus regarding COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Dr. Kelly, the Director of Community College Relations in the Division of External Operations, received her bachelor’s in animal science, master’s in leadership, and doctorate in educational leadership, all from Tarleton. She has built community partnerships that strengthen Tarleton’s identity in the Fort Worth area. She serves on multiple city boards and participates in community efforts to improve the lives of adults and children. She connects Tarleton departments with area community colleges.

Pearson received her bachelor’s in communication from Tarleton in 2013 and has been with the university for seven years. She is the Director of Recruitment in the Division of Enrollment Management. She volunteers on campus events for prospective students and genuinely cares about students having the best experience while getting to know Tarleton.