Faculty and Staff Receive Excellence Awards


Dr. Cheryl Owens saw a student’s passion for caring for newborns.

She allowed that student to volunteer in her obstetrics labs and take the lead on practice scenarios involving emergency care of a newborn in distress.

Owens, an assistant professor of nursing who is also a longtime midwife, doesn’t just teach her students nursing skills. She gets to know them and makes connections with them. Those characteristics are among the reasons she received this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award from the Dalton State Foundation.

“This instructor is truly achieving the goal of their teaching philosophy, which is to establish a personal connection with each student. She cares about their personal and professional success,” said Dr. Andy Meyer, interim vice president for Academic Affairs, who announced the winner. “A comment from her supervisor indicates Dr. Owens is extremely versatile and teaches everything from introductory courses, as well as developing new upper level courses. Her drive to improve her teaching means that no class is ever taught the same way twice. She’s a leader in incorporating service learning into the student experience, and as a result, her class put on a health fair that brought 22 vendors and booths to our campus.”

Others receiving Foundation awards include: Dr. Ellie Jenkins, Excellence in Professional Development/Scholarship; Jerry Drye, Excellence in Service; Dick Hennier, Barbara Shiffler ’79 Award for Business Teaching; and Chris Bedwell, Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award.

Jenkins, assistant professor of music, spends much of her time outside teaching traveling, researching, and coordinating events surrounding music. She also led the effort to bring an Associate of Art in Music degree to the College.

“Dr. Jenkins is extremely dedicated to her field and her program,” Meyer said. “She has been extremely active in producing, disseminating, and promoting the scholarship of her discipline around the nation and the world.”

Drye, associate professor of communication, never hesitates to serve Dalton State.

“He is ubiquitous on campus and is always willing and excited about serving,” Meyer said. “He is eager to help and support colleagues both in and out of the classroom. He’s active in Student Life events including Rage Days, has been on the selection committees for both student scholarships and the graduation speaker. He has served as a consultant in creating an open source textbook for the Department of Communication. Having the gift of gab, Mr. Drye has served as the keynote speaker for many events on campus.”

Drye won the award in teaching in 2013.

Hennier, associate professor of management and marketing, has taught at the College since 1999. In that time he has also served on committees and helped develop curriculum.

“But it is the student comments that best describe the type of teacher he is, ‘one who vividly brings his life experience and education into the classroom to motivate and inspire,’” said Dr. Larry Johnson, dean of the School of Business. “In the long lists provided in response to the question ‘What positive things did your instructor do that helped your learning experience?’ there are entries such as ‘good sense of humor and great stories,’ ‘very knowledgeable,’ and ‘he cares.’ I think that comment ‘he cares’ best personifies him and will be his legacy at Dalton State.”

Bedwell, system administrator for the Office of Computing and Information Services, is known for responding quickly and cheerfully to requests for computer reports.

“Most recently, I requested data on a Saturday to meet a Monday-at-5 deadline. He had it to me by midday Sunday,” David Elrod, director of the Foundation, said reading one of Bedwell’s nominations. “Apparently this is not unusual behavior for him. His supervisor said he often works unusually late and long nighttime and weekend hours as to minimize technological disruptions to the rest of us. I am told that his co-workers respect him because he understands how all the pieces fit together. He knows how to solve problems.”