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Faculty and Staff Receive Excellence Awards

Dr. Tricia Scott makes taking students to local industries to see the relevance of what they’re studying a priority. Often, those experiences lead to co-ops, internships, and possible job offers.

Scott, a professor of chemistry at Dalton State, receives glowing student evaluations, which have stated she makes the subject “come alive.” For that, and her other contributions to the students and academics at Dalton State, Scott was honored with this year’s Dalton State Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Enhancing courses with the use of technology and new innovative instructional methods, Dr. Scott encourages learning with real life opportunities,” said Dr. Pat Chute, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Two new bachelor degrees have been added by her contribution to the development of course materials and committed service. She earned this award because of her dedication to improving STEM education, putting students’ success first, mentoring undergraduate research, training students on the new equipment in Peeples Hall, and her general love for teaching.”

Others receiving Foundation Awards include: Dr. Marsha Mathews, Excellence in Scholarship and Professional Development; Dr. Kim Hays, Excellence in Service; Dr. Aisha Meeks, Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching; and Janet Hayes, Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award.

Mathews is described by colleagues as someone who “simply reflects beauty and truth back to us in her craft,” Chute said. “She takes advantage of the professional development opportunities on campus, many of which enhance student learning and course assessment.”

Mathews is an award-winning author, having been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year twice. She has had 27 short stories and poems published; has attended numerous book festivals, conferences and libraries; and has been a featured writer in many literary publications. She has also been a member of the Chattanooga Writers Guild and the Georgia Authors Association, as well as volunteers at the Mack Gaston Community Center where she helps young students with sentence structure and reading skills.

Hays, an assistant professor of biology, is dedicated to helping students and seeing them reach their potential. She is often the “go-to” person for students and many times becomes students’ mentor.

“’An unwavering and passionate commitment to serving the campus community, the greater community of Dalton and beyond’ is how a colleague described Dr. Hays,” Chute said. “She has served as an evaluator, committee member, contest judge, and organizer for events. Service to our local community includes giving numerous presentations to area elementary, middle, and high school students and community groups.”

Hays serves on the athletics committee, CARE team, counseling committee, assessment committee, and the scholarship showcase committee, as well as serving as the history collection curator, textbook reviewer, on the new faculty orientation panel, Beta Chi Nu events, and more.

Meeks, an assistant professor of accounting and the accounting and finance department chair, is often described as “exceptional” or “awesome” by colleagues and students.

“She sets an example of academic distinction across the board, they say, whether it is in her departmental leadership, vibrant research agenda, or service to her profession and the community we call home,” said David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation. “Most importantly though, she is an outstanding teacher, role model, and mentor, and I hear her office and its adjoining hallway are frequently gathering places for students who seek her guidance. Her footprint extends into the larger community when she speaks at high school career days, heads up financial literacy seminars, and participates in Upward Bound programs for low-income high school students who aspire to be the first in their families to attend college.”

Hayes, an alumna of Dalton State, began working at the College in 2007 as an administrative assistant in Enrollment Services. She is known for her organization and her enthusiasm while working on projects. She has simplified the process for filling out forms, reduced paper, and streamlined the information flow.

“She is a mother figure to some of our students, and she encourages them on their paths to graduation,” Elrod said. “I know of one student who would not have graduated a few years ago without her assistance.”

Her spirit of giving extends off campus to her neighborhood, where children are welcome to wait for the bus on her porch, under blankets during the cold months.

In 2014, Hayes helped launch Dalton State’s Birdfeeder food pantry. She continues to be a driving force behind the program, which serves more than 100 students a week, by soliciting donations from churches, civic groups, and local retailers.

“Her examples are some that we could all follow,” Elrod said. “We are intellectually nourished and spiritually fed by her selflessness, compassion, and love for her fellow man.”