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Top Faculty, Staff Receive Service Awards at Dalton State

Four professors and one staff member recently received top honors at Dalton State’s annual Faculty-Staff Service Awards presentation.

The Dalton State Foundation’s Excellence Awards are awarded each spring to four high performing employees as determined by various selection committees of their peers and students, according to David Elrod, Director of the Dalton State Foundation.

The faculty awards recognize professors who have been identified as having excelled in teaching, scholarship/professional development, and service. The Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching recognizes a member of the Wright School of Business faculty, and the Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award honors an outstanding staff member. Nominations for each category were solicited from the campus community; eligible nominees must be full-time faculty and staff members and had to have been at Dalton State for at least three years.

This year’s winners were: Dr. Mike Hilgemann, associate professor of mathematics, Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching; Dr. John Asplund, assistant professor of mathematics,  Faculty Award for Excellence in Professional Development and Scholarship; Dr. Jenny Crisp, associate professor of English, Faculty Award for Excellence in Service; Dr. David Williams, Assistant Professor of Marketing,  Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching; and Nettie Henderson, human resources assistant, Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award.

Hilgemann, winner of the award for teaching, was recognized for “making a not-so-popular subject (mathematics) engaging, interesting, understandable, and even fun,” said Dr. Pat Chute, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Consistent high scores on evaluations and glowing comments from students show why this professor is a favorite. One student noted that Dr. Hilgemann’s was ‘her favorite class and without realizing it (he) encouraged her to change majors,’” Chute said. Another student noted “You are one of the teachers I will remember 25 years from now,” and another simply said “Best. Teacher. Ever.”

Hilgemann was also lauded by colleagues for working with others to develop affordable, high quality learning materials. Along with others he helped create a free online textbook that can be edited semester to semester so that students do not have to buy updated versions as the content changes. He was recognized for mentoring new faculty and supervising a student with mathematical research in preparation for graduate school.

Joining him from the math department was Asplund whose work was recognized with the award for Professional Development and Scholarship. Asplund was noted for working with scholars around the world on matters of mathematical scholarship and has contributed to 11 publications in internationally ranked journals with nine currently submitted. He has also contributed to the publication of two textbooks that have been used by two colleges and more than 10 high schools.

Asplund has supervised more than 10 research students at Dalton State and other institutions; two of his Dalton State research students received summer research grants from the Dalton State Foundation, and one has presented their research project at Kennesaw State University. He has presented at 16 conferences and workshops across the country and has been invited to speak at more than 20 universities. Asplund is currently organizing a mini symposium to take place this summer in Denver with 15 speakers from across the globe.

Mathematical research, according to his nominator, can be difficult because proper construction of a proof can be elusive. Asplund has been successful in securing grant funding for much of his research. In addition to his achievements in research and scholarship, he remains an excellent classroom teacher as well.

As winner of the Faculty Excellence in Service Award, Crisp was recognized for her commitment to promoting community literacy across much of north Georgia in addition to founding Colloquia: The English Club at Dalton State.

Crisp was the chief architect of the College’s Quality Enhancement Program which focused on developing foundational writing skills among learning support students at Dalton State. She presented on the progress of Dalton State’s QEP at SACS annual meetings in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

She has served on and often led various College initiatives including the School of Liberal Arts Goals Committee, Center for Academic Excellence Leadership Team, Ad Hoc Health Disparities Committee, EDUCAUSE Information Technology Issues Committee, IT Governance and Security Committee, Website Redesign, and Online Education Committees.

Crisp also mentors and trains others in the English department in developing online courses and co-authored an online textbook, The Roadrunners Guide to English.

Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State, recognized Williams as recipient of the Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching. The award is endowed by Shiffler in support of rising faculty stars of the WSOB. Shiffler was a 1976 graduate of Dalton Junior College who cited her accounting professor, Dottie Smith Shaw, as a formative influence in her life and her role model while at school here. Shaw was on hand for the recent award presentation.

Williams was named this year’s recipient for his engaging presence in the classroom and his excellent track record of teaching, research, and significant service in the WSOB and college community.

“This year’s recipient is an excellent lecturer, skilled in bringing the business world into the classroom,” Helms said. She shared comments from student evaluations which said, “Great atmosphere for learning. This professor gets everyone involved in the discussions,” and “The professor is always very current when he shares his knowledge and, which makes it more relevant to our lives,” and “He is more up to date on the trends in social media than I am. The class was on point. I’m glad we are becoming Hootsuite certified.”

Williams is widely published in peer-reviewed journals, particularly in social media topics and is involved with the American Marketing Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

Nettie Henderson, recipient of the Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award, was honored for the impact she has had on every employee of the College and the broad waterfront she has covered as a payroll and Human Resources assistant for 18 years.

“It would be difficult to find another employee of the College who has such a vast reach with her scope of professional responsibilities,” said Elrod in presenting the award.

He read from statements submitted by those who work most closely with Henderson: “She is pivotal. She has a vast amount of institutional knowledge. She can be trusted with anything.” Also, “The work never ends, yet she is always there to lend a helping hand.”

Henderson was noted for her sensitive attention to Dalton State retirees which has included acts of kindness including delivering groceries and driving retirees to doctor’s appointments. Her loving care has been extended to spouses, widows, and widowers of retirees as well.  

She also has a special touch dealing with grieving families when life insurance benefits are administered.

“Among her many duties is to make sure that life insurance matters for surviving dependents are handled promptly, thoroughly, and with great care when an employee dies,” Elrod said. “She always has the right words, patience, and soft character to help families through these difficult times.”

“She has a selfless quality and is always there to listen and help in times of need,” he read. “It’s because of the love she has for the people.”

The service award is named for Beth Burdick who came to work for the College in January 1967 before the campus was even opened and served full-time for 38 years.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Hilgemann, Dr. Asplund, Dr. Crisp, Dr. Williams, and Nettie Henderson,” said Dalton State President Dr. Margaret Venable. “They are representative of the excellent faculty and staff who bring their best selves to work every day for the benefit of their students, their colleagues, and our College.”