Dalton State Faculty and Staff Recognized with Foundation Awards


Dr. Hussein Mohamed is known for being a dynamic professor who engages with students in a way that makes them feel valued and helps them succeed.

Mohamed, an associate professor of biology at Dalton State, received the Dalton State Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award this year.

“Dr. Mohamed is clearly valued by students, peers and the greater Dalton State community,” said Dr. Bruno Hicks, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “His teaching evaluations are outstanding. His creative use of technology in the classroom, particularly with the use of interactive clickers for in-person instruction, immediately assesses learning and understanding.”

These methods increased student engagement and learning, said Dr. Marina Smitherman, chair of the Department of Life Sciences.

One of Mohamed’s students wrote, “You are a professor who cares about students and wants to give every opportunity to them, so they learn and succeed instead of failing. You are what every professor should be!” A peer wrote, “Students appreciate his friendly, patient and personal teaching style.”

Mohamed received excellent ratings from students and peer evaluations, Hicks said.

“Some of his peers have told me he is able to explain complex concepts in a way that makes them easy for students to understand,” he said. “What a way to describe an excellent teacher and professor.”

Others receiving Foundation Awards this year were: Dr. Kevin Yan, assistant professor of management information systems, who received the Excellence in Scholarship and Professional Development Award; Dr. Fernando Garcia, assistant professor of business, who received the Excellence in Service Award; Carolina Hammontree, lecturer in management, who received the Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching; and Dr. Cheryl Owens, director of the Ken White Student Health Center, who received the Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award.

Yan not only contributes to his discipline through scholarship and development, but he shares that knowledge with his peers in conferences both nationally and internationally, as well as with his students and colleagues, Hicks said.

“Yan’s energy and production are impressive,” Hicks said. “He is clearly a motivated scholar that represents Dalton State and the Wright School of Business well. Since he arrived at Dalton State in 2017, he has published seven papers and recently presented his work at the 2020 International Conference on Information Systems, a competitive conference. Notably, his paper won ‘Best Paper in Track’ from that conference’s committee.

Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business, said Yan’s work is original and positive and contributes to business students’ experience. Yan teaches them current practices in the field of information systems based on his research.

Garcia represents Dalton State’s faculty both on campus and in the community through his dedication to service.

“Dr. Garcia’s service record demonstrates a substantial commitment of time and expertise,” Hicks said. “I am impressed by the sheer amount of service he has given on campus and in the Dalton community, as well as the variety of service areas.”

Garcia has served on committees, such as the Faculty Development Committee and the International Education Committee. He works to provide travel abroad opportunities to students and has assisted in developing articulation agreements with international schools. Even during the global pandemic, Garcia worked to continue providing students international study virtually.

Garcia represents the college on the advisory board for the Latin American Association, a group dedicated to empowering Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive.

Hammontree is the “perfect example that teaching comes down to the relationship between the teacher and the student,” Helms said. “She is an excellent lecturer, skilled in bringing the global business world and international guest speakers along with actual company projects into the classroom.”

Hammontree is praised by her students, who note they gain real-world knowledge and experience in the classroom. They also mentioned how inviting and relevant Hammontree’s class is.

“She is one of the best professors I’ve ever had, and I would retake the course if I could,” one student wrote.

Hammontree is engaged on campus, serving on several committees, and helps with student organizations. She is the advisor for the Association of Latino Professionals for America and is actively involved with Latinx/Hispanic populations both on campus and in the Northwest Georgia communities. Dalton State is Georgia’s first and only Hispanic-Serving Institution, a federal designation given to colleges where at least 25% of the student population identifies as Hispanic.

Owens has been responsible for tracking COVID-19 cases on campus. But she has gone above and beyond by taking time to check in on students and employees who have had the virus, said David Elrod, Dalton State Foundation director.

Owens takes special care of those who live alone or have no or little family support.

“She called and checked on those folks several times during their illnesses and quarantine periods,” one person wrote in their nomination. “She made sure they were drinking plenty of fluids, had access to medication and had enough food for the quarantine.”

Owens has worked long hours to ensure the campus stayed safe during the pandemic, and recently her focus has shifted to vaccinating the campus community.  

“She cares for everybody like they’re her own,” one person wrote. “She remembers birthdays and celebrates them. She makes everybody feel like they’re a part of the family. She has a motherly instinct where she’s going to take care of everybody.”