2018 Award Recipients

Ann Neish Elliott

Ann Neish Elliott, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Dr. Elliott teaches a broad range of graduate and undergraduate courses with a broad range of techniques but her teaching philosophy is the same, “…based on the premise that students must develop curiosity about the learning process, a strong knowledge base, and the ability to acquire and apply knowledge in non-classroom settings.” She incorporates her own clinical and research experiences in her teaching. She also incorporates student feedback, modifying her courses based on student comments and her own self-appraisal of strengths and weaknesses of the course. She expects students to work hard and take responsibility for their own academic success however she also spends numerous hours one-on-one with students to help them develop the study skills they need to succeed. Both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in her research activities to stimulate their curiosity and excitement about acquiring and sharing knowledge. All of her publications have student collaborators. Students perceive the courses to be quite challenging yet consistently provide exceptionally positive evaluations.  They find that the content and the rigor of her classes prepares them to meet the demands of their careers and graduate studies.

Dr. Elliott is described by a colleagues as “tireless,” as a teacher who “spends hours and hours preparing for every class”. Similarly she supports her colleagues, sharing her techniques and helping them work through classroom issues. “The students that Ann mentors in her research lab get hours and hours of one-on-one guided experience. The students that come out of her lab have real research skills that prepare them for the next step in their professional career”. A former student and research assistant noted that she “has been essential to my development as a professional through her endless support, encouragement, and dedication.” Another remarked that “she has left a mark on myself and countless other students through her work as an exemplary professor.” A current student found that she “is a perpetual educator and the epitome of distinguished teaching. I am fortunate to have been a student and to have learned invaluable lessons from an excellent professor. More importantly, I am grateful to know such an outstanding human being.”

Dr. Elliott earned the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Northern Illinois University. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Lynchburg College and the M.A. in Counseling Psychology of Children and Adolescents from Boston College. She is the Director for the Center for Gender Studies and serves on the Editorial Board for the journal Child Maltreatment.

Student Honoree – Alyson Faires

Ms. Faires is currently a student in the Psy.D. program at Radford University, having already completed the master’s degree program in Clinical-Counseling Psychology. Alyson excelled in every area of the master’s degree program. In addition, she is a mature, kind and compassionate individual. She demonstrated excellent clinical skills working with prisoners on her internship at the Bland Correctional Center in the Mental Health Unit. She served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow teaching sections of Introduction to Psychology. She demonstrated exceptional research skills on a project examining childhood victimization, polyvictimization, and mental health symptoms in college students. Based on this work, she had four presentations at local or regional conferences. She and Dr. Elliott also co-authored a manuscript which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of College Counseling. Growing up in an exceedingly rural part of central Maine, 45 minutes from the nearest true grocery store, she observed the effects of poverty up close, and the difficulty of accessing good physical and mental health care. These experiences have shaped her future goals and we are very proud and lucky that she is currently in her second year pursuing her doctoral degree in the PsyD program at Radford University where she can continue her focus on rural mental health and social justice.


Jolanta W. Wawrzycka, Ph.D., Professor of English

Distinguished Creative Scholar Award

Jolanta W. Wawrzycka

Dr. Wawrzycka has developed a record of scholarship that spans the decades and the globe. The focus of her research has been the works of James Joyce and Irish/Modernist literature.  She is widely published in prestigious regional, national and international peer-reviewed academic journals. She has authored translations of Joyce’s and W. B. Yeats’s poetry into Polish while her own work has been translated into numerous languages. She recently edited Reading Joycean Temporalities (Brill/Rodopi 2018) and co-edited James Joyce’s Silences (Bloomsbury 2018). She has contributed to the editing of several scholarly journals, as well as authoring over a dozen of book chapters. As a scholar of literature and translation, she describes her work as operating “on the ‘atomic level’ of words to speculate why a word, phrase, or a thought may be impossible to render equivocally in other languages and cultures.” She regularly presents at national and international conferences.  At the same time, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and works with students includes undergraduate and graduate students in her research. Many of her students present their research at international conferences. She has conducted study abroad programs on Joyce/Yeats in Ireland and designed elaborate multimedia resources with archival materials and audio-visuals that have been a staple of her pedagogy.

One of her colleagues noted that her “creative approach to being a teacher, scholar and translator advances not only our students’ understanding of the value of scholarship but of Radford University’s reputation further afield.” Her election as a member of the Board of Trustees of the International James Joyce Foundation is a “clear indication of the high level of esteem in which she is held by her peers in her discipline.”

Dr. Wawrzycka earned the Ph.D. in English from Southern Illinois University. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Philology from the University of Wrocław, Poland. She received the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award in 2009 and the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Scholar award in 2017. She serves on the Board of Trustees on the International James Joyce Foundation and on the editorial board of James Joyce Quarterly.

Student Honoree – Julia M. Kelley

I met Mikaela Kelley in my undergraduate English literary theory class in the fall of 2016. A reserved student sitting right at my elbow, she didn’t speak much but I could see the “wheels of her mind” turning constantly. When she did speak, her comments were thoughtful but also thought-provoking.

Towards the end of the semester, she delivered an outstanding presentation on theoretical reading of James Joyce’s story in Dubliners: she applied theories of Mikhail Bakhtin on language to interpret Joyce’s use of narrative strategies to create an unsympathetic character. Her classmates and I were truly impressed – hers was the best presentation that semester and is still among the best ever in this course. Although she was “only” an undergraduate, I invited Mikaela to submit her paper to the 2017 Graduate James Joyce Conference at the University of Rome.

Not only was her paper accepted - her presentation was outstanding. So much so, that the director of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, present at the Rome conference, invited her to join the prestigious Zurich Foundation August Workshop. As her teacher, I was immensely proud to see her deliver her presentation like a pro, participate in discussions, and fit in so well with the rest of the international scholars. She thrived thanks to her wit, her knowledge, and her quiet, confident independence. Not many students can brag to have attended two international scholarly events before even starting graduate school. Mikaela can, though she won’t. She has just entered our English graduate program and she is planning to work on her MA thesis on Joyce. I’m very much looking forward to directing her thesis and to learning with her and from her.


Kim Gainer, Ph.D., Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences

Distinguished Service Award

Kim Gainer

Kim Gainer, Ph.D., Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Kim Gainer has tirelessly served Radford University since joining the faculty in 1988. Her record of service contributions is both broad and deep, extending from departmental level projects to impactful university level service. The academy is full of opportunities for faculty to be involved but very few demonstrate her willingness to take on such a magnanimous share. That she does so in an unfailingly positive and ungrudging way provides eloquent testimony to her heart for service, from which we have all benefited so richly for so many years. Her service is both formal and less formal, such as through using her experience to offer advice to others on how to get things done. Her record of exceptional service began with participation in the Writing Across the Curriculum program, then moved on to various student retention programs, and more recently, through planning for the Writing Center in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. She has taught CORE courses and mentored graduate students teaching CORE 101 and 102. She also shepherded several new professors through the early stages of their careers with patience, skill and grace, according to one colleague. She has served as Secretary of the Faculty Senate, redesigning the web site and greatly improving online access to Senate agendas, motions and minutes. In this role she also served on the Internal Governance Working Group which successfully moved forward proposals for an overhaul of the internal governance structure. She became Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) in 2016.

In the words of a colleague, “Dr. Gainer is smart, hard-working, humble and loves Radford University.” She is described as having a “deep devotion to the well being of her colleagues and students.” Another colleague noted that her “record of service to Radford University, as well as to her profession, is both extensive and extremely impressive. It is difficult for me to imagine a more compelling case for the award than that presented in support of Dr. Gainer.”

Dr. Gainer earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in English from The Ohio State University. She received the B.A. summa cum laude in English from Rhode Island College.  

Student Honoree – James Michael Walden

James began work on his degree at the New River Community College, where he completed most of his Core Curriculum requirements before coming to Radford University and immersing himself in the English major. James is a perceptive reader, an excellent writer, and an insightful contributor to class discussion. He has read widely both for his courses and on his own, and he applies his reading both in his essays and during class meetings. He also is a generous classmate, sharing items he comes across that are relevant to reading assignments and pointing his classmates toward primary and secondary texts that they might be able to use for their projects.

James has completed one course with me, British Literary History I, a 300-level courses, and is enrolled in a second one, the Author in Context, a 400-level, writing-intensive course. In British Literary History I, he excelled on all assignments, from daily reading quizzes and weekly logs, to researching and writing an essay on satire in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, to completing numerous creative assignments. He wrote a poem modeled on Old English alliterative poetry and another modeled on the poetry of the Alliterative Revival. He created a manuscript page that featured both inked lettering and an illumination. He wrote a poem based on a portrait from Chaucer’s General Prologue. He composed an English sonnet, a Spenserian sonnet, and a brief sonnet sequence. He invented an “Edutopia,” a description of an ideal educational system modeled on Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.

Two weeks into Author in Context, he again is proving to be an excellent log writer and an articulate participant in class discussions. Additionally, we are only now beginning the first steps toward the Researched Essay and the accompanying Oral Presentation, but from email exchanges and conversations before and after class, I already can tell that James’s project, on the themes of temptation-fall-redemption/damnation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, will interest and educate both his classmates and his instructor.

Given James’s ability to leverage his intellectual curiosity into contributions that have benefited both his classmates and his instructor, he is a worthy recipient of this scholarship.


Elizabeth Altieri, Ph.D., Professor of Education

Distinguished Faculty Advising Award

Elizabeth Altieri

Dr. Elizabeth Altieri is well-respected throughout the college, university, community and beyond not only for knowledge of her field, but the manner in which she shares her passion for teaching, learning and student success. Her approach is driven by her motto “The formation of caring relations is central in both teaching and life itself.” She takes the time to develop real and respectful relationships with her students so that they trust her to share their struggles and successes. She recognizes the need to nurture the professional characteristics and dispositions so necessary for surviving the rigors of teaching.

She is a huge advocate for Special Education and is working to address the critical shortage in this field in Virginia. As the Graduate Coordinator for the Special Education program, she recruits, advises and supports graduate students, many of whom are working adults and thus have different needs than on campus undergraduates. She works with potential students to remove barriers that may keep qualified ones form enrolling in the program. She helps them to understand the numerous timelines, prerequisites, and other licensure hurdles that must be met for the university to certify them in a way which is                                                     welcoming and clear.

Success in this category may be better demonstrated through the voices of students:

  • She is the reason I chose Radford.
  • She has the complete package… wisdom, commitment and a genuine love for students.
  • Her devotion to the field of special education has enriched countless lives through the confidence and knowledge she has passed on.
  • Dr. Altieri goes out of her way to make sure advisees have all the support they need and the reassurance to help one to be successful.

Dr. Altieri earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: K-8 Education from Virginia Tech. She received an M.S. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. in Exceptional Child Education from Florida Atlantic University. She joined the faculty at Radford University in 2002 and has raised over $3 million in grant funding.

Student Honoree – Jasmine Stott

Jasmine came to Radford from the Martinsville area 3 years ago through a non-traditional path. She has experience in the field, both as a PALS tutor and a paraprofessional in an elementary school. She has three siblings with disabilities and she grew up helping her mother care for them; she still continues to help care for them today. These experiences helped her realize that Special Education was her true calling.

Erin Webster Garrett, Ph.D., former Professor of English and Director of the Scholar-Citizen Initiative

Anna Lee Stewart Award for Contributions to Faculty Development

Erin Webster Garrett

Dr. Erin Webster Garrett had a long and diverse history at Radford, beginning as an assistant professor in 2001. She was cited by a colleague as being “an engaged teacher, devoted mentor, and productive scholar…” Throughout she has sought to connect with and contribute to a community of practice that prioritizes engaging students in active and authentic learning. One colleague noted that “Her methodical and vigorous efforts defined what it means to serve the university community.” Another colleague remarked that “The very nature of Erin’s approach to education is inspiring and positively impacts those who come into contact with her.” As Director of the University’s Quality Enhancement Program – the Scholar-Citizen Initiative (SCI) from 2012-2017, she facilitated 48 faculty development programs with topics ranging from race in the class to teaching in Appalachia that created small, intentional opportunities for reframing how we think and go about working with students. In addition, she created grant initiatives for faculty to receive specialized training in curriculum development and reform. She is a champion for high impact practices, interdisciplinary collaboration, meaningful assessment, and innovation in education. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities on an initiative for digitizing the humanities.

She earned a PhD in Literary Studies at the University of Denver after receiving the BA in English from the University of Richmond in 1990, and a MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Her scholarship has centered on the literary career of Mary Shelley, and she authored The Literary Career of Novelist Mary Shelley after 1822: Romance, Realism, and the Politics of Gender. During the 2012-13 academic year she was selected for the Provost’s Executive Leadership Development Program. In 2017, she received a prestigious American Council on Education fellowship and was hosted by Southern Connecticut State University. 


Jeanne Mekolichick, Ph.D., Associate Provost and Professor of Sociology

Administrative and Professional Excellence Award

Jeanne Mekolichick

Dr. Jeanne Mekolichick is a distinguished leader and advocate for student success. She uses her position and resources to take the best ideas and turns them into a reality, working tirelessly to ensure success. She uses her ability to cultivate people and creates solid structures to innovate across the campus, making a direct and lasting impact on students and their success. One colleague wrote that “I consider Jeanne a mentor and a source of sage wisdom I can lean on no matter how busy is.  She works tirelessly to make Radford University better and does not publicly take the credit she deserves for all of her work creating victories both large and small for our students and faculty.” Another colleague noted that “She pushes everyone around her to reach farther and do more as we all work to help our students and faculty be successful.” Adding to this, another colleague noted that she does so “…in a supporting, encouraging manner that is collaborative, authentic and inspiring.” She is strong advocate for high impact practices. For example, working with colleagues in Biology, the team received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to embed “Making”/project-based learning in the STEM curriculum, support peer mentoring and offer faculty development on diversity and inclusion. She also partners with colleagues in Student Affairs on the living-learning community initiative. As a scholar, she co-authors publications with her colleagues about successful strategies she helped implement at the University.

Dr. Mekolichick earned a Ph.D. in Sociology at Kent State University, where she also received her M.A. and B.A., summa cum laude, in Sociology. She joined the Radford University faculty in 2001. She served on the SCHEV state-wide task force on Quality and Assessment that developed state-wide learning outcomes for programs at state universities. She serves on the Council on Undergraduate Research and has been a member of its Executive Board since 2014. She was selected for the Provost’s Executive Leadership Development Program in 2013. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Student Honoree – Jessica C. Mundy

Jessica is senior English major. I have known her for almost three years as a student in the Accelerated Research Opportunities (ARO) Living-Learning Community (LLC) and a work-study student and researcher in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). Importantly, over a year ago, my office and the OURS office were co-located in the same suite. Thus, during this time, I have had the pleasure to know Jessica as a student and work with her as a junior colleague in the office.

Jessica’s record of academic excellence is impressive. Beyond her stellar GPA, she has delivered 10 presentations, co-authored three successfully-funded grants and four publications. A review of the themes covered in her program of research reveals an interest and dedication to improving pedagogical practices, thus offering important contributions to teaching practices at Radford University and higher education more generally.

Jessica has demonstrated leadership through her roles as a Resident Director for the STEM Summer Bridge Program, her mentorship in the ARO LLC, and as a work-study student with OURS. My familiarity with Jessica has been through her roles as a leader in ARO and her work in OURS. In my experience, Jessica is conscientious, responsible, always willing to help, and goes far beyond my expectations for what an undergraduate should be able to achieve. Indeed, initially I thought she was a graduate student! I have observed her work with other students, been a sounding board as she critically and thoughtfully wrestled with challenges in managing ARO teams, and nearby as she skillfully planned and executed the many logistics for the Student Engagement Forum. Clearly, Jessica is a valuable asset to the Radford University community.

Not only is Jessica a pleasure to work with on an academic and professional level, she is also very personable, engaging, and professional beyond her years. Just like her thirst for learning, her energetic personality is equally infectious. I welcomed her daily greetings, asking me “how’s it going” and hearing about her classes and adventures. In many ways, Jessica embodies what we hope for all of our students: to grow as curious, confident young adults who love learning, approach life with a positive attitude, and are committed to their community.