Radford University names recipients of prestigious awards for faculty excellence

Five distinguished Radford University faculty members are now recipients of the university’s most prestigious award. The 2021 Dalton Eminent Scholar Award goes to faculty members with distinguished national or international reputations in their fields. The annual awards provide these faculty members the opportunities they deserve to go above and beyond in their respective disciplines.

Each faculty winner receives a $10,000 award to fund research travel and materials and a $5,000 award following successful completion of research and scholarly activity. The awards are provided by the Radford University Foundation, Inc., and through the Dalton Eminent Scholars Fund. They were originally established in the late 1980s and early 1990s to honor United States District Judge Ted Dalton and former Virginia Gov. John Dalton. Through a grassroots fundraising campaign, more than $700,000 was raised for the endowment, which now has funds totaling nearly $2 million.

“The remarkable faculty who have been selected for the 2021-2022 Dalton Eminent Scholar Award truly represent the impressive caliber of faculty who call Radford University home,” said Interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D. Each recipient has demonstrated their commitment to academic excellence and student success through their research and scholarship. It is an honor to recognize their achievements and invest in their academic endeavors as they continue to leave their indelible impact on Highlanders for generations to come.”

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D., added that the esteemed faculty “create original knowledge and enhance understanding in their fields of research and creative performance for their professional peers. They embody commitment to excellence in basic and applied research, creative scholarship and performance, and they serve as exemplary role models who use their knowledge and professional expertise to contribute to advancing knowledge and addressing societal needs.  We are honored to call these eminent scholars our colleagues, and we are inspired by their enthusiastic commitment to teaching and to transforming the lives of our students."


Dalton Eminent Scholar Award recipients

The recipients of the 2021 Dalton Eminent Scholar Awards are:

  • Karen Powers, Ph.D., professor of biology in the Artis College of Science and Technology.
  • Kristan Morrison, Ph.D., professor and graduate program coordinator of the School of Teacher Education and Leadership in the College of Education and Human Development.
  • Sharon Roger Hepburn, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.
  • Robert Trent, D.M.A., interim chair, graduate program coordinator and professor of the Department of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The 2021 Dalton Eminent Scholar Rising Star Award recipient is:

  • Richard Gruss, Ph.D., assistant professor of management in the Davis College of Business and Economics.

Powers, who has focused on collaborating with federal and state agencies to best manage rare and threatened mammals during her 15-year career at Radford University, said, “I am grateful that Radford University recognizes our continued hard work in balancing teaching and scholarship, especially in challenging COVID times. This award will directly benefit undergraduates, as it opens avenues to new queries and investigations in ongoing wildlife conservation efforts. I include students in nearly all of my field efforts, giving them marketable skills and field experiences they will carry with them into their future endeavors. I am proud to engage students in my research projects, learning and working side-by-side with them.”

Morrison, who helps prepare the next generation of teachers regionally and nationally, said, “I was delighted to receive this award; this recognition of my past professional contributions and investment in my future scholarship is so encouraging!  The award shows that Radford University is an institution that actively works towards developing knowledge and expertise to share with our students and the world. I am proud of the work my department faculty and I undertake to nurture highly skilled educators who are practiced in high impact teaching strategies, cultural responsiveness, instructional technology, globalization of the curriculum and interdisciplinary teaching.”

Hepburn, who joined the Radford family in 1995, said, “I am honored to be recognized as a Dalton Eminent Scholar and extremely grateful to the Dalton family for their continued commitment to faculty scholarship. This award will not only allow me to gather archival materials essential to my work but will also provide history students with the opportunity to work with those archival materials themselves to produce scholarship of their own. Among my greatest rewards here at Radford is the ability to share my research with my students and bring them into the world of Civil War soldiers with letters and other archival material.”

Trent, who also manages the annual Radford University International Guitar Festival and regularly performs, records and conducts, said, “Having received this award both humbles me, yet serves to drive me to do and be even better. I love my work, and I am grateful for all the opportunities and support I have received. Many thanks for those who thought so well of the work. I’m immensely proud of our faculty and students. They’ve won national and international accolades and standing for Radford University, for the profession and for the good of society. They are high-impact people!”

Gruss, the Rising Star recipient, said, “I’m honored that our work is being recognized. There is a lot of outstanding research being done here at Radford, every day, all over the university, and I’m thrilled that I get to work here among such talented and dedicated people. I like giving students the technical chops that will distinguish them when they join a company, and I especially enjoy proving to students who are doubtful about their math skills that they are more capable than they think.”

More stories about Radford University’s strong tradition of teaching excellence and faculty achievement can be found here.

Feb 11, 2022
Justin Ward
(540) 831-1953