Go back

APSU recognizes outstanding faculty during 2017 awards ceremony

Dr. Steven Ryan

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Aug. 23, Austin Peay State University recognized several outstanding faculty members during a faculty awards ceremony in the Mabry Concert Hall.

The University’s top faculty honor, the APSU National Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award, was presented to Dr. Steven Ryan, professor of languages and literature. Ryan first arrived at Austin Peay in 1977 as an assistant professor with a deep interest in 20th century American literature. Over the next 40 years, he developed a reputation as a serious and gifted scholar, publishing numerous works in prestigious academic journals across the country. In the late 1980s, he turned his attention to Clarksville and the modern writers who once lived here, including Evelyn Scott and Caroline Gordon. He developed a graduate level class, Clarksville and the Southern Renascence, which spotlighted this community’s rich literary heritage while providing APSU students with a tangible way of connecting with literary works.

The University also presented three tenure-track faculty members with the Socrates Award, which recognizes those instructors and professors who are known around campus for their ability to inspire and motivate students. This year’s recipients were Dr. Timothy Wesley, assistant professor of history; Dr. Tara Alvey, assistant professor of teaching and learning; and Dr. Jennifer Yantz, assistant professor of mathematics.

The University’s Richard M. Hawkins Award, presented each year to a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional scholarly and creative behavior, was presented to Billy Renkl, professor of art and design. Renkl earned his MFA in studio art, drawing and painting from the University of South Carolina, and he joined Austin Peay in the fall of 1989. Over the years, he has garnered an impressive list of solo and group exhibitions in galleries all over the world, including the Taylor Bercier Fine Art gallery in New Orleans and the Gallerie Neue Raume in Berlin, Germany. In 2017, Clarksville’s Customs House Museum and Cultural Center named Renkl as the signature artist for the museum’s annual fundraiser, Flying High.

Each year, the Distinguished Community Service Award recognizes a full-time faculty member or departmental chair whose service has enhanced or will enhance the quality of life in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area. Dr. Benita Bruster, professor of education, received the award this year. After moving to Clarksville, Bruster became concerned about the children who stay with their mothers at the Safehouse for abused women. She wanted to ensure that the women and children had books to read while they were housed at the center, so after discussing this issue with students in her reading courses, she began a book drive to provide books for the shelter. Her students responded with books, but also clothes and other needed supplies. Bruster then worked with Austin Peay students to design educational materials for the mothers, informing them of the importance of reading aloud to their children. She also met with mothers at the Safehouse to council them on handling school and learning issues, and Bruster also provided these women with adult literacy classes, parenting skills training and GED tutorials.

For more information on these awards, contact the APSU Office of Academic Affairs at acadaffairs@apsu.edu.