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5 APSU faculty members receive top 2006 awards

During the recent Academic Honors and Awards Day, five Austin Peay State University faculty members were singled out for special recognition.

Dr. David Kanervo, professor of political science, received the Alumni Associations Distinguished Professor Award, while Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, was presented the Distinguished Community Service Award.
During the recent Academic Honors and Awards Day, five Austin Peay State University faculty members were singled out for special recognition.

Dr. David Kanervo, professor of political science, received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Professor Award, while Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, was presented the Distinguished Community Service Award.

Recipients of the 2006 Socrates Award were Dr. Anne Wall, assistant professor of education, Dr. Gilbert Pitts, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Gregory Wolynec, assistant professor of music and director of bands.

Kanervo earned a bachelor's degree from Millikin University, master's degree from National University and Ph.D. from Union Institute and University.

Throughout his many years at APSU, Kanervo has taught myriad courses in the area of American government, and because the Department of Political Science committed to offering its major online, he has taught several Web courses.

Although most of his scholarly work has been in the areas of urban and local politics, his primary focus always has been on teaching, which, according to him, does not stop in the classroom. He has about 160 advisees and is the faculty adviser for two student organizations.

He is asked often for his expert opinions on political issues. At a recent international conference on campus, Kanervo talked with Southern Sudanese delegates about how to transition their political movement into a political party and what being a democracy will entail.

Rayburn holds a Ph.D. in Graph Theory and Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education from Lipscomb University. She came to APSU in 1989 as assistant professor, becoming a professor in 2000.
She has authored several refereed publications, made countless scholarly talks and presentations and participated in many professional conferences. She also has authored student materials and instructor notes for two modules of the Math 1010 course.

Besides her work on the departmental curriculum committee, Rayburn's professional service is noteworthy. From 2001 through 2006, she coached APSU teams in the International Mathematics Contest in Modeling. She developed an online statistics course in 2001 and served as co-director of the APSU Middle School Mathematics Contest during 1994-2001.

Wall earned a doctoral degree in education from Tennessee State University, a master's in curriculum and instruction from APSU and bachelor's from the University of Kansas.

She taught fifth grade in the local school system for several years. Among her honors, in 2000, she received the International Reading Association's Presidential Award for Reading and Technology for the Southeast region. Since 2001, she has presented widely at regional, national and international conferences. Her most recent publication (2005) is “Capturing Change: Globalizing the Curriculum through Technology,” which she co-authored with two colleagues.

Pitts, who has completed his second year on the faculty of the APSU Department of Biology, earned his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota.

At APSU, he fulfills the role of animal physiologist, teaching introductory and upper-division courses. With two colleagues, he developed Web-assisted exercises for those courses.

According to Dr. Don Dailey, professor and interim department chair, Pitts' student evaluations are consistently excellent, and he has the reputation for being demanding but fair. According to Dailey, besides Pitts' stellar reputation in the classroom, he has more students seeking a chance to conduct research projects in his lab than he can accommodate.

“He works hard with his students and expects them to be productive,” Dailey said. “The students understand that these high expectations are not excessive but are present in a caring atmosphere where he strives for his students to be successful.”

Wolynec has been described as an effective and successful teacher, who maintains exacting standards for his students. According to Dr. Gail Robinson-Oturu, department chair, he has been successful in achieving high quality performances of challenging music in ensembles.

Robinson-Oturu praised him for concerts that are exciting, inspiring and well executed. She said, “The students demonstrated decided and significant progress and presented a top-quality performance … There is a consistency in quality from his ensembles, which are comprised of students with varying skill levels.”

Wolynec also is an effective recruiter for the department. He organized and conducted APSU student and faculty ensembles in schools throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. He has organized high school festivals, including the Governors Honor Band Festival. In Fall 2005, he organized two new festivalsGovernors Middle School Honor Band Festival and the Governors All State Preparatory Workshop for Instrumentalists.

According to Robinson-Oturu, he balances his academic assignment with impressive scholarly activities and service to the University.

The Distinguished Professor Award is based on professional performance with major emphasis on teaching. The Distinguished Community Service Award is based on service to the community with emphasis on contributions that have enhanced or will enhance the quality of life in the local area. The Socrates Award recognizes outstanding teaching by tenure-track faculty members who have not received tenure yet. — Dennie B. Burke