University names recipients of highest faculty, staff honors

Campus News | April 06, 2017

Carson-Newman University recognized faculty and staff with its highest recognitions during its annual Honors Convocation. Pictured are: Front row, left to right, SOAR Award recipients David Needs and Shelley Ball. Second row, University Provost Paul Percy, Community Service Award recipient Anya Piotrowski, Distinguished Faculty Award recipient Dr. Jennifer Hall, and University President J. Randall O'Brien.

(April 6, 2017) – Carson-Newman University presented some of its most prestigious faculty and staff recognitions during its annual Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 6. Those honored included Dr. Jennifer Hall, Shelley Ball, David Needs and Anya Piotrowski.

Dr. Jennifer Hall was named recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award, the University's highest honor given to a faculty member. Dr. Hall began her career at Carson-Newman as a student. In 1992, she received her bachelor’s degree, with honors, in both English and history. She went on to earn a master’s from Western Carolina University and her PhD in English from the University of Tennessee. She joined Carson-Newman's faculty in 1995 and is now a professor in the English Department. In addition, she has been director of the Appalachian Cultural Center for the past three years. Hall is described as a "favorite" professor by many students, with one student stating, "I never had a teacher work me so hard and care so much."

"Dr. Hall is a champion in the classroom and in the community," noted C-N Provost Paul Percy. "Students often say she is the best teacher they've ever had, and that they did not know that a professor could be so tough and yet so compassionate at the same time. It's a joy to recognize her."

Outside the classroom, Hall has served as board president for Cure Finders, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. She is also active at First Baptist Church of Sevierville and is an active volunteer at King’s Academy school, where her children attend.

For her various activities in the community, Hall was the recipient of the 2014 Carson-Newman Community Service Award.

Shelley Ball and David Needs were named this year's SOAR Award recipients, the highest honor given to staff members. Ball serves as dean of students. Her colleagues describe her as someone who demonstrates professionalism, competence and excellence in ways that are invaluable to the University. Her dedication to Carson-Newman is evident to those who work with her and she has been described as someone who takes a personal interest in the lives of students and wants nothing more than for students to grow, learn and succeed.

Needs is Carson-Newman’s head track and field head coach. He joined the University in 1996. His men’s team is currently one of the highest ranked teams in the Southeast and in 2016, finished 17th in the nation. In addition to coaching, Needs also takes an active role as an educator having taught 16 different classes in his time at C-N. He has also developed new courses including a service learning course, Sport as a Mission, a class designed to link faith and development through service. Needs is also a historian, who has done extensive research on the Mossy Creek area.

Anya Piotrowski is 2017's Community Service honoree. Piotrowski, who serves as Community Development coordinator at the Bonner Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, created the Appalachian Summit on Service Learning Pedagogy & Practice. The summit has now been running for over four years, having hosted hundreds of participants from more than five states. In addition to her work on campus, Piotrowski serves as an at-large member of the Jefferson Health Council and has been an active member of the Mossy Creek Foundation for more than three years, including serving as Chair of their Organization Committee that helped spearhead efforts to bring a new park to downtown Jefferson City.

"Anya takes care of people, and she goes beyond expectations to help improve things that are important to our community," said Carson-Newman President J. Randall O'Brien. "It’s rather amazing what all she has done for this area in just a few years, and she does it because she thinks living in a community means being invested in it."