category: Campus News

University recognizes faculty, staff with high honors

Carson-Newman University Provost Jeremy J. Bucker, at left, and President Charles A. Fowler awarded Dr. Kara Stooksbury with the Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor given to a faculty member, on Thursday.

(April 8, 2021) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Carson-Newman University presented the institution’s most prestigious faculty and staff recognitions during an April 8 Honors Convocation.

Those honored included Dr. Kara Stooksbury, Anita Newport, Mike Van Bruggen and Dr. April Dye.

Stooksbury received the Distinguished Faculty Award, the University’s highest honor given to a faculty member. In addition to being a professor of Political Science, Stooksbury serves as the chair of the History, Political Science and Sociology Department.

Stooksbury attended Carson-Newman as an undergraduate, planning to major in accounting and pursue a career in business. After taking a political science course with Professor Joe Bill Sloan, Stooksbury changed her major to political science and set her sights on graduate school.

After receiving her master’s and doctoral degrees, Stooksbury eventually returned to her alma mater, where she has become a renowned mentor and advisor to students and faculty. Not only has she served as a reader on many honors projects, but she has directed 11 of them. She spends countless hours working one on one with students to shape their projects and polish their work.

In addition, Stooksbury has created a number of programs that directly benefit students, including those who want to study law. She created the Pre-Law Society and launched a Moot Court program.

While in graduate school, Stooksbury assisted in editing and writing entries for the “Encyclopedia of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Three years ago, she revised and expanded the work and involved a number of her students, giving them an opportunity to publish something early in their careers.

In her nomination letter for the Distinguished Faculty Award, History Professor Beth Vanlandingham said of Stooksbury, “She is an inspired teacher – challenging students to read, to think for themselves, to listen to others and to pay attention to the events of the day. She loves Carson-Newman, she loves her work and she loves her students.”

Dr. Kara Stooksbury is the embodiment of the caliber of teacher we celebrate at Carson-Newman. A keen mind, precise skills of debate, convictional, and devoted to scholarship and teaching. Kara represents the hope we have for all our students,” said University Provost Jeremy Buckner. “We want to help students to find their calling. Kara found her calling and continues to advance awareness and education on issues of civil rights and civil liberties. I know I speak for the faculty when I write that we all look forward to celebrating this coming year with Dr. Kara Stooksbury, our Distinguished Faculty Award winner. She is simply one of the best.”

Carson-Newman University recognized faculty and staff with awards during Thursday’s Honors Convocation. Pictured from left are Provost Jeremy J. Buckner, administrative assistant Anita Newport, Assistant Professor of Psychology April Dye, Director of Sports Medicine Mike Van Bruggen, and University President Charles A. Fowler.

Anita Newport and Mike Van Bruggen were named the 2021 SOAR Award recipients, the highest honor given to staff members. Recipients must have served C-N for at least five years and exhibit passion for furthering the University’s mission, excellence in their job performance, and positivity in their spirit and attitude.

Newport has served the University for 36 years, first as administrative assistant to the Communication Department and for the past nine years serving the Religion Department as well. Nominators said that her attention to detail, competency in her tasks and servant attitude have contributed to her successful and productive relationships with students, faculty and staff.

As the University’s director of Sports Medicine, Mike Van Bruggen has spent the past two decades influencing young men and women to use their athletic ability to not only get an education but to help others. Student-athletes have found Van Bruggen to be someone they can rely on for a sense of normalcy and home while they are enrolled at Carson-Newman. During the pandemic, Van Bruggen collaborated with Student Health Services, Residence Life and other campus departments to create a safe environment so students could continue their on-campus journey.

Dr. April Dye, assistant professor of Psychology, received the Community Service Award in recognition of the manner in which she lives out her faith through service. Dye’s extensive volunteer work includes several ministries with Church Street United Methodist Church. She has served for six years as a volunteer for the Family Resource Center, which helps connect families with support services in the community. In addition to teaching children to ice skate, Dye has spent 10 years as a volunteer with the Imagination Library, which sends free books to East Tennessee children.

The award includes a $500 donation to the charity of Dye’s choosing.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and celebrated a record 2,900 students in the fall. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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