MGA Faculty and Staff Members Recognized for Scholarship, Service, and Teaching

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 12:00 AM
Categories: School of Arts and Letters | Honors/Awards | Pressroom | School of Health and Natural Sciences | Faculty/Staff

Macon, GA

Top row, l-r: Dawn Snyder, Dr. Larry Israel, Kirby Swenson, Jeannie Ruggerio. Bottom row, l-r: Dr. Andrew Manis, Dr. Christine Rigsby, Carla Higgs. Not pictured: Phillip Lux.

Eight Middle Georgia State University (MGA) faculty and staff members have received awards for excellence in scholarship, service of various kinds, and teaching. The awards were announced at the 2020 fall convocation held virtually on Thursday, August 6.

The recipients are:

Dr. Larry Israel, associate professor of history, Excellence in Scholarship. This award recognizes a faculty member who excels in scholarly activity, such as research, publication, and prominence in one’s chosen field. Israel has spent several summers in China, researching the Ming Dynasty Confucian scholar Wang Yangming, Ming philosopher Zuan Ruoshui, and China’s Confucian traditions. His publications include Doing Good and Ridding Evil in Ming China: The Political Career of Wang Yangming, and various papers and articles. Israel was asked by the University System of Georgia to assist eCore with writing an open-source world history textbook, World History: Cultures, States, and Societies to 1500.

Kirby Swenson, assistant professor of biology, Excellence in Service. Swenson has served on the MGA Faculty Senate since 2013. He has hosted a “Coming to America” Panel  for the last ten years, where international faculty are asked questions related to day-to-day activities in their home countries. He has also presented many times at General Coffee State Park in Douglas, GA.  Presentation topics have included beekeeping, biting and stinging insects of Georgia, and animal camouflage. For the last three years, he has volunteered at Bleckley County Elementary School Science Night, and for the Museum of Aviation as a judge for the STARBASE Robins FIRST Lego League Super Regional Qualifiers.

Dr. Christine Rigsby, associate professor of biology, Excellence in Full-Time Teaching.  This year’s winner is a versatile, self-reflecting, and endlessly improving instructor. Several of her students describe her best: “Absolutely love her and this class. This is the most challenging course I've ever taken, but she makes it as manageable as possible. She is enthusiastic, loves the subject matter, and cares about her students. She doesn't just GIVE us good grades, she challenges us to LEARN and EARN good grades.” Another student said, “Well to start off, she is AWESOME. I wish someone would try to name a more dedicated professor than her; it is impossible. Time after time she is always willing to go above and beyond to help students in and out of the classroom. The field trips we attended this semester were true eye–openers as to the possibilities post–graduation and even pursuing a career as a histotech.”

Jeannie Ruggerio, Warner Robins Campus Success Center coordinator, Excellence in Part-Time Teaching. This year’s winner is a true treasure to MGA. She is not only one of the outstanding part-time instructors, teaching political science, she also serves as a full-time staff member, assisting students with tutoring and other academic needs on the Warner Robins Campus. She described rewards of teaching as “seeing students’ motivation and eagerness to establish a foundation and progress thoughtfully while learning; and seeing students challenging themselves to participate in their communities.”

Dr. Andrew Manis, professor of history, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award. This award recognizes a staff or faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity at the university and/or in the community. This year’s winner and the first to receive this award is an outstanding professor, historian, and author who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity throughout his life, both inside the classroom and outside of it. He is the author of several books including A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth,  Macon Black and White: An Unutterable Separation in the American Century, and the forthcoming Eavesdropping on the Most Segregated Hour: A City’s Clergy Reflect on Racial Reconciliation.  In the classroom, he has developed courses that address issues of diversity. In a recent interview with WMAZ, Manis said one of his responsibilities to students is to challenge them “to think about things that they don’t want to think about.  If you tell the story of America and don’t deal with slavery, don’t deal with Jim Crow, don’t deal with lynching, you can tell a nice story, a figment of many people’s imagination, but it’s not the real history of America.”

Carla Higgs, Department of Nursing admissions coordinator, Service Excellence. This year’s winner exudes the core values of MGA. She represents greatness and everything that is inspiring about the University. She does not receive the recognition she deserves and is humbly content without it. She is extremely conscientious in making sure customers get the guidance they need to fulfill their needs.  An example of her dedication, above and beyond the scope of her duties is assisting a student with finding housing in Macon outside of dorm living.

Phillip Lux, application developer II, Unsung Hero. His efforts help Middle Georgia State University to be successful, he is committed with a strong work ethic, always willing to lend a hand, extremely positive, and the list goes on. He strives to input requests quickly in his department and across campus. Although, the technology in his role is always changing, he demonstrates the MGA core values of Adaptability and Learning regularly.

Dawn Snyder, payroll specialist, Champion Award. This award is for a staff member who has exemplified MGA's core values of Stewardship, Engagement, Adaptability, and Learning. This year’s recipient instills MGA values in each area of her work, and she has such a positive attitude that it is a pleasure for other staff members to interact with her. She is a model for other staff members in the MGA core value of learning.