Cameron University faculty members honored

Cameron University faculty members Dr. Michael Husak, Dr. Abbas Johari and Dr. Justin Walton were honored tonight with awards recognizing their contributions to Cameron’s academic community. Husak received the Bhattacharya Endowed Lectureship for Excellence in Research Award, Johari received the Award for Excellence and Innovation in University Service, and Walton received the Award for Excellence and Innovation in Scholarship and Artistic Endeavor in the Education Enterprise.

Photo of award recipients

“Cameron’s faculty is made up of dedicated educators who are committed to providing a top quality education,” says Dr. John McArthur, Provost. “We are pleased to recognize Dr. Husak, Dr. Johari and Dr. Walton for their outstanding commitment and contributions to student learning, Cameron University, and to the region we serve.”

Members of the Cameron faculty nominated their colleagues for the awards. To be eligible, the award recipient must have been employed full-time at Cameron University for at least three years in a position with teaching as the primary responsibility.

Bhattacharya Endowed Lectureship for Excellence in Research Award

The Bhattacharya Endowed Lectureship for Excellence in Research Award was established in January 2008 by Cameron alumnus Sanjit Bhattacharya to advance the quality of research and creative and scholarship activity at Cameron University and in Southwest Oklahoma. Husak is being honored with this award in recognition of the “strong and prolific undergraduate research program” that he has developed, according to the nominator. Husak’s approach to research “is built around a collaborative learning model in which the students as well as mentors make new discoveries as collaborative learners.” The nomination also included input from several of his students. One of them wrote, “Dr. Husak has been the most influential person during my undergrad education at Cameron University. Since meeting him, I have been doing research every chance I get. He has shown me that I have the ability to pursue my true calling in biology. I went from my freshman year being unsure about what my goals were to my senior year knowing 100 percent that I’m on the right path in my life.” The student also relates that his “passion for research and my college experience could never have been possible without Dr. Husak being a part of my life.”

“Research is an essential part of my position at Cameron University,” Husak says. “It allows me to maintain expertise in my field of specialization, increases my personal experience that allows me to continue to teach lecture and lab topics beyond that of textbooks, and allows me to provide Cameron students the opportunity to observe and contribute to concepts and current topics in biology well beyond the classroom while learning to use modern, interdisciplinary experimental methods and techniques. Specifically, I have made a conscious effort to pursue research that students can participate in to a degree that allows them to learn skills for careers beyond Cameron and develop guided research projects of their own.”

A member of the Cameron faculty since 2003, Husak teaches biology, ecology, mammalogy, ornithology and zoology. He is the recipient of the 2011 Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence and was voted Professor of the Year by students of Biological Sciences in 2006. He is also the collection manager and curator of vertebrates for the Cameron University Museum of Zoology. Husak holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Angelo State University. He earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Mississippi State University.

Award for Excellence and Innovation in University Service

The Award for Excellence and Innovation in University Service is recognition for outstanding and sustained contributions in the area of university service to the Cameron University community, the region of Southwest Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma, and/or the field in which the recipient is active. Dr. Abbas Johari, Professor in the Department of Computing and Technology, is the 2013 recipient. The nominator wrote of Johari’s service to his department, the university, profession and community “in a very significant way, spending hundreds of hours in this pursuit.” The nomination went on to say that, “He has established an incredible service-related record that deserves recognition,” reporting that since 2001, Johari has “conducted more than 200 service-learning capstone projects for the City of Lawton and Fort Sill communities.” In addition, the nominator stated, “His service on many Cameron University committees indicates his commitment to Cameron.” With regard to service in the field of information technology, “He has demonstrated tremendous leadership quality. In his words, he conducts research on teaching so that he can use the results in the classroom and in the service-learning context where possibilities exist. He believes his work is about transferring academic ideas into action.”

“I value service-learning as a scholarly activity, yet I have not allowed these academic service activities to weaken my main responsibility - teaching,” Johari says. “I strive to provide professional expertise beyond the classroom, as I believe enormous connections exist between the classroom environment, the campus community and the wider regional community.”

Johari joined the Cameron faculty in 1991. He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Educational Technology) from Arizona State University, where he also earned a Master of Technology degree. He was the recipient of the 2011 Presidential Award from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. He is a member of the Faculty Advisory Council of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, a post to which he was appointed in 2011.

Award for Excellence and Innovation in Scholarship and Artistic Endeavor in the Education Enterprise

The Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Artistic Endeavor in the Educational Enterprise is recognition for the role of academic scholarship in the educational process by recognizing a Cameron faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in research, scholarly, or artistic activities that are fundamentally a collaborative effort with undergraduate students. This award honors a CU faculty member, not only for adding to the store of knowledge in their discipline, but also for doing so in a manner that engages CU undergraduate students in the scholarly process. Dr. Justin Walton, Associate Professor of Communication, is the 2013 recipient.  He was nominated by one of his colleagues in the Department of Communication, who said of him, “In my first semester here, I was surprised at his ability to engage students and make class exciting and lively. Students told me they got critical thinking skills from this professor, which I believe is the best gift from college. Looking at his approach to teaching in an awakening experience that has led me to develop a new perspective on teaching – a new way of seeing the once familiar.”

The nominator also singled out Walton’s research efforts by mentioning the numerous research papers that he has had published as well as the number of student research presentations he has mentored.

“One of the greatest sources of professional satisfaction comes from seeing our students do quality work,” Walton says. “For the past 12 years, I have sought ways of introducing our undergraduate communication students to the research culture of our field, trying to impress upon them the value, utility and real-world importance of both theoretic and applied inquiry. My instructional objectives are twofold: First, I believe that mentoring students in research helps them become smarter and wiser consumers of the communication research literature and social science research more generally; and second, by extending these opportunities, I genuinely hope that students are provided a pathway for better appreciating and possibly conducting research in their chosen professions.”

Walton has been a member of the Cameron faculty since 1999. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University, he earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Cameron and a Ph.D. in Communication Pedagogy, Instruction & Curriculum from the University of Oklahoma. Walton has presented the Top Faculty Paper at the Oklahoma Speech-Theatre-Communication Association (OSTCA) Conference for the past two years. He is also the past recipient of OSTCA’s Outstanding Young College Teacher Award and the Fred Tewell Outstanding College Communication Educator Award.

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April 16, 2013

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