Outstanding Faculty Earn Appreciation Awards
Five University of Arkansas – Fort Smith faculty members were honored for their services to the institution during the annual Faculty Appreciation Day, held on April 8, 2022.
UAFS Provost Dr. Georgia Hale presented four of the faculty awards to Gray Langston, recipient of the Luella M. Krehbiel Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award; Dr. Alexandra Zacharella, recipient of the Excellence to the University, to the Profession, and the Community Service Award; Dr. Ragupathy Kannan, recipient of the Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Award; and Dr. Janine Chitty, recipient of the Lucille Speakman Master Teacher Award. Each recipient received accolades at the event, a commemorative plaque, and $2,500. The UAFS Student Government Association also presented the Lori Norin Faculty Appreciation Award to Dr. Randall Stone at the event.
Gray Langston, adjunct professor in the UAFS World Languages department, earned the Luella M. Krehbiel Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award.
Langston, who retired from public school teaching in 2011, has since devoted much of the past decade to serving as an adjunct professor of Spanish in the College of Arts & Sciences, tutoring in the Academic Success Center, and teaching English as a Second Language.
In her free time, she gives Zoom English lessons to orphans in Guatemala. She has undertaken numerous trips to Esquipulas, Guatemala, where she served as a teacher and liaison to a private school as part of the G.E.M. (Girls’ Education Matters) program initiated by the nuns of St. Scholastica in Fort Smith.
Her nominators noted that in her classes, Langston consistently demonstrates knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter, as well as a wholehearted commitment to her students. Her earnest support for departmental retention and recruiting efforts, along with her dedication to student success, makes her a great asset to the World Languages Department and to our university.
Dr. Alexandra Zacharella, Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Low Brass in the Department of Music, earned the Excellence to the University, to the Profession, and to the Community Service Award.
Dr. Zacharella is a Bach Trombone Artist and a Signature Mouthpiece Artist for Warburton. She has served as past president, secretary, and treasurer of the Arkansas Chapter of College Band Directors National Association, has served as the South-Central CMS treasurer, and currently serves as the President-Elect of The College Music Society-South Central Chapter. She also serves on the International Initiatives Committee for the College Music Society.
Dr. Zacharella’s students are active in research and have participated in the UAFS undergraduate research symposium and presented at the South-Central CMS Conference. She serves as an advisor and an honorary brother for the UAFS band service fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi, Lambda Kappa chapter.
Each summer, Zacharella serves regional music students as the Director and Conductor of the Summer Band and Jazz Band Camp program at UAFS, having shown thousands of students a pathway to collegiate music study. She also maintains a private low brass studio, and her students have found great success in Region, All-State, and All-American Bands, Jazz Bands, and Orchestras.
Dr. Ragupathy Kannan, Professor of Biology, earned the Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Award. He has a sustained record of outstanding accomplishments in research, scholarship, and professional mentorship, having earned the esteemed award for the second time since 2011.
Dr. Kannan’s writings have appeared in prestigious periodicals such as Science and National Geographic. Many of his publications have been coauthored by UAFS students whom he has guided and empowered toward fruitful careers in science and teaching. Kannan is a prolific member of the Arkansas and international bird-watching community.
For nearly three decades, he has been a model for research excellence on the UAFS campus and around the world. Since he last won this award, he has published more than 20 papers in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and won two more coveted international Fulbright awards to conduct research in India and Sri Lanka, bringing his Fulbright total to three. As a trustee for the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust, Kannan reviews grant proposals for ornithology research projects. He has raised more than $15,000 to help shore up their endowment and benefit future generations of ornithology students.
Dr. Janine Chitty, Professor of English, earned the Lucille Speakman Master Teacher Award.
Dr. Chitty has dedicated more than 25 years to teaching and mentoring UAFS students. She stays connected to area high schools through community service, supervision of teacher candidate interns, and teaching English Composition concurrent courses for high school students.
Dr. Chitty’s understanding of best practices in preparing teacher candidates and emerging challenges in education, along with her dedication and commitment to excellence, has been instrumental in the success of the English with Teacher Licensure program.
Her nominators noted that the impeccable design in her courses and her strong work ethic and expertise make her an exemplary professor and colleague.
Dr. Randall Stone, assistant professor of accounting, earned the Lori Norin Faculty Appreciation Award. He was selected by the Student Government Association for the honor, chosen from a pool of nominations sent in by students across the institution. Austin Miller, SGA treasurer, presented the award, saying, “There is no shortage of outstanding faculty and staff members at this institution, but today I am pleased to present this award to an outstanding faculty member. One who engages students in learning both inside and outside of the classroom. One whose commitment to their profession, to their community, and to the university provides students with a first-hand example of what it means to be a lion.”
Miller said he jumped at the opportunity to present the award because of his connection with Dr. Stone’s educational style. “I have had the privilege to work alongside this individual on several different projects, and though I have only known them for about a year, I can assure you all that they have changed my life for the better. I would consider this professor to be a personal mentor to myself as they have gone above and beyond their job requirements to assist me. Whether they know it or not, it is unlikely that I would be where I am today without their guidance,” Miller said.
“The support I have received from this professor is something that I will never forget to the extent that I would consider this person to be a lifelong friend. Presenting this award today is without a doubt one of the proudest moments I’ve had here at UAFS.”