Three from SU Earn 2024 USM Board of Regents’ Faculty Awards for Excellence

Three Salisbury University Faculty members standing outside

Salisbury, MD – A role model for civic engagement, a professor lauded for his creative and collaborative approach to teaching, and a mentor known for her long-term commitment to students and faculty — all from Salisbury University — are among the recipients of this year’s University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence.

Dr. Alexander Pope, associate professor of secondary and physical education, has been honored for Excellence in Public Service. Dr. Timothy Stock, professor of philosophy and chair of the Philosophy Department, received the award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Hong Yao, professor of economics, earned the accolade for Excellence in Mentoring.

“To have faculty honored in three out of the five award categories is truly an accomplishment that speaks not only to the commitment of the winners to the SU community, but to the well-roundedness of Salisbury’s faculty as a whole,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre. “Once again, the USM Board of Regents has confirmed what we’ve long known: Our faculty are among Maryland’s best.”

Dr. Alexander Pope – Excellence in Public Service

Pope was nominated for his accomplishments in public education and expanding and enhancing SU’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE), for which he has served as director for the past nine years.

He has formed a close relationship with Parkside High School in Salisbury, where he serves as campus liaison and member of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Board. That role focuses on supporting the Teacher Academy of Maryland program.

Through his conversations with school administration, Pope arranged to supervise a first-year history education student to complete Work Study hours at Parkside. The student began in a government classroom where one of Pope’s senior students was a long-term substitute. The partnership fulfilled White House’s National Partnership for Student Success Higher Education Coalition challenge for universities to dedicate federal Work Study funds to support K-12 education.

Beyond teacher preparation, Pope is a key figure in civic education across the state, including collaborations with middle school teachers Julia Berg and Sarah Mason writing curriculum about contentious topics and organizing a collective of Holocaust educators through the Maryland Holocaust Educators Network.

Pope’s efforts at PACE have included the transition of the Center for Civic Reflection from Valparaiso University, IN, to SU in 2019 via a USM Wilson H. Elkins Professorship Award, providing unique opportunities such as a yearlong seminar series examining local issues within the broader framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, also facilitated by Pope.

“When Dr. Pope was asked to lead PACE in 2015, it was his goal to bring greater enthusiasm for civic engagement on campus and beyond. In the years that followed, PACE has certainly exceeded those expectations,” said Lepre, making special note of the organization’s 2023 Excellence in Innovation “We the People” Award from the American Democracy Project, recognizing PACE as a potential model for other institutions.

In addition, he helmed SU’s successful efforts for SU to be recognized with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Elective Community Engagement Classification.

“Dr. Pope is a highly esteemed colleague who is valued across all areas of his work,” said Dr. Laurie Henry, dean of SU’s Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies. “As an academic dean, I have the privilege of working with many exceptional faculty members. Yet, there are those who rise above the others in a way in which they are admired and should be commended. Dr. Pope is one of these individuals.”

Dr. Timothy Stock – Excellence in Teaching

Stock was nominated not only for his work in the classroom, but for his support of programs that connect SU philosophy students and faculty with members of the greater community.

These efforts include a program that, for years, has facilitated philosophical book discussions between students and people incarcerated at nearby Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) and a regional Ethics Bowl program also recently expanded to include ECI. As chair, he also has supported the work of Dr. Cristina Cammarano, who created the Young Thinkers Club at Wicomico Public Libraries, as well as a Philosophy in Schools program, each of which helps engage younger children in age-appropriate philosophical discussions.

Additional efforts in which Stock has been involved include the Re-Envisioning Ethics Access and Community Humanities (REACH) program, supported by $181,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through REACH, he and Dr. Michèle Schlehofer, professor of psychology, are working to establish a Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility on campus, with a goal of connecting SU students and faculty with community groups to tackle problems and projects with significant ethical dimensions.

Beyond his work with students, faculty and community members, Stock also is a nationally known scholar of European philosophy, with a record of peer-reviewed scholarship that most recently includes two articles currently under review and a book project in that field; a recent co-authored article on ethics pedagogy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and a second on community ethics as a practice area for philosophers; and a graphic novel in the process of being illustrated, with interest in publication expressed from a major academic press.

“During his years of teaching at Salisbury University, Dr. Stock has demonstrated time and again his commitment to serving his students in every regard,” said Lepre. “Through creative courses that combine philosophy with graphic novels, to chairing the Department of Philosophy, the lens in which he approaches education and teaching is powerful and recognized by many.”

“Tim Stock both champions and masters many of the initiatives that contribute to SU’s overall excellence as a public-facing and public-serving regional comprehensive university,” said Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of SU’s Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “At the heart of his many contributions lies a profound, and profoundly creative, commitment to student learning and success.”

Dr. Hong Yao – Excellence in Mentoring

Yao was nominated for her proactive approach to student success, reaching out to each of her students early during their time in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business and encouraging them as they move toward their degrees. She serves as a resource for many who apply for professional positions and for fellowships in top graduate programs.

In the classroom, Yao focuses on career preparedness, incorporating industry guest speakers and working to connect students to jobs or graduate programs. This often results in Perdue School students receiving offers from top firms, winning national and international fellowships, and gaining admission to prestigious graduate programs, sometimes with academic scholarships.

Nominators noted that she provides this guidance not only to her own student advisees, but to others throughout the SU economics program and beyond.

“Dr. Yao is an active mentor and supporter of everyone at Salisbury University,” said Lepre. “While she does a fantastic job engaging with students in SU’s Perdue School of Business, she also has a praiseworthy history of supporting other faculty. … In particular, she has been a remarkable advocate for international faculty, encouraging them and providing thoughtful guidance to those who need it most.”

“Dr. Yao’s impact on the student experience and on developing career-ready, focused and engaged professionals is evident,” said Dr. Christy Weer, dean of the Perdue School. “She believes deeply in the importance of aligning students’ knowledge and skills with their passions and life goals. Her commitment to SU, the Perdue School of Business and her students is unparalleled.”

Awards will be presented during the USM Board of Regents’ next meeting, in April.

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