Clayton State University has announced the finalists for the 2012 Alice Smith Faculty Award.
This year’s nominees from left to right are: from the College of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller and Dr. Erica Gannon; from the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, Dr. Muhammad Rahman; from the College of Health, Dr. Ximena Zornosa; and from the College of Business, Dr. Reza Kheirandish.
Clayton State’s Alice J. Smith Awards, for both faculty and staff, will be presented at Clayton State’s Faculty/Staff Awards Ceremony on Apr. 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Spivey Hall. An annual event since 1995, the Smith Awards are presented to the faculty member and staff member ranked most outstanding as determined by committees of their peers. The two, $1000 awards were established by local philanthropist Joseph Smith in honor of his wife, Alice. The winners of both categories will be announced at the Apr. 24 ceremony.
A resident of Morrow, Zeller is one of the employees of Clayton State that regularly walks to work. He is a native of Portland Ore. His current titles are director of Opera and Vocal Studies, coordinator of the Division of Music, and associate professor of Music. He received his doctoral of music, voice performance from University of Cincinnati. Zeller spends a great deal of time working with students, but carves out time for working with his church music department and keeping an active performance and writing schedule.
“The thing that is most meaningful to me about the Smith Award nomination is that it comes from one’s colleagues; it’s a sign that other accomplished professionals in the same field (visual and performing arts, in my case) recognize and want to acknowledge excellence in one’s work. Then to be chosen as a college finalist means that other expert pedagogues from fields other than one’s own also have reviewed one’s teaching and, despite the disciplinary differences, still can recognize and affirm that one’s pedagogy is effective and worthy of honor. hat certainly will put a smile on any teacher’s face,” he says.
Gannon, her husband of 14 years, and six-year-old son live in Newnan, Ga. Currently she is an associate professor of Psychology and has been a member of the psychology department at Clayton State for 10 years. She obtained her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology in 2002 from Auburn University.
Family and travel are in important part role in Gannon’s life. She and her family travel often and are huge fans of all things Disney, admitting that in just a few shorts years, since the birth of their son, they have been to Disney World three times and did two Disney cruises.
“Being nominated for the Smith Award means a great deal to me, as I see teaching as my number one priority. Therefore, being recognized for that is very gratifying, and I appreciate the fact that Clayton State has a mechanism for doing so—it emphasizes the importance that is placed on teaching at our university,” says Gannon.
Originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and living in Chicago for 15 years before moving to Atlanta in 2002, Rahman has been with Clayton State since 2007. He is an associate professor of Information Technology.
“I am humbled and honored to be nominated for the Alice Smith Award from the CIMS. This nomination reminds me that my primary responsibility is to provide quality education to my students to the best of my abilities,” he says.
He is married with one child and enjoys philately and traveling. He received his doctorate degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. Recently he was selected by the Institute of Higher Education of the University of Georgia to be one of the Governor’s Teaching Fellows (GTF) for the academic year 2011-2012.
Zornosa, a resident of Peachtree City, Ga., is married with a three year old golden retriever. Now an associate professor in the Department of Dental Hygiene, she began her career at Clayton State in 2005. During the spring of 1999, she was a part-time clinical instructor.
She received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and specialized certification in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at Emory University. She was an active duty Air Force Dental Officer for three years but also worked as a civilian dentist for the Army and the Navy.
She enjoys traveling and is currently taking a photography course with the New York the Institute of Photography.
“While I am obviously honored to have been nominated by my peers for this award as it reaffirms my direction and career path, I am even more pleased that the nomination draws attention to the Dental Hygiene program. While it is a small part of Clayton State University’s curriculum, it is a shining example of the University’s commitment to community service,” expresses Zornosa.
Kheirandish, born in Lahijan, Iran, a small city in northern Iran near Caspian Sea, currently resides in Jonesboro, Ga. He started at Clayton State as a visiting assistant professor of Economics in August 2006, and then in 2007 started his tenure track position as assistant professor of Economics. In August 2012 he will be promoted to associate professor of Economics. He obtained his doctorate in Economics from Virginia Tech in 2008.
He is married with a nine-year-old daughter, and they enjoy spending time in museums and other city attractions together. He also enjoys playing soccer and watching movies and sports.
In 2011, he was named Outstanding Advisor Award for the Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM). In 2011, he was program chair of the Southeastern Chapter of INFORMS (SEINFORMS) Conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He currently serves as the treasurer of the SEINFORMS.
“To me, being nominated is the ultimate honor a faculty can receive in the university level. Our faculty are great and to be selected and nominated among the best, make you feel really special,” says Kheirandish.