Le Fer Hall

SMWC Presents Faculty Awards

News | 05.10.2024

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) recently held its annual Pomeroy Faculty Awards presentation in the Woods Student Center in the Rooney Center on campus. Seven faculty members were recognized for their outstanding achievements. In welcoming faculty and staff to the presentation, Janet Clark, Ph.D., provost/executive vice president for academic affairs, shared, “Today is the day to honor faculty members who have chosen to ‘Aspire Higher’ each day either in the classroom with teaching, research and scholarly work within a professional discipline or serving others and our communities.”

Janet Clark, Ph.D., provost/executive vice president for academic affairs presenting awards

2024 Alumni Faculty and Leadership Award
Tricia Pierce, DHSc, ACSM-CEP, assistant professor of exercise science
The Alumni Faculty Leadership and Service Award is presented each year to an individual who has demonstrated leadership qualities to SMWC students. Since joining The Woods in 2021, Tricia Pierce has prioritized empowering her students. Additionally, Pierce continues to demonstrate a passion for service learning, hands-on experience and skills that she instills in SMWC students. In nominating her for the award, a student shared, “She allows us to learn in the classroom through trial and error to help better understand the material. This teaches each of us resilience and commitment to ourselves and our education. This is my first semester taking one of her courses, and I have already noticed improvements within myself that I can tell are because of her. She is very knowledgeable within her field, but she makes you feel like you are working with her as opposed to her being superior. She helps when needed, but she will also make you do things independently.”

Faculty Excellence in Assessment Award
Robert Vandermolen, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics
The Faculty Excellence in Assessment Award provides the opportunity to recognize a faculty member whose work in assessment stood out throughout the year. Robert Vandermolen joined SMWC in 2020 and has impacted everyone in The Woods community. “Our recipient is one whose impact on the College’s activities and culture is significant. However, their humble nature oftentimes prevents them from seeing just how important their efforts have been,” Clark shared. Examples of his contributions include volunteering to test run the new program review, leading a brown bag session to discuss the new program review template and process and making himself available to assist others on assessments with data analysis. In presenting the award to Vandermolen, Clark said, “Rob, we thank you for all that you have brought to the Assessment and Program Review committee and for your contributions to strengthening our culture of assessment at SMWC.”

(Back, L to R) Bob Jackson, Eric Hubbard, Ph.D., MLD, Robert Vandermolen, Ph.D. and Tricia Pierce, DHSc, ACSM-CEP (Front, L to R) Tonya Sawyer, Ph.D., Kimberly LaComba, Ph.D. and Meredith Williams, MBA

Sabbatical Award
Meredith Williams, MBA, assistant professor of business
Meredith Williams was awarded a Sabbatical for the Fall 2024 semester. Each year, one full-time faculty member with at least six years of service may be awarded a Sabbatical. The purpose of a sabbatical leave is to encourage academic and institutional revitalization by providing sustained time for research or creative activities; development of new courses or programs; acquisition of expanded and/or new qualifications and skills; contribution to academic unit plans to improve and/or refocus instructional, research or public service activities in accordance with the mission of the College. During the Fall 2024 semester, Williams plans to continue studying the growth mindset in marketing and leadership practices for small and medium-sized enterprising models.

PK Deputy Endowed Professorship
Kimberly LaComba, Ph.D., director of the Ph.D. in Global Leadership Program and associate professor of global leadership
Kimberly LaComba was awarded the first endowed professorship in the College’s history. The award was made possible by the family of Margaret “Peggy” Kelly Deputy ’64, also known to The Woods community as “PK.” The PK Deputy Endowed Professorship was established in 2022 to honor Deputy and to help develop and support exemplary faculty to teach and grow students into leaders for tomorrow. Through the professorship, LaComba plans to conduct a research study in collaboration with the 100 People Foundation to examine the experience of individuals connecting with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Clark shared, “Dr. LaComba’s scholarship and activities are a good role model for other faculty and students to emulate and being able to support these activities is critical to SMWC’s success through the cultivation and growth of a graduate research culture.” 

Brennan J. Randolph, MBA, interim president, speaks at the Pomeroy Faculty Awards presentation

Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarship
Tonya Sawyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of sports leadership
The Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award was inaugurated in 1990 by Mary Ellen Sweeney Haggerty ’42 and her husband Lawrence Haggerty, who endowed an award to recognize faculty achievement. Awards were presented for both scholarship and teaching. Tonya Sawyer was presented with the award for scholarship. She has been a professor at SMWC since 2023. “While she is new to The Woods as a faculty member, she hit the ground running and has demonstrated a continued commitment to scholarship that was begun at her prior institutions and related to her current field and teaching assignments in sport management,” Clark said. In addition to several journal articles published and a textbook in press, In presenting Sawyer the award, Clark said, “Tonya’s exemplary and continued ambitious work in her first year as a faculty member is recognized by her peers and demonstrated the spirit of this prestigious award. Her passion and commitment to advancing the field of sport management was evident.”

Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching
Eric Hubbard, Ph.D., MLD, director of master’s program in business and leadership and assistant professor of leadership
Eric Hubbard was presented with the award for teaching. He joined SMWC in 2019 and was hired full-time in 2022. He teaches ethics and leadership courses in both graduate and undergraduate programs. During his time, he has proven successful with face-to-face courses on the traditional campus and online formats for Woods Online and the master’s programs at SMWC. Most recently, he has been known for his creative programs and non-traditional teaching methods to engage online learners. Over the last two years, he has been working to create engaged communities in the online world by incorporating coloring sessions during synchronous class/office hour times. In remarks from the selection committee, Clark shared, “This faculty managed to find a way to deeply engage the students in a low-risk, non-threatening manner and the students’ quality of written reflections as their synchronous coloring session grew much stronger.”

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award
Bob Jackson, pre-college outreach director and professional advisor
Bob Jackson joined The Woods in 2022. In his nomination for the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award, it was shared, “His student evaluations consistently boast overwhelmingly positive feedback. His student-first approach, which involves greeting each student individually at the door every day, serves as a genuine inspiration. The way he seamlessly integrates phones and social media into the classroom, a move most instructors would dismiss, is truly commendable. Additionally, his drive, ability to connect topics to the real world and dedication to passing on this skill to our future teachers deserve all the accolades. Speaking of which, his humility shines through as he insists that the only award he needs is the opportunity to educate our students.”