Award of Excellence Recipients

Six faculty members are the recipients of the 2017-18 Georgia Southern University Awards for Excellence. They were honored for outstanding contributions in the classroom, in the community and for research/creative scholarly activity.

the six award winners standing next to each other wearing their medals
TEACHER SCHOLARS: Award winners pose with their medals during Fall Convocation 2017. Posing from left to right are Michele McCibony, Cordelia Zinskie, Wendy Chambers, Christine Whitlock, Chad Posick and Hani Samawi.

The winners of the Award for Excellence in Contributions to Instruction are:

College of Education Professor Wendy Chambers, Ph.D., and College of Science and Mathematics Professor Christine Whitlock, Ph.D.  The award is not for the best teacher or the most popular teacher, but recognizes a professor’s contribution to the teaching-learning process at the institutional level. The award is administered through the Centers for Teaching and Technology.

Chambers is a professor of developmental psychology for the College of Education. She has taught more than 200 courses and roughly 6,000 students at Georgia Southern, from first-year to doctoral level. Her courses are known for being reading and writing intensive. Chambers has also been involved with course and curriculum development at all levels of the institution.

Whitlock is a professor and assistant chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She has involved at least 40 undergraduates in her research. With their help, a number of projects in organic synthesis and chemical education have been undertaken at Georgia Southern.

The winners of the Award for Excellence in Service are:

College of Science and Mathematics Professor Michele McGibony, Ph.D., and College of Education Professor Cordelia Zinskie, Ed.D. The award honors and rewards faculty who use their academic disciplines to provide non-compensated assistance to the community, region and the academic arena. This award is administered through the Provost’s Office.

McGibony is a 1993 Georgia Southern alumna and teaches biochemistry. She maintains an active undergraduate research group, and her students regularly present their work at local, regional and national scientific meetings. She is also the adviser to the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society of Georgia Southern University, which has earned outstanding chapter awards for the past two years.

Zinskie has been a professor at Georgia Southern for 24 years. She served as chair of the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading for seven years (2006-13) before returning to the faculty. Currently, she is the program coordinator for the new master’s in evaluation, assessment, research and learning degree program. Zinskie is also recognized for service beyond the institution in her roles as editor of the National Youth-At-Risk Journal and president of the Georgia Educational Research Association.

The Excellence in Research/Creative Scholarly Activity Award winners are:

Chad Posick, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Hani Samawi, Ph.D., a professor of biostatistics in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health. Administered through the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Programs, this award goes to professors who excel in research while teaching full time.

Posick teaches criminal behavior, victimology, graduate statistics and the inside-out prison exchange program. His research is focused on violence prevention.

“I study the victimization of children and adolescents and how to best prevent harm,” he said. “I also work on studying community violence in Savannah. Part of this includes an initiative funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) called Smart Prosecution.”

He wants his research to help real people facing the devastating effects of violence.

As for winning the Research/Creative Scholarly Activity Excellence Award, Posick calls it a tremendous honor.

“It means a lot to me because I know how productive and hardworking my friends and colleagues are all around the University,” he said. “It feels great to be a small part of all the research going on in this University.

Samawi has been with the College of Public Health since 2006. Early in his career, he realized his primary purpose was to promote health and social justice, to eliminate health disparities within communities and to increase access to services and decisive life-changing knowledge.

He focuses on solving statistical and biostatistics problems in the areas of data analysis, medical diagnostics, statistical modeling, mediation analysis and simulation and Monte Carlo methods, among other areas.

Samawi called the Research/Creative Scholarly Activity Excellence Award the “crowning achievement” of his work in the College of Public Health.

“Receiving this award has left me with a bit of an inexplicable feeling of contentment. To be honored and respected by my colleagues and superiors, and a source of pride to my family, has resonated with a feeling of achievement that goes well beyond the award.”

All six professors were honored during Convocation in August 2017.