One of the things that distinguishes our College at Clemson is diversity. Both in terms of our demographic diversity and the wide array of disciplines we cover. The concern, of course, when an organization does many things is whether we can do many things well.

I am overjoyed and proud to say that if the University’s 2022 Spring Awards are any indication, CAAH is excelling in every area: research, teaching and service.

Let’s start with the top student award at Clemson: the Norris Medal, that goes to the “best all-around” graduating senior at Clemson. This year, that honor has gone to Natalie Claypool, a Language and International Health major in our Department of Languages. More impressive perhaps than all of her accomplishments as an undergraduate—which are staggering—are her plans after graduation. Natalie is set to work as a house parent at Casa de Esperanza in Houston, a home for abused, neglected and HIV-positive children. To see a student with a world of career options at her feet choose to work with the most vulnerable among us is an inspiration.

I am also very proud of one of our religious studies majors, Hannah Roebuck, one of the two winners of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which is given to students who demonstrate, “genuine and unselfish service to others.” Hannah distinguished herself within CAAH by winning two of our highest honors not only for service but also for academic excellence. Like Natalie, her focus is on the success of the next generation with future plans to become a public school teacher.

In addition to the student awards, our faculty have distinguished themselves among their peers at the Spring Awards. Space prevents me from going into details but the winners are:

  • Provost Outstanding Junior Teacher Award – Assistant Professor Elizabeth Jemison, Department of Philosophy and Religion
  • Provost Outstanding Collaborative Teaching Award – Associate Professor Ulrike Heine, Associate Professor David Franco and Senior Lecturer George Schafer, School of Architecture
  • Provost Outstanding Inclusive Teaching Practices Award – Associate Professor Amalia Leifeste, School of Architecture
  • Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry – Associate Professor Angela Naimou, Department of English
  • Alumni Master Teacher Award – Senior Lecturer Allen Swords, Department of English
  • Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievements in Research – Professor Orville Vernon Burton, Department of History
CAAH faculty and students were strongly represented at the 2022 Spring Awards Ceremony.

Of the 28 faculty, staff and students honored at the University spring awards, 10 of them represented our small college. As proud as I am of these winners, there are just a few more people I want to mention. As Dean, it is my honor to hand out a few faculty and staff awards of my own, which I did at our college meeting earlier this month. Those winners are:

  • Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching – Assistant Professor Brookes Brown, Department of Philosophy and Religion
  • Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research – Associate Professor Dina Battisto, School of Architecture
  • Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service – Associate Professor Ben White, Department of Philosophy and Religion
  • Dean’s Outstanding Senior Lecturer Award – Senior Lecturer John Pursley, Department of English
  • Dean’s Outstanding Lecturer Award – Lecturer Luke Chwala, Department of English
  • Dean’s Team Player Award – Michelle Marchese, Administrative Coordinator for Landscape Architecture
  • Dean’s Award for Excellence in Outstanding Customer Service – Sara Costley, Administrative Assistant for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication
  • Dean’s Innovation Award – Keri Crist-Wagner, Student Services Program Director for the Department of English

In addition to the Dean’s awards, we also celebrated our new Lightsey Fellows recipient, Maziyar Faridi in the Department of English, and our winner of the John B. & Thelma A. Gentry Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities, Sarah Cooper, also in the Department of English. Lastly, we were pleased to announce our new Creativity Professorship recipients: Lisa Odom in the Department of Performing Arts and Mashal Saif in the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

So to circle back to the initial question of whether our College does many things well, I have to note that as I scan through these winners, I see that there is excellence in every corner of our College, and it is no exaggeration to say we have the best students and the best faculty and the most dedicated staff. I am so proud of CAAH.

Go Tigers!

Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

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