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Outstanding faculty and students to receive honors at University of Missouri System awards ceremony

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Jun 26, 2012

The University of Missouri Board of Curators and UM System President Timothy M. Wolfe will honor 10 faculty members and one student with awards June 26.  These awards include the President’s Awards—the highest honor bestowed by the University of Missouri System for excellence in the university’s four mission areas of teaching, research, service and economic development; the Thomas Jefferson Award; the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award; and the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award. 

“These recipients represent our finest faculty and students, and the University of Missouri System is what it is because of their hard work and dedication,” Wolfe said. “Every day, each one of them makes a difference in the lives of Missouri’s citizens and truly advances our state— and nation.” 

The recipients and their honors include:

President’s Award for Innovative Teaching
Elizabeth A. Baker, Ed.D., MU
This award recognizes a faculty member who is an outstanding teacher and employs innovative teaching methods to achieve success in student learning.

Baker is an associate professor of literacy studies in MU’s College of Education. She joined the university in 1996 after obtaining her doctorate and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University. Her deep understanding of today’s changing literacy landscape and the importance of educating the nation’s youth to read and write with technology have led to a long history of excellence.  Baker has produced more than 200 research-based journal articles, book chapters, presentations, technical reports, podcasts and websites that focus on teaching, learning and technology.

President’s Award for Economic Development
Thomas G. Johnson, Ph.D., MU

This award recognizes faculty for distinguished activity in meeting the University of Missouri's goal of serving as an economic engine for the state and its citizens.


Johnson is a professor of agricultural economics in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at MU. He has engaged with communities at regional, national and international levels by providing new information and techniques, innovative solutions and training. Johnson is a leader in the field of rural economic development. As director of MU’s Community Policy Analysis Center, he works to apply area-specific solutions to community development goals.

President’s Award for Leadership
Joy D. Swallow, M.Arch., UMKC
This award is presented to a faculty member with a commitment to excellence and integrity; an ability to motivate, build and sustain a high level of morale and productivity among faculty or staff; find practical solutions to complex problems; and effectively build teams, manage projects and produce positive results.

Swallow is a professor of architecture at UMKC where she founded the Architectural Studies program—a collaboration between UMKC and Kansas State University—that is praised as a model for cooperation between universities. Throughout her tenure, she has helped foster a belief in students, faculty and the community that much is expected and possible. Swallow created an undergraduate degree program in Urban Planning + Design that has played an important role in providing much-needed planning and design assistance to underserved communities.

President’s Award for Sustained Excellence
Grace Y. Sun, Ph.D., MU
This award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates and sustains a record of distinguished scholarship, research or creativity for 15 or more years.

Sun is a professor of biochemistry and an internationally renowned scientist in neuroscience with a research focus on brain lipids and signaling pathways in relation to aging and neurodegenerative diseases. She is particularly adept at using new technologies—as evidenced by her work using low energy lasers in researching pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease.  Her intellectual curiosity has resulted in several innovative investigations.

President’s Award for Early Career Excellence
Anthony N. Caruso, Ph.D., UMKC
This award recognizes faculty who exhibit exceptional promise in scholarship, research or creativity as substantiated by significant accomplishments within their first seven years with the university.

Caruso is an associate professor of physics who started his tenure track appointment in the fall of 2007 and was promoted with tenure last year. He already has authored more than 50 internationally recognized peer-reviewed journal articles; been issued two patents and has four pending patents; completed three article reviews; written two book chapters and awarded nearly $7 million in grant funding as principle investigator. Caruso has distinguished himself in teaching, service and research and is an enthusiastic educator who infuses his curriculum with excitement and is active within the department.

President’s Award for Service
John D. David, Ph.D., MU
This award recognizes outstanding contributions in professional expertise and personal service in promoting the missions and values of the university.

David is an associate professor of biological sciences and has played a leadership role in creative problem solving at the university for 22 years by serving on a range of committees, advisory boards and task forces.  Because of his wealth of experience and depth of knowledge, David was tapped to serve as the chair of Strategic Planning on the Chancellor’s Resource Advisory Council, which helped lead the University of Missouri to their One Mizzou: 2020 Vision for Excellence strategic plan.  He also is involved with the e-Learning Task Force and Freshmen Interest Groups.

President’s Award for Community Engagement
Clyde Ruffin, M.F.A., MU
This award recognizes faculty who are involved in exemplary community engagement activities such as volunteerism, service-learning, educational programming and outreach.

Ruffin is a professor and chair of the Department of Theatre at MU whose productions have been recognized as some of the best in the country. Early in his tenure, Ruffin established the internationally known World Theatre Workshop.  Formerly the Black Theatre Workshop, Ruffin’s productions and actor roles explore issues of race and identity that need discussion. In the community, Ruffin engages in social activism on a daily basis by serving as minister at the Second Baptist Church of Columbia.

President’s Award for Cross-Cultural Engagement
Rangira Béa Gallimore, Ph.D., MU
This award is presented to a faculty member with demonstrated success in promoting cross-cultural activities or understanding through classroom or student service activities.

Gallimore is a professor in the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures and specializes in African Francophone Studies. She has focused her research and teaching on genocide testimonial writing since the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and has published several articles about gender, genocide and women, and conflict.  With this expertise, Gallimore created new courses about testimonial writings and developed a summer study abroad program in Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies.

Thomas Jefferson Award
H. Carl Gerhardt, Ph.D., MU
This award honors a member of the university community who best exemplifies the principles and ideals of Thomas Jefferson and who rises above excellence and demonstrates clear distinction in service to the university and humankind.

Gerhardt, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences at MU, is a highly successful scientist, writer, naturalist and mentor responsible for significant scientific advancements in evolutionary biology.  In addition to his scientific contributions, Gerhardt is enthusiastic in his approach to mentoring—of the 18 graduate students and 11 postdoctoral fellows he has trained, 15 hold faculty positions at universities around the world.

Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Kristin A. Kenney, J.D., UMKC
This award honors students at one of the University of Missouri System’s four campuses who have shown entrepreneurial talent.

Kenney recently completed her law degree with an emphasis in business and entrepreneurial law and was admitted to the Bloch School’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Scholars Program, which is sponsored by UMKC’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and designed to help students create viable businesses. While in law school, Kenney was able to take her idea, RE:Cite, a software program that enables efficient legal research, to market with a potential of $500 million. 

C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award
Carl F. Calkins, Ph.D., UMKC

This award recognizes a faculty member who personifies the creativity, vision and leadership exhibited by the late Dr. C. Brice Ratchford, who served as president of the University of Missouri System and dean of Cooperative Extension.

Calkins is a psychology professor and serves as director of the UMKC Institute for Human Development, a research and training center he established more than 30 years ago. He is most known for his support and interest in working with underserved audiences and has assisted organizations serving diverse groups—including Hispanics, the developmentally disabled and teen moms.  As director of the institute, Calkins actively builds partnerships that improve the lives of people and the communities in which they live.