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Outstanding Faculty Members Honored Impact
Fairmont State News

Outstanding Faculty Members Honored

May 02, 2012

Fairmont State University’s outstanding faculty members were honored during the Recognition of Faculty Achievement ceremony for their exemplary efforts throughout the 2011-2012 academic year.

“Fairmont State truly is set apart by this tremendous faculty. While we can tout an excellent faculty-to-student ratio, as compared to larger institutions, that statistic only becomes meaningful when we consider the quality of our faculty,” said FSU President Maria Rose.

The following faculty members were honored at the event: Dr. Sharon Smith, William A. Boram Award for Teaching Excellence; Dr. Denice Kirchoff, The Harold and Roselyn Williamson Straight Award; Dr. Jennifer Myers, Faculty Recognition; Dr. Rebecca Giorcelli, Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. Fellow Award; Dr. Suzanne Heagy, Regional Service and Engagement/Economic Development Grant; Dr. Francene Kirk, Dr. Douglas Powell, Dr. Michael Ryan, Instructional Improvement Grant; and Dr. J. Robert Baker, Excellence in Academic Advising Award. The event was sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Faculty Development Committee and the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc.

William A. Boram Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr. Sharon SmithThe Faculty Development Committee selected Dr. Sharon Smith as the winner of the William A. Boram Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement as demonstrated by her sustained, energetic and successful commitment to teaching. The award is sponsored by the Faculty Senate and given in honor of FSU’s many faculty members who have demonstrated unusual dedication and accomplishment in teaching. The award is named in honor of Dr. William A. Boram, the former Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of English.

Dr. Sharon Smith, Professor of Education, joined the faculty of Fairmont State University in 2004. A Fairmont State graduate with a Bachelor of Education degree in Elementary Education and a specialization in Early Childhood Education, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Special Education - Gifted and a Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from West Virginia University. She was a professor and Chair of the Education Department at West Virginia Wesleyan College prior to coming to Fairmont State. Smith has also taught and served as Director of Graduate Education at Salem International University. She has been a consultant with the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition, a teacher in the Marion County public school system and a teaching fellow for Fairmont State. Additionally, she has published numerous articles and books.

“Dr. Smith’s students go into the elementary classrooms very well prepared. All of her students know that they have to work hard in the FSU classroom, but that it will make them prepared when they begin teaching. All of the elementary teachers in Marion County and the surrounding counties know Dr. Smith. As the PDS liaison, when I am at White Hall it is rare that someone does not ask about her. This honor is well deserved and I congratulate Dr. Sharon Smith as this year’s Boram Award winner,” said FSU President Maria Rose, who presented Smith with her award.

The Harold and Roselyn Williamson Straight Award

The Harold and Roselyn Williamson Straight Award is intended to honor or encourage outstanding, innovative or otherwise distinctive teaching or scholarship by faculty at Fairmont State University. The Straights have endowed this award since 2003.

Dr. Denice KirchoffThis year’s recipient, Dr. Denice Kirchoff, is a Professor in the School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration. She has been teaching at FSU since 1998.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and her master’s degree in Nursing and Ed.D from West Virginia University. She is also a Certified Nurse Educator.

Kirchoff has served on various campus committees and is currently a member of the Faculty Senate and the presidential survey committee. She is actively involved in the mentoring of nurse educators and has developed and chaired the nurse faculty mentoring committee. She has incorporated her dissertation research to assist in the development of a mentoring program for adjunct and full-time nursing faculty. She has presented nationally at nursing conferences regarding this topic. She is also program evaluator for the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. In addition, Kirchoff was recently selected to be part of a team of test item writers for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. She is a member of various nursing organizations and maintains practice as a registered nurse at West Virginia University Hospital.

A second year Nursing student and the class representative, Travis Kennedy, nominated Kirchoff for the award and stated the following in the nomination letter: “Dr. Kirchoff rises far above what is expected of her as an instructor. Within the classroom she takes a one-on-one approach while utilizing various multimedia sources. She enriches the lectures with information from the text, personal research and experiences in the nursing field. As a student I feel very encouraged and supported not only in the classroom but outside of the classroom too. This is achieved by Dr. Kirchoff’s open door office policy. She is willing to individually guide students toward their full potential. Dr. Kirchoff continually involves students in learning by asking what changes could be made to improve the learning experience in its entirety. Dr. Kirchoff is a wonderful example that an individual truly never stops learning and that it is never too late to continue your education. She is an example of this because she recently continued her education by working to receive her doctorate of education degree. Dr. Kirchoff also had research published in the book: ‘The Nurse Educator: Perceived Competencies and Qualifications of Newly Hired Novice and Experienced Nurse Educators in Prelicensure registered Nurse Programs.’ I believe her additional hard work has already greatly enhanced her abilities as an educator.”

Faculty Recognition

Dr. Jennifer MyersDr. Jennifer Myers received the Faculty Recognition Award. She joined the Fairmont State faculty in 2009 after working as a psychologist and supervisor in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a forensic emphasis from West Virginia University following a pre-doctoral internship at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.

Her work experience involves conducting competency and criminal responsibility evaluations, risk assessments, providing crisis response and training staff and inmates. Myers has extensive experience in correctional psychology and working with challenging populations, such as sex offenders and those with severe personality disorders, in and out of prison. She currently serves the community through psychological evaluations and treatment of federal and state offenders.  Through her forensic work she has been fortunate enough to gain experience and training with hostage negotiations, profiling and the assessment and treatment of a variety of criminal offenders and victims.

In addition, Myers has over 10 years of experience in online and face-to-face instruction. She teaches and advises at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and in 2011 Myers was appointed director of the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. Recently, she has secured funding to put toward initiatives to innovate the graduate criminal justice program.  Myers is known for being accessible and responsive to students and utilizing creative learning strategies to foster student engagement. Her research interests include mental health issues in criminal justice professionals and innovative methods to rehabilitate offenders.

Outstanding Adjunct

Janet FloydDr. Barbara Fallon, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, introduced Janet Floyd, who received the Outstanding Adjunct award.

“It was my pleasure to review Janet Floyd’s teaching portfolio. Not only was it resplendent with ‘Best-Teaching Practices,’ but also it was accented with the ‘real world experiences that our students crave.’  Janet has been teaching for Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College for 14 years. She teaches for the School of Business and instructs on the ever popular courses: Business Math, Organizational Behavior, Intro to Business, Administrative Office Management, Principles of Management and Corporate Communications.” 

Fallon shared some of the comments from students about Floyd:

  •  “Mrs. Floyd is a teacher that makes students want to learn and be in class. Compared to others I’ve had, she is amazing! I learned so much I can use for the rest of my life.”
  • “Group projects were helpful in learning to work with others and deal with difficult people.” 
  • “This is the most practical class for meeting business needs I have had in my 3 1/2 years.  Mrs. Floyd is an excellent teacher.”

Excellence in Academic Advising

The Award for Excellence in Academic Advising is presented to honor the demonstrated excellence and commitment that academic advisors play in the education, personal development and success of their advisees. This year’s recipient is Dr. J. Robert Baker.    

Dr. J. Robert BakerBaker was educated by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word at St. Frances Cabrini School in Alexandria, La. He earned his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame. He began teaching at Fairmont State in August 1994. In January 2000, he began serving as Director of the Honors Program. Since July 2008, he has also served as Chair of the Department of Language and Literature. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Conference on Christianity and Literature and the secretary of the International Iris Murdoch Society.

The advising award is intended to recognize a faculty advisor who demonstrates knowledge of university policies and procedures, specific program requirements and programs and courses outside of his or her discipline. But, most importantly, the award honors an advisor who applies that knowledge to help students succeed.

Pamela Stephens, Coordinator of Academic Advising, presented the award and gave the following remarks about Baker:

 “An exemplary academic advisor positively affects students and contributes to their success, satisfaction, and persistence, but, just as important, also serves as a model for other advisors to emulate. Dr. Baker consistently demonstrates that academic advising is far from just selecting courses and registering for them. As his nomination letter points out, Dr. Baker is already engaged in the advising process even before these young men and women arrive on campus.  Not only does he examine the students’ high school records and assesses AP scores, but he takes time out of his summer break to contact students and to advise at New Student Orientations.

“Dr. Baker knows each of his advisees by name and takes the time to know each student in his program. He talks with students about their lives and goals and dedicates himself to helping them achieve their ultimate potential. Sometimes that support includes assisting them with overcoming academic or administrative obstacles or by celebrating their achievements or empathizing when things do not turn out as expected. 

“From their freshman to senior years, Dr. Baker never ceases to advise, counsel, and support students. Yet, he does it without complaint and with complete commitment. He is the true definition of the word mentor, and it is truly amazing how anyone has the time, energy, and patience to mentor and advise so many students.

“Additionally, Dr. Baker has taken his students on eye-opening explorations of different peoples, cultures and traditions by travelling domestically and internationally with his students. He seeks to create the quintessential liberal arts student, worldly in thought, yet grounded in self-knowledge.”

Foundation Fellow Award

In 1993, the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. initiated and funded a program for faculty development called the Fairmont State Foundation Fellow Program. The Faculty Development Committee recommends one person to be named a Foundation Fellow for the calendar year. The person so named receives a monetary stipend. The award is presented to a faculty member who designs activities, projects or programs that will contribute to their own professional development, benefit the students and align with the mission of the University.

Dr. Rebecca Giorcelli“This year’s recipient, Dr. Rebecca Giorcelli, has made outstanding contributions to Fairmont State University since joining the faculty in 2005. Her proposal outlines a plan to conduct groundwork for establishing a program dedicated to mobile computing research and to ultimately integrate mobile computing concepts into the Information Systems Management curriculum. The proposal includes renovating dedicated space in the Engineering and Technology Building to create a secure workspace for undergraduate research students while also providing a locked area for all research lab equipment,” said Dr. Suzanne Heagy, who presented the award.

Dr. Rebecca Giorcelli, Associate Professor of Information Systems Management and Coordinator of the Information Systems Management Program, is also a graduate faculty member. She earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University.

Prior to joining the faculty at Fairmont State in 2005, she gained more than 10 years of experience in research and development in the field. Positions held include Research Engineer within the Division of Safety Research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1995-2001) and Senior Scientist and Operations Branch Supervisor at the Institute for Scientific Research, Inc. (2001-2005).

Giorcelli was one of the first faculty members within the FSU School of Business to work through the Learning Technologies Center to design and teach online undergraduate courses. She was also instrumental in designing and delivering the Student Projects with Applications in Concept Engineering (SPACE) course, a multi-disciplinary course funded through NASA to expose students to science and technology concepts. As the Information Systems Management Program Coordinator, Giorcelli has taken the lead to review and revise the program curriculum to better align with industry needs and accreditation criteria. 

Giorcelli has taught a number of different Information Systems Management courses as well as, Project Management courses within the MBA program.

Giorcelli has been highly active in research since her arrival to FSU and has been awarded more than $525,000 in research grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Title II program. Giorcelli is a founding member of the Undergraduate Research Advisory Council (URAC) and has regularly participated as a research reviewer and a faculty mentor for the Undergraduate Research Program, the NASA Space Grant Scholars Program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program.

Two of her students are among the few from West Virginia to have been selected to present their research at the "Posters on Capitol Hill," a highly competitive undergraduate research event in Washington, D.C.

Giorcelli was presented with the FSU Faculty Recognition Award in 2010 and the Harold and Roselyn Williamson Straight Award in 2011.

She is married to Mark Giorcelli and they have two sons, Trey and Tyler.

Regional Service and Engagement/Economic Development Grant

Dr. Suzanne Heagy

Dr. Suzanne Heagy received the Regional Service and Engagement/Economic Development Grant. Heagy is an Assistant Professor of English and Fiction Editor of “Kestrel: A Journal of Literature and Art.” Her request is funding to further promote the journal “Kestrel” and its next two “Kestrel” “Celebrations” in fall 2012 and spring 2013. The funding will further develop community partnerships that cultivate the cultural well-being of the region and that expand and promote community engagement with the humanities.



Instructional Improvement Grants

Three faculty members received Instructional Improvement Grants.

Dr. Francene KirkDr. Francene Kirk of the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts received a grant to fund professional development training through the Meisner Certificate Training Program for teachers, actors and directors. In this two-week intensive course, Kirk will be practicing the Meisner technique and getting feedback on her performance from a master teacher. This training will benefit faculty, student, and future curriculum development.

An associate professor in the School of Fine Arts, Kirk teaches puppetry, children’s theatre, creative drama, educational theatre and human communication. Kirk is a former Boram Award recipient. She mentored the undergraduate research program that culminated in the production of “Remembering No. 9: Stories from the Farmington Mine Disaster.” Kirk and her students have presented sessions on devised theatre for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and the Southeastern Theatre Conference. She is currently working with students from her children’s theatre class and the staff at Prickett’s Fort to create a monologue performance based on the lives of the people buried in the Prickett Family Cemetery.


Dr. Douglas Powell

Dr. Douglas Powell and Dr. Michael Ryan received grant funding to travel to Pittsburgh to take the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification (CSCS) exam by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). This certification will improve and enhance their instructional capability to prepare their students for successfully completing the certification process. Furthermore, the experience of sitting for the exam will carry over to the professors’ undergraduate instruction and increase the notoriety of the Department of Health and Human Performance.



Promotion and/or Tenure, Sabbatical and Emeritus Status

The following FSU faculty members have been awarded promotion and/or tenure, sabbatical, and emeritus status:

Professor Senior Level

Dr. John O’Connor

  • Dr. J. Robert Baker: College of Liberal Arts, Department of Language and Literature, Honors Director
  • Dr. John O’Connor: School of Fine Arts, Department of Communication and Theater Arts






Associate Professor and Tenure
Dr. Erin HippolyteDr. Mahmood HossainJeffery IngmanLinda Turchin

  • Dr. Erin Hippolyte: College of Liberal Arts, Department of Language and Literature
  • Dr. Mahmood Hossain: College of Science and Technology, Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics
  • Jeffery Ingman: School of Fine Arts, Department of Communication and Theater Arts
  • Linda Turchin: School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration
  • James Vassil: College of Science and Technology, Department of Technology

Professor Emeritus

  • John Schooley: School of Fine Arts, Department of Music


  • Dr. Matthew Scanlon: College of Science and Technology, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Geoscience
Fairmont StateRebecca GiorcelliSuzanne HeagyDenice KirchoffSchool of Fine ArtsCollege of Science and TechnologyCollege of Liberal ArtsFrancene KirkSharon SmithJennifer MyersDouglas PowellMichael RyanJ. Robert BakerOffice of Academic AffairsCenter for Teaching ExcellencefacultySchool of Education, Health and Human PerformanceMaria Rose