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Pleas Faculty Award winner says she’s ‘just doing her job’ [+VIDEO]

Generosity and accessibility are only two of the qualities that Dr. Linda M. Clark’s colleagues believe made her a worthy recipient of MTSU’s 2016 John Pleas Award.

The associate professor of mathematics in the Department of University Studies received the honor Feb. 25 in the Tom H. Jackson Building following a series of accolades from her fellow educators and former students.

“You work with your students and encourage them and provide that extra ‘whatever they need’ to be successful, not just in that class, but in MTSU as a whole,” said Dr. David Gotcher, interim dean of the University College.

The John Pleas Faculty Award was established in 1997 to honor Pleas, a professor emeritus of psychology and recipient of the 1999 Outstanding Teaching Award. It is presented each year to a minority faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service.

Nominees must have completed at least five years of service at MTSU and have a record of outstanding service. Each nominee must have three letters to support his or her nomination.

A video of the 2016 award ceremony is available below.

http://youtu.be/sOJ3upGU1oY

Dr. Marva Lucas, chair of the Department of University Studies, noted that Clark’s assertion that she is just “doing her job” is indicative of her modesty.

“I can remember when you were hired on full-time,” Lucas told the honoree at the ceremony. “As your friend, as your colleague and as your chair, I have seen you turn challenges into opportunities.”

“You are a person who is dedicated as you are proficient,” said Dr. Gloria Bonner, assistant to the president of MTSU, said to Clark. “You are also someone who is as knowledgeable as you are effective, and you are as wise as you are practical.”

In accepting her plaque, Clark thanked God, her family, her colleagues and her students, but she insisted that she really didn’t deserve the award.

Dr. Linda M. Clark, center, smiles after receiving the 2016 John Pleas Award from Drs. Gloria Bonner, left, assistant to the president, and Michaele Chappell, a professor of mathematical sciences and the 2015 Pleas Award recipient, at a Feb. 26 ceremony in MTSU’s Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU Photo by J. Intintoli)

Dr. Linda M. Clark, center, smiles after receiving the 2016 John Pleas Award from Drs. Gloria Bonner, left, assistant to the president, and Michaele Chappell, a professor of mathematical sciences and the 2015 Pleas Award recipient, at a Feb. 26 ceremony in MTSU’s Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU Photo by J. Intintoli)

“You could walk down the hall in SAG (Stark Agricultural Building) and over in Peck Hall, as well, knock on any door, and you will find people, professors, who are concerned with retention and student success,” she said.

An 18-year veteran of the faculty, Clark is a former Faculty Senate representative for her department and a co-organizer of two ACT mathematics preparation workshops funded by a public service grant.

Among her research accomplishments is a paper on the academic success of transfer students entering MTSU. Clark presented the paper at the fourth International Conference on Research in Access and Developmental Education in 2008 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Clark is noted for using innovative multimedia tools to motivate students to do their best work, both on-campus and in distance learning.

Previous winners of the Pleas Faculty Recognition Award since its inception are:

  • Dr. Bichaka Fayissa, economics professor, 1998.
  • Dr. Laura Jarmon, English professor, 1999.
  • Dr. Gloria Bonner, dean of the College of Education, 2000.
  • Dr. Sharon Shaw-McEwen, social work professor, 2001.
  • Dr. Alphonse Carter, engineering technology professor, 2002.
  • Dr. Bertha Clark, professor of communication disorders, 2003.
  • Dr. Anantha Babbili, 2004, then-dean of the College of Mass Communication.
  • Dr. Pat Patterson, professor of chemistry, 2005.
  • Dr. Rosemary Owens, dean of continuing studies and public service, 2006.
  • Dr. Connie Wade, chair of the Department of Elementary and Special Education, 2007.
  • Dr. Marva Lucas, chair of the Department of University Studies, 2008.
  • Dr. Adonijah Bakari, history professor, 2009.
  • Dr. Dwight Patterson, 2010, chemistry professor.
  • Dr. Raphael Bundage, 2011, music professor.
  • Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis, professor of community and public health, 2012.
  • Dr. Newtona “Tina” Johnson, professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, 2013.
  • Dr. Sekou Franklin, political science professor, 2014.
  • Dr. Michaele Chappell, professor of mathematics education and coordinator for the Masters of Science in Teaching program, 2015.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)