news-category: Faculty

Gardner-Webb Faculty Members Recognized with Awards

A photo of the steeple on Dover Chapel with a GWU banner in the foreground

2021 Faculty Assembly Also Included Introduction of First Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Members of the Gardner-Webb University Faculty were recognized with awards recently at the 2021 Faculty Assembly. Hosted by the Faculty Development of Instruction and Improvement Committee (FDIIC), the program also introduced the first dean of the GWU College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Shawn Holt, along with six new faculty for the 2021-2022 year.

Dr. Ben Leslie introduced Holt, who served from 2013-2021 as professor of biology and chair of the Department of Natural Science and Mathematics at Richard Bland College of William & Mary University in Petersburg, Va. Prior to that, he served as associate professor in the Department of Biology and Department of Chemistry at Virginia State University, and in the Departments of Pathology, Human Genetics, Pharmacology & Toxicology and as a member of Massey Cancer Center at the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He holds a PhD in genetics from Texas A&M and a biology degree from Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

The New Faculty Members are:

  • Jessica Van Cleave, Ph.D., associate professor, College of Education
  • Ellen Campos Sousa, Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Business
  • LaDonna Clark, assistant professor, principal faculty in the College of Health Sciences
  • Wilson Hawkins, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, Department of Natural Sciences
  • Norma Mott, MSN, BSN, instructor in Hunt School of Nursing
  • Michelle Moser, MA, visiting instructor, Department of Communication Studies

Leslie made the faculty award presentations, which are chosen each year by the FDIIC. Recipients are selected based upon criteria that the committee has developed and which they apply to nominations received from the faculty. These awards are not based on the student opinion of instruction, nor on student voting, and they are not based upon administrative evaluations of faculty. They are selected and voted upon by a committee of peers. Dr. Sydney Brown, professor of education, and dean of the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies presented the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member Award. Dr. Elizabeth Pack, dean of Distance and Adult Education presented the Outstanding Full-time and Adjunct DCP Professor awards.

Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award—Dr. Kathy Williams, associate professor, Hunt School of Nursing

Before joining Gardner-Webb as a full-time faculty member in 2011, Williams worked for over 35 years at Broughton Hospital in acute psychiatric nursing. Her nominating colleague described Williams as an exceptional educator who shares a deep connection with not only her colleagues, but her students. The nominator also said the Williams strives to connect to students on a personal level and often maintains strong relationships with students after they have graduated. Her experience as a psychiatric nurse has prepared her to truly care for the mind, body, and spirit of those she serves. Williams has a special chair in her office that many faculty and students visit to hear words of wisdom and encouragement.   

Outstanding Full-Time DCP Professor—Angie Smith, assistant professor, Godbold College of Business

Students commented that lectures were fun, the class was well organized, the Zoom sessions were appreciated, her timing for assignments worked well for those with busy lives, and that she was just awesome. In particular, students indicated that she created an environment that made learning easy.

Outstanding DCP Professor, Adjunct Award—Andrew Bradshaw

Bradshaw is dedicated and passionate about his work and connecting with students. He is consistent in his ability to give timely feedback, support students who may need assistance, and communicate with students and teammates throughout the semester. He is an integral part of what makes the Human Service program and its students successful.

Faculty Service Award—Dr. Dale Lamb, assistant professor of education and coordinator of the Masters of Executive Leadership Studies, College of Education

The Faculty Service Award recognizes excellence in service to the University or to a school or a department by a full-time faculty member. Lamb’s portfolio is indicative of a faculty member who serves at all levels of the University, including regular committee service, search committees, and volunteering for special projects. He is an active member of the Bulldog Club and regular attendee at student athletic events. He is an entrepreneur who seeks out and develops opportunities for program growth for the College of Education. And, last, but by no means least, he has taken on the role of Santa Claus serving church and community organizations for many years.

The Scholarship Award—Dr. Aihua Zhang, assistant professor of history, Department of Social Sciences

The Scholarship award recognizes excellence in research and/or a scholarly contribution to a field by a full-time faculty member. Zhang has published works that can be found both nationally and internationally in peer-reviewed publications. She has an impressive record of presenting papers at regional, national and international conferences. One of her most significant contributions is collaboration with other scholars to create a public database on women and Social Movements since 1820.

The Mentoring and Academic Advising Award—Dr. Yvonne Smith, assistant professor, Hunt School of Nursing

The Mentoring and Academic Advising Award recognizes excellence in mentoring, advising, out-of-class support, encouragement, and collaboration on student research projects by a full-time faculty member. Smith goes above and beyond the normal expectations for mentoring.  Many of her students regard her as family.  She is kind, understanding of life’s demands and makes herself available to her students in whatever way she can. She has helped and continues to help lead, guide, and facilitate productive and positive learning experiences, all the while providing constructive feedback. One of her students reports that it is because of her support and mentoring that she is now completing a doctoral program here at Gardner-Webb. 

Mitch Porter
Dr. Mitch Porter

The Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Rising Star Award—Dr. Mitch Porter, assistant professor, College of Education

The Caudill Rising Star Award is given to a full-time faculty member employed five years or less at Gardner-Webb. Eligible faculty demonstrate excellence, or promise of excellence, in scholarship, teaching, and service. Porter is described by the committee as “a talented, creative, student-centered, passionate, productive, academically astute, innovative, and service-oriented educator.” In the area of teaching, he consistently performs at the “More Than Expected” level with high Student Feedback scores and positive comments. He has been ranked in the top 15 highest faculty for Student Feedback Surveys for graduate programs across the University. In the area of research and scholarly work, he has published several articles. Finally, Porter serves at all levels of the University with a commitment to its mission and vision. Between his dedicated weekly service to the Bulldog Backpack program, serving as the managing editor for The Journal of Organizational and Educational Leadership (JOEL), and serving as the Quality Assurance and Assessment Coordinator of the College of Education, Porter demonstrates a sincere dedication to service to the University and community.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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