news-category: Awards

President’s 2021 Early Career Award Recognizes College of Education Assistant Professor

students walking in front of Craig Hall

Dr. Mitch Porter Honored for Exceptional Productivity in Scholarship, Creative Discovery and Instruction

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Dr. Mitch Porter, assistant professor in the Gardner-Webb University College of Education, has been recognized for his exceptional productivity in scholarship, creative discovery, and instruction. He is the recipient of the President’s Early Career Award for 2021.

Presented to qualified full-time assistant professors, the Early Career Award also honors Porter’s outstanding performance in professional development and excellence in community service. The annual award includes an additional $1,000 in professional development funds for Porter to use during the 2021-22 academic year.

Mitch Porter
Dr. Mitch Porter

“Gardner-Webb’s future rests in no small part on the quality and character of our junior faculty,” noted GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. “That future is decidedly bright when we see the energy and effort exemplified by Dr. Mitch Porter. Mitch is dedicated to the success of our students. He is committed to going above and beyond the ordinary to improve the educational experience at Gardner-Webb. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, he is seen as a good colleague who supports our institutional mission. We’re pleased and proud to recognize him.”

Porter began teaching at Gardner-Webb in 2019 and also serves as the Quality Assurance and Assessment coordinator for the College of Education. He has taught Research Design and Methodology in Curriculum and Instruction, Research Module in Educational Leadership, Educational Psychology, and has been a guest lecturer for Dr. James Morgan’s Positive Psychology course.

Morgan describes Porter as enthusiastic, thoughtful and interested in helping students succeed. “When Dr. Porter was a visiting instructor in my Positive Psychology course, he asked astute questions of me in an effort to develop a lecture and discussion that would complement what I was doing in the course and add to the students’ learning,” Morgan related. “I observed and participated in his class presentations and discussions and was impressed with how he effectively explained complex concepts and facilitated active participation.”

In addition to his teaching duties, Porter advises doctoral candidates and provides methodological and statistical assistance for their dissertations. He serves as a dissertation coach for the doctoral programs. In his role as Quality Assurance and Assessment Coordinator, he assists the College of Education with course assessments and evaluations. He also prepares and reviews documentation for the education program’s licensure and accreditation.

Dr. Prince Bull, Dean of the College of Education, said Porter represents the School’s vision and mission. “Dr. Porter’s teaching activities and passion for quantitative analyses have transformed the College of Education dissertation methodologies to stronger mixed-methods research and quantitative studies,” Bull informed. “In research and scholarly work, Dr. Porter’s portfolio demonstrates excellence in research. Since his employment at Gardner-Webb, Dr. Porter has published two articles as the first author with two other articles as the second or third author.”

It’s an honor to receive the President’s Early Career Award. My accomplishments would not have been possible if it weren’t for the amazing mentoring I’ve received in the College of Education.

Dr. Mitch Porter

In addition, Porter has taken on the role of managing editor for JOEL (Journal of Organizational and Educational Leadership). He organizes incoming papers by providing initial evaluations and assigning reviewers to submitted papers. To date, he has finalized three issues of JOEL on Gardner-Webb’s Digital Commons.

“It’s an honor to receive the President’s Early Career Award,” Porter shared. “I am thankful that Gardner-Webb gave me the opportunity to prove myself as a junior faculty member when I was hired, especially since I was fresh out of graduate school at the time. To live in pursuit of excellence is a never-ending journey, and I will continue to improve my craft as a teacher as well as a scholar. My accomplishments would not have been possible if it weren’t for the amazing mentoring I’ve received in the College of Education.”

Porter received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Foreign Languages from the University of Idaho (Moscow) in 2008. He earned a Master of Arts in Linguistics from California State University Long Beach in 2010. After receiving his master’s degree, he taught in China at the Beijing Language and Culture University. While in China, he was also curriculum developer and coordinator for Zhongjie Education International and an assessment developer and editor for the National Education Examination Authority.

In 2012, he became a course director for the English as a Second Language Department at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla. In 2014, he was hired as an instructor in the English Language Institute at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and was a graduate research assistant there from 2017 to 2019, when he completed his Ph.D. in Educational Research and Assessment.

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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