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2015 Faculty Excellence Awards Winners

May 08, 2015

Dr. Bruce E. Bechtol Jr. of the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice, Dr. David P. Dewar of the Department of History and Dr. James W. Ward of the Department of Physics and Geosciences have been named the winners of Angelo State University’s 2015 President’s Awards for Faculty Excellence.

Bechtol received the award for Faculty Excellence in Research/Creative Endeavor.  Dewar’s award is for Faculty Excellence in Leadership/Service. Ward is the award winner for Faculty Excellence in Teaching. Each received $2,500 and Signature Presidential Recognition Awards. Bechtol and Ward will be ASU’s nominees for the Texas Tech University System Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Research and Excellence in Teaching. 

They, along with 12 other faculty nominees, were honored at the sixth annual Faculty Recognition Dinner sponsored Thursday, May 7, by the ASU Faculty Senate. 

Dr. Bruce Bechtol Jr.Dr. Bruce Bechtol Jr.An associate professor of political science, Bechtol has established himself nationally and internationally as an expert on North Korean military and political issues. Since joining the ASU faculty in 2010, he has published three books, “North Korea and Regional Security in the Kim Jong-un Era: A New International Security Dilemma” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), “The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era” (Potomac Books, 2013), and “Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security” (Potomac Books, 2010). He is also the author of “Red Rogue: The Persistent Challenge of North Korea” (2007) and editor of “Confronting Security Challenges on the Korean Peninsula” (2012). During the past five years, he has also published 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, given more than 45 presentations as an invited speaker, made more than 60 media appearances and been awarded more than $130,000 in research grants. He is regularly sought as an expert source by national and international media, and last fall he was awarded a travel grant by South Korea’s Institute of Unification Education to spend a month conducting research and delivering lectures throughout South Korea. He is currently conducting research for his next book, tentatively titled “North Korean Proliferation to Terrorist Groups and Rogue States: An International Security Dilemma.” 

Dr. David DewarDr. David DewarDewar, an associate professor of history, has been an outstanding advocate for the university as vice president and president of the Faculty Senate. He has chaired or co-chaired several critical search committees, and the various university committees on which he served as chair or member over the past two years are too numerous to list. He has also served as the Faculty Athletic Associate to more than one ASU intercollegiate sports team and received the Athletic Department’s 2010 Faculty Who Make a Difference Award. He has guided undergraduate student research and mentored in the New Faculty Mentoring Program. His passion for promoting and improving ASU is obvious in all aspects of his service to the university. Additionally, he has been active in the community as a volunteer tutor for the Adult Literacy Council of the Concho Valley, a member of the Downtown San Angelo Economic Restructuring Committee and a member of the Simply Texas Blues Festival Organizing Committee.

Dr. James WardDr. James WardWard, an assistant professor of geology, is a gifted teacher both in the classroom and out in the field collecting geological data. He is known for spending long hours, weekends and holiday breaks teaching and completing field work on geological trips with students. He has a special ability to advise students of all ages and backgrounds on everything from geology questions to career choices and all aspects of life. His teaching positively impacts over 100 introductory geology students from all majors, nearly 50 upper-level geology students and several undergraduate research students each semester. He also plays an integral role in designing and implementing new courses and developing the degree plan for the new Bachelor of Science degree in geoscience. He has developed or redesigned signature courses in geo-mapping and hydrology, and he team taught the first-ever ASU Field Camp for Field Geology. Additionally, he is the co-director of a rangeland reclamation research project funded by a grant from Shell Oil Company and is co-leader of the “Pathways for Inspiring, Educating and Recruiting West Texans in the Geosciences” project, which is in its fourth year and funded by the National Science Foundation. He has also planned and led hydrology projects for local public school teachers and led field trips for their students. The rapid growth of the ASU geosciences program is due, in large part, to his skill in recruiting students and then teaching and mentoring them. His students graduate from ASU, attend graduate schools and obtain rewarding positions in geoscience fields.                       

Other faculty nominees in the Excellence in Research/Creative Endeavor category were Kirk W. Braden, associate professor of animal science; Amy M. Williamson, associate professor of curriculum and instruction; and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, assistant professor of history. 

In the Excellence in Leadership/Service category, the other nominees were Lesley L. Casarez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; John E. Irish, professor of music; Heather L. Lehto, assistant professor of geosciences; Christine L. Purkiss, associate professor of teacher education; and Andrew J. Siefker, associate professor of mathematics. 

Other nominees in the Excellence in Teaching category were Charles C. Allen, associate professor of physics; Loree A. Branham, associate professor of animal science; B. Blake Hightower, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; and David A. Huckaby, associate professor of mathematics.