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Peak Performance extraordinary educators' work puts them in the limelight

Six faculty members earned 2019 Eminent Faculty Awards presented by the UL Lafayette Foundation.

The annual awards are the highest recognition the University confers on faculty.

“They recognize outstanding teaching, innovative research, and community engagement through service learning. This year’s recipients embody the long tradition of excellence these awards have come to represent,” said John Blohm, vice president for University Advancement and the Foundation’s CEO.

Dr. Daniel Gang and Dr. Jeffrey George are the Distinguished Professor Award honorees. Established in 1965, the award recognizes educators for their research, teaching effectiveness, and contributions to their professions and to campus life.

Gang is professor of civil engineering. George is associate professor of guitar studies.

The Dr. Ray P. Authement Excellence in Teaching Award, named for the University’s fifth president, recognizes faculty commitment to teaching and innovation. It was established in 1965.

This year’s recipients are Dr. Deedra Harrington, assistant professor of nursing; Brian Kelly, professor of visual arts; and Kari Smith, professor of architecture.

The Leadership in Service Award recipient is Jeffrey Lush, associate professor of graphic design. The award, first presented in 2016, acknowledges a faculty member who combines service learning with classroom instruction to forge skills and knowledge that students can apply to community leadership opportunities.

The Foundation selects honorees based on a faculty committee’s recommendations. Each recipient receives a $5,000 stipend.

Nearly 200 faculty members have received the awards since the mid-1960s.

Dr. Daniel Gang

Dr. Daniel Gang, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, is also director of the Center for Environmental Engineering and Protection.

He helped establish a program that combines research, community service, teaching and technology application in environmental engineering. It helps industry and community partners explore ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere.

The program generates research by faculty and students from many disciplines, including biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, education, geosciences, petroleum engineering and mechanical engineering.

Gang has been principal or co-principal investigator for over $9 million in grants.

He holds the Phillip J. Burguieres/BORSF Professorship in Engineering; SLEMCO/BORSF Endowed Professorship in Engineering II; and SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Professorship in Engineering.

Professor Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a professor and interim director of the School of Architecture and Design.

She is co-director of the Coastal Community Resilience Studio. The studio fosters transdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, faculty and students to address the complexities of restoration and preservation along the Louisiana coast.

It unites faculty and students from the School of Architecture and Design, the School of Geosciences, and the Sociology, Anthropology and Child and Family Studies departments.

Centers such as the University’s Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering and the UL Lafayette/NASA Lafayette Regional Application Center contribute research.

“In her student-led research and teaching, she continuously opens up conversations to engage as many voices and expertise as possible,” wrote Gordon Brooks, dean of the College of the Arts, in a letter nominating Smith for the Excellence in Teaching Award. Brooks said this dialogue allows students “to see the widest possible impact of design on society.”

Dr. Deedra Harrington

Dr. Deedra Harrington is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

An advanced nurse practitioner, she designed courses for the college’s new Graduate Certificate in Cardiovascular Nursing Program and is its primary faculty member.

Harrington also teaches students enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program.

She maintains a clinical practice and is “extremely knowledgeable regarding current medical and nursing practice and integrates this expertise into her teaching repertoire,” Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the college, wrote in a letter supporting Harrington’s award nomination.

Harrington holds the Adrian Vega Endowed Professorship (in Nursing) (BORSF).

Associate professor Jeffrey Lush

Jeffrey Lush is an associate professor of graphic design and co-coordinator for the graphic design concentration in the Department of Visual Arts.

In collaboration with the Acadiana Center for the Arts, he has led undergraduate students who have volunteered for marketing projects with non-profit organizations, such as Cité des Arts and the Creole Heritage Folklife Center.

His students have also created outdoor signage, newsletters and other graphic materials for the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on campus.

Lush’s research includes historical studies in modernist design practices during the Industrial Revolution, a period of technological, economic and cultural change that took place worldwide in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He also has examined the effects of mass media.

Professor Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly leads the printmaking program in the Department of Visual Arts.

A professor of visual arts, he is coordinator of Marais Press. He holds the Coca-Cola/BORSF Endowed Professorship in Art & Architecture.

Marais Press combines environmentally friendly, non-toxic printmaking techniques with traditional methods. It has attracted over 200 local and national guest printmakers.

“Through this space, he has connected professional printmakers and artists from around the country and the world with his students, giving them professional, collaborative artmaking experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Gordon Brooks, dean of the College of the Arts.

Kelly’s prints have been featured in nearly 500 national and international exhibitions.

Dr. Jeffrey George

Dr. Jeffrey George is an associate professor of guitar studies in the School of Music and Performing Arts.

He is a prolific scholar whose research has earned international recognition.

George maintains an active performing career in addition to his teaching; he has performed in rock, country, bluegrass, reggae and blues bands, and gives solo classical guitar concerts.

UL Lafayette alums taught by George have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways. One of his former students has toured with Grammy Award-winning musician Terrence Simien, for example. Another developed a classical guitar program for visually-impaired musicians.

He holds the Lionel Billeaud/Genevieve Gidiere/BORSF Professorship in Music, and joined the School of Music and Performing Arts faculty in 2001.

This article first appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of La Louisiane, The Magazine of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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