Faculty members receive 2021 Alpha Chi scholar awards for academic contributions, leadership

May 12, 2021 | Honors College |

Harding’s Arkansas Eta chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society recently presented the 2021 Alpha Chi Faculty Scholar awards to two faculty members, Dr. Usen Akpanudo and Dr. Ginger Blackstone.

Faculty from across campus selected the recipients based on their track records of scholarly contributions, their commitment to mentoring the next generation of scholars, and written endorsements from student members of Alpha Chi. Beyond just recognition, both faculty members will have the opportunity to share their scholarly perspective in chapel during the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, they were nominated to honorary membership in Alpha Chi and received $1,000 in professional development funding, which are new elements added to the award this year.

Dr. Usen Akpanudo and Dr. James Huff

Dr. James Huff, Honors College faculty fellow, said the award was reimagined this year to put more emphasis on the scholarly contributions of the awarded faculty members and encourage academic excellence among students and faculty.

“[Faculty] do need to have that scholarly excellence recognized as well, and that needs to be a part of our culture,” Huff said. “We're recognizing faculty who have a strong track record of significant and scholarly contributions, and they are mentoring students as they're developing this work.”

Akpanudo, associate professor and director of research initiatives in the College of Education, teaches graduate-level courses in research methods, quantitative data analysis, and cultural and sociological issues in education. He also teaches a research methods course for the McNair Scholars program, supervises doctoral dissertations, mentors student scholars through the Social Phenomena in Education Research Lab, and oversees the Journal of Graduate Education Research.

Akpanudo said this award will encourage greater scholarship by faculty members across campus.

“Awards are an essential way of encouraging scholarship and academic excellence among faculty,” Akpanudo said. “I believe other faculty will be motivated to press on with their scholarly pursuits. Dr. Blackstone and I received the honor this year; next year, it will be another set of distinguished faculty scholars.”

Dr. Ginger Blackstone and Dr. James Huff

Blackstone, associate professor of communication, has been nationally recognized for her scholarship and research at national and regional conferences for the Broadcast Education Association, Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, and other esteemed academic conferences. More recently, Blackstone and two of her former colleagues won the Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Broadcast Education Association for “Framing a Movement: Media Portrayals of the George Floyd Protests on Twitter,” which classified photos that accompanied tweets surrounding the George Floyd protests.

Blackstone said she thinks faculty scholarship can enhance students' learning experience within the classroom.

“I think in our own quest for sharing knowledge with students, it helps if we are bolstering our knowledge as well,” Blackstone said. “I think it's important to keep learning. There's always something new. There's always something that's to be discovered or figured out or questions to ask. I think anything we can do to encourage that is good.”

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