Nikita Harris Named CSU Educator of the Year

Editor's Note: This story was updated April 23, 2009, including a more complete list of honorees

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Assistant Professor of Communication Nikita Harris is Columbus State University’s Educator of the Year for 2008-2009. She received the honor during the April 17 Scholastic Honors Convocation, an annual event recognizing the university’s top faculty and students.

Other high honors included the Faculty Service Award to Professor of Business Administration Tom Loughman, the Faculty Research and Scholarship Award to Associate Professor of Management Kirk Heriot and the Faculty Cup — the top student honor — to Alex Acton.

Nikita HarrisHarris, right, who joined CSU in 2004 with a doctorate in organizational communication from Howard University, is known campuswide as the professor for students “to see” for guidance into an internship program, graduate or law school, or for career-related advice. Recently, she helped junior political science major Lillian Stephens secure a congressional Black Caucus internship for this summer in Washington.

The Washington area also is where Harris coordinates a CSU-student fall tour of graduate and law schools at the University of Maryland and Howard, Catholic, George Washington and Bowie State universities.

She regularly presents communication research at conferences of the Georgia Communication Association and National Communication Association where she earned a Top Ten Best in Show Award among 300 entries in 2006 for “Analyzing Contemporary Online Speeches” — a collaborative presentation with then-CSU colleague Retha Martin.

Harris also coordinated CSU’s first campuswide public speaking contest and involved CSU students in developing a training video which she recently used in conducting training workshops for the American Postal Workers Union conference in Atlanta.

Harris is active off campus, as a speaker for the Girls, Inc. Scholarship Luncheon and for local schools, including Spencer High School as a graduation speaker. Additionally, she conducts a community-based, college preparation workshop, “Harvard or Howard?” which she recently presented to a National Sorority for Phi Delta Kappa gathering in Oklahoma City.

“I have spent much of my life on a university campus, said Harris, who attended high school on the campus of Texas Wesleyan University in her Fort Worth, Texas hometown. As a high school freshman, I felt a unique connection to the campus environment and I knew higher education would be a part of my future.”

Before joining CSU, she spent several years as an organizational trainer and consultant in Washington, where she trained employees in more than 30 different federal and state agencies. She also worked as a management analyst for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, prompting her dissertation on the organizational socialization of women scientists and engineers within the federal government.

As the faculty service honoree, Loughman recently received the 2008 Turner College of Business Service Award and has served the university in several capacities including as faculty marshal, on the CSU President’s Search Committee and on committees for graduate programs and university publications. His extended history of CSU service includes a key role in the university’s most recent reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as chair of the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan Advisory Committee.

Heriot joined CSU in 2006 and holds the Ray and Evelyn Crowley Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship. He is the founding editor of the Southern Journal of Entrepreneurship and has published 12 papers since joining CSU, earning multiple awards including a John Templeton Prize in 2008 for a piece he co-authored in the Journal of Private Enterprise.

Acton, a communication major, has earned Kilgore and Servant Leadership scholarships and thrived in a CSU Cunningham Center internship through which he conducted extensive research to assist the center in developing new evaluation tools for its programs. He also is an Honors Study Abroad scholar and has served as Student Government Association president, president of Lambda Pi Eta and as a reading tutor in a community program for at-risk kids.

The university’s annual Quality Enhancement Plan Writing Awards went to associate professors of English Susan Hrach and Nick Norwood.

Convocation proceedings also recognized retired professors with faculty emerita status conferred on music faculty Patricio Cobos, Ed Riley, Manuel Diaz and Betty Anne Diaz, and former College of Education Dean Thomas Harrison.

Additional, top student honors include the Academic Recognition Award to David Owens, who also shared the Phi Kappa Phi Senior Award with his twin brother, Mark Owens. Bradley Nelson and Wesley Brown both earned the student Quality Enhancement Plan Writing Award.

Additional awards

Honors Program – Honor Cords: Alex Acton, Meredith Gilbert, Kori Jackson, Laveda Joseph, Joshua Kearney, April Lee, Kristin McDonald, Jack Musick, David Owens, Mark Owens, Emily Spradley, Kindall Scarborough , Kristin Taylor, Michael Whitten

Department awards

College of Arts and Letters
Art: Nica Mendoza
Art Graduate: Eric Todd
Communication: Laveda Joseph
Criminal Justice: Emily Tomberlin
English Literature: Shannon Williamson
English Professional Writing: Grace Florez
Spanish: Sara Cummins
French: Christy Harris
History: Amanda Rodwell
Music: David Owens
Music - Presser Scholar: Andrew Hudson
Political Science: James Matthews
Political Science - Mion Scholar: Susan Logan
Public Administration: Courtney Hamrick
Theatre Arts Award: Victoria Ames
Theatre Arts Education Award: Barrett Scroggs
Theatre Arts Design/Technical: Katie Lincoln
Theatre Arts Performance: Kori Jackson

Turner College of Business
Accounting: Tina Kuhlman
Management Information Systems: Lauren Kokoles
Finance: Amanda Campbell
Management: Alfred Barber
Marketing: Robert A. Dow
General Business: Danielle Richards
Master of Business Administration: Kenneth Cabatingan

College of Education
Early Childhood Education Undergraduate: Monica Medlin
Early Childhood Education Graduate: Jana Austin
English Education Graduate: Raymond Rankin
Mathematics Education Undergraduate: Kierra Cornwell
Mathematics Education Graduate: Michael V. Lynch
Middle Grades Education Undergraduate: Jilene Tomlinson
Middle Grades Education Graduate: Dell King
Science Education Undergraduate: Jaime Gonzalex
Science Education Graduate: Telynn Stewart
Social Science Education Undergraduate: Jennifer Austin
Social Science Education Graduate: Sean Jackson
Special Education Undergraduate: Angela Daugherty
Special Education Graduate: Jennifer Mulvany
Instructional Technology: Tammy Kleiber
School Library Media: Darlene Sanders
Health & Physical Education Undergraduate: Bradley Partain
Health & Physical Education Graduate: Tara Romito
Exercise Science: Cortney Norris
School Counseling, M.Ed.: Yolanda Thompson
Community Counseling, M.S.: Chris Ross
Educational Leadership, M.Ed.: Joanne Gauthier
Educational Leadership, Ed.S.: Angela McIntosh

College of Science
Health Science: Candice Osu
Environmental Science: Melinda Stahl
General Chemistry: Patrick Russell
Chemistry: Jane Skalski
Geology: Ross Tucker
Pratt & Whitney: Jonathan Storm
Physics: James Stephens
Computer Science Systems: Benjamin Whatley
Applied Computer Science Undergraduate: Karen Pynenburg
Applied Computer Science Graduate: Rathy Mohan
Psychology: Cheryl Farrington
Sociology: Tristen White
Mathematics: Andrew Wilson