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Local professors honored by State Council of Higher Education

by Elizabeth Liverman | Feb 22, 2016 - February 17, 2016
Amy Trent

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia honored two local college professors this week for superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service with a plaque and $5,000.

Each year, SCHEV highlights college-level professors from across the state and this year, Lynchburg College professor of international relations and political science Sabita Manian and Sweet Briar College professor of mathematical sciences Jim Kirkwood were among the 13 honorees given Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Kirkwood is the second professor from his department to be honored with the award in the last three years.

All 13 winners were recognized during a ceremony Tuesday attended by Gov. Terry McAuliffe at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond where they received an engraved plaque and $5,000. This year’s recipients were selected from a pool of 92 nominees.

Manian has taught at LC since 2001, where she has received two of the college’s top faculty awards, the Shirley E. Rosser Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Thomas C. Allen Award for Excellence in Academic Advising. She has taught subjects relating to global politics and foreign policy and has given academic presentations in more than seven countries.

Her research interests include global sex trafficking, gender politics and international policy considerations in Asia, the Middle East and ethnography of Indo-Caribbeans in St. Lucia.

Lynchburg College President Ken Garren nominated Manian for the award.

“In my nearly 54 years as professor, academic dean and president, I must say in summation that Dr. Sabita Manian is one of the most brilliant, accomplished, and inspirational individuals I have ever met,” he said in a news release from the college.

Manian also trains the students who represent LC in the Model United Nations policymaking simulation conference every year and recently led the effort to create a new Liberal Arts Studies major, an interdisciplinary program designed for students who want to integrate courses from several other programs in their college experience.

Kirkwood, known as a prolific writer of textbooks and for his quiet leadership, has taught at Sweet Briar for more than 30 years.

In a news release from Sweet Briar College, President Phil Stone said Kirkwood was one of the first community members to step forward to make sure the college would operate normally this fall following the June settlement to keep it open. Stone said one question he heard repeatedly from students debating their return was whether Kirkwood would be teaching.

In her letter supporting Kirkwood’s nomination for the award, longtime colleague Pam DeWeese, a SBC professor of Spanish now serving as interim dean and vice president for academic affairs, said, “His patience and quiet sense of humor have won over generations of Sweet Briar students who entered believing that they were not ‘math people,’ but who graduated with majors or minors in mathematics.”

In acknowledging the award, Kirkwood gave a nod to the college, his department and colleagues.

“It’s just a tremendous honor,” he said. “It was a shock and extremely flattering but almost more important to me is the recognition for the college that we deserve.

“Faculty in the math department have won it twice in the last three years and that’s unbelievable for a place this size.”

Since 1987, 354 faculty members — including the 2016 recipients — have received this honor. Virginia’s all-institutions-eligible faculty recognition program is unique among the states. SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating and planning body for postsecondary education.

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