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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Dominion Energy Announce Recipients of 2019 Outstanding Faculty Awards

Feb 18, 2019, 09:58 AM
The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) and Dominion Energy are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Contact: Laura Osberger
(804) 786-2323 (office), (804) 387-5191 (mobile)

February 18, 2019

For immediate release

RICHMOND — The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) and Dominion Energy are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Since 1987, these awards have recognized faculty at Virginia’s institutions of higher learning who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service. 

Nominees are selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. In all, 86 nominations were submitted this year. This group was narrowed to a field of 27 finalists and then to the 13 recipients.

Recipients come from campuses large and small throughout the Commonwealth and from two- and four-year institutions, private and public. Their fields of expertise range from biology to software engineering. They have in common, however, the qualities honored by Virginia's Outstanding Faculty Awards: the highest level of scholarship, teaching, mentoring, public service and research. 

“The 13 educators that we recognize today play a pivotal role in the academic, social and economic success of the young people they teach and inspire,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These individuals exemplify what it means to be an outstanding faculty member, and we thank them for their service to students, to their institutions and to the Commonwealth.”

“We are fortunate that Virginia is home to one of the world’s great systems of higher education,” said Peter Blake, director of SCHEV. “The Outstanding Faculty Awards recognize faculty members who have dedicated their lives to research, teaching and mentorship. Their work improves the lives of everyone in the Commonwealth.”  

This marks the 15th year Dominion Energy has partnered with SCHEV to honor the Commonwealth’s outstanding faculty members.

“Each year, we are impressed by the dedication and accomplishments of Virginia’s top teachers,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “These educators provide great role models for the next generation and inspire us all to lead fuller, more creative and productive lives.” 

The 2019 Outstanding Faculty Awards ceremony will take place during a March 7 luncheon at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. 

Recipients are listed below in alphabetical order. Asterisks indicate Rising Star (early-career achievement) awards. Complete bios and photos are available on SCHEV's website

2019 Recipients: Outstanding Faculty Awards

Alfred Abuhamad, M.D., is professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he has served as a faculty member for 26 years. The recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Abuhamad is known internationally for his work in ultrasound, prenatal diagnosis, fetal echocardiography, global outreach and patient safety.

Valerie S. Banschbach is professor of environmental studies at Roanoke College, where she incorporates intercultural and service learning into her courses to help students gain empathy and motivation to care for the environment and people. Previous research earned her a Fulbright-Nehru senior scholar grant for research and teaching in India.

Jeffrey Bellin is professor of law at the College of William & Mary, where he has taught since 2012. Bellin’s legal scholarship is cited regularly in federal and state judicial opinions, scholarly commentary and the media. His columns have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today and CNN, among others.

Valentina P. Dimitrova-Grajzl is associate professor of economics at Virginia Military Institute, where she has spent the last eight years. Her teaching and research focus on the economics of institutions, economic development on American Indian reservations, post-socialist economies and politics, economic history, and law and economics. 

Charlotte Gill* is assistant professor of criminology, law and society, and deputy director of the Center for Evidence-based Crime Policy at George Mason University. Gill’s research focuses on the intersection among communities, places and crime prevention. She collaborates regularly with police departments, community groups and government agencies to support the development of evidence-based policy. Her work has been cited more than 1,200 times.

Helen I'Anson is professor of biology and research science at Washington and Lee University, having joined the faculty in 1995. During her tenure, she has taught 14 different courses, primarily in the areas of physiology and neuroscience. She is committed to making science accessible to all, including non-majors, through hands-on, inquiry-based experiences in the classroom and in the lab. 

Rowan Lockwood is professor of geology at the College of William & Mary, where she joined the faculty in 2001. An internationally recognized paleobiologist, she uses data from the fossil record to predict how modern marine animals will respond to future environmental changes, including global warming. In 2013, Princeton Review named her one of the top 300 professors in the United States. 

Agida Gabil Manizade is a professor in the mathematics and statistics department at Radford University, where she joined the faculty in 2009. Manizade engages students and helps them comprehend mathematics through hands-on activities, visual examples, use of technology and student immersion in original research. She is widely published in national and international academic outlets. 
Jill Elizabeth Mitchell is associate professor of accounting at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has taught courses since 2008. Currently, Mitchell is co-authoring a first edition textbook, College Accounting. She is a past president of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA). 

Sterling Nesbitt*, a fifth-year assistant professor in the department of geosciences at Virginia Tech, is a vertebrate paleontologist who uses his passion to inspire others to explore Earth’s history. His research lab of undergraduate and graduate students explores the origins of vertebrate diversity and shape, reptile evolution and how to use recent technologies to study long-extinct animals. 

Andrew Jefferson (Jeff) Offutt is professor of software engineering in the department of computer science at George Mason University, where he has worked for 26 years. His inventions are widely used to design and build software and to improve the reliability of control and safety-critical software. Offutt serves as editor of the leading journal in software testing and co-authored the leading worldwide textbook in that subject. 

Leo Piilonen is professor in the department of physics at Virginia Tech, where he has been a faculty member for 31 years. Piilonen is co-author of more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was a recipient of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Jonathan White is associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, where he has taught since 2009.  He is the author or editor of eight books, 100+ articles, essays and reviews. In 2019, he will publish College Life During the Civil War with his student, Daniel Glenn. He is presently writing a biography of a convicted slave trader named Appleton Oaksmith.


The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan:

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