The Department of English and Chemistry Associate Professor Thomas Schmedake have earned awards of excellence from Provost Joan Lorden for their commitment to students and citizens of the region.
Lorden presented the Award for Excellence in Teaching to the English Department and the Faculty Award for Community Engagement to Schmedake. She also awarded the Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising to the College of Arts + Architecture advising team.
“The University has had a long-standing commitment to teaching excellence,” Lorden said. “As UNC Charlotte grows and diversifies, the way we educate and engage students also changes.” She recognized how the English Department has worked together to maintain high-quality teaching in this changing and increasingly diversified environment.
The teaching honor comes with a $5,000 award from the UNC Board of Governors and the Provost’s Office, as well as a plaque for departmental display.
The English Department earned accolades for its ability to increase its number of majors and for revamping its curriculum to provide students with more exposure to diverse combinations of sub-disciplinary areas, which include literature, and language and writing, combined with cutting-edge work in diversity studies, eco-studies and digital humanities.
The department also has increased its online and hybrid course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels to make its curriculum more accessible to students. This demonstrates that the department is making efforts to broaden its course delivery methods to cater to the demands of the 21st century student.
With the second honor presented, the Provost’s Faculty Award for Community Engagement honors a tenured faculty member whose teaching, research and service epitomize the University’s commitment to civic involvement.
Schmedake was cited for leading workshops to help K-12 science teachers develop effective ways of demonstrating chemical concepts and engaging students in hands-on activities to help them better understand chemistry. He engages K-12 science students through exciting demonstrations and by mentoring high school students in his research laboratory. As the UNC Charlotte coordinator for Project Seed, Schmedake oversees a program that provides paid internships for economically disadvantaged students to pursue laboratory research with college professors.
As a member of the planning committee for the UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo each year, Schmedake volunteers to promote, organize and execute this annual event that brings thousands of people onto campus. His popular chemistry demonstration is a highlight of the expo. He also works with Discovery Place on community engagement educational activities, such as NanoDiscovery Day.
The Provost’s Faculty Award for Community Engagement comes with a $2,500 prize for the recipient to use to expand his or her work. Starting fall 2018, this award will be the Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professorship in Community Engagement. Nominations for this award are being accepted through 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.
Images: Wade Bruton (English Department and Schmedake at the awards event) and Lynn Roberson (Schmedake at the Science and Technology Expo).