Cruz, Miller and Belk College Academic and Career Coaching team recognized for excellence

Categories: General News Tags: Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs recognized faculty and an academic unit for exemplary work in the areas of teaching, advising and civic engagement at the annual Provost’s Awards Reception held Monday, April 10.

Winners of this year’s Provost’s Awards are Carlos Cruz, associate professor of theater and program director of the Master of Fine Arts in community-centered practice; Ryan Miller, associate professor of educational leadership; and the Belk College of Business Academic and Career Coaching team.

“Teaching, advising and civic engagement are vital to UNC Charlotte’s mission to educate and prepare students for their chosen careers, while also addressing the needs and challenges of the Charlotte region,” said Provost Alicia L. Bertone. “The recipients of this year’s Provost’s Awards have done outstanding work in these three areas, and I am proud to call them colleagues.”

Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising

The Belk College of Business Academic and Career Coaching team is this year’s winner of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising. This award is given to an academic department, office or program in recognition of the collective responsibility of faculty and staff members for maintaining high-quality undergraduate academic advising.

The award is intended to recognize sustained efforts that assist students to achieve their educational and lifelong learning goals.

The Belk College Academic and Career Coaching team is made up of dedicated professionals, who work tirelessly to provide comprehensive and transformative support for more than 4,000 undergraduate students through advising and career guidance. Their coaching approach trades transactional styles of academic advising for one that empowers students to discover their strengths and ultimately use them in developing academic and career plans.

The team works with students from SOAR through graduation to explore academic and career goals and major and minor options, to create academic plans to complete degree and major requirements and to discover ways to enrich learning through academic support, study abroad options and other co-curricular activities.

During fall 2022 SOAR, they served approximately 700 students in weekly Zoom sessions and hosted 19 “meet the college” presentations for approximately 1,345 individuals. During that semester’s late registration push, the team’s ongoing practice of targeted outreach to students who were not registered was continued and utilized across campus. These efforts resulted in Belk College remaining at over 4,000 students and enrolling a record number of first-time college students.

The team also developed a series of online advising modules called the Modules for Academic Planning & Success as a part of the Freshman Group Advising program and Beyond the Business Basics was created specifically to support and establish a relationship with transfer students during their first semester at Charlotte.

Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement

Carlos Cruz, is this year’s recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement.

This annual award is given to a tenured faculty member whose teaching and/or research embodies the University’s commitment to civic involvement and whose work profoundly and systematically affects the relationship between UNC Charlotte and the larger community in a positive and meaningful way.

Beginning this year, each recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement will be named a senior fellow for faculty engagement in urbanCORE. This one-year appointment affords the fellow time and resources to design a project that addresses institutional barriers to engaged scholarship in the area of research, merit, curriculum or partnerships.

Cruz received a McColl Center for Art + Innovation Award for socially-engaged creative works in 2014, which supported the development of a community-powered contemporary circus company and performance called the Nouveau Sud project. This project grew out of Charlotte’s diversity of voices, experiences and communities that both respond to and help shape what we know as the New South.

The Nouveau Sud project had its debut production in April 2016, and it has been an ongoing initiative, receiving a $25,000 Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation and the prestigious Creation and Touring Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. Nouveau Sud continues as a “Circus for the Community and a Community of Circus” through its status as an independent not-for-profit community group and will begin a national tour cycle this summer.

Cruz’s interests in community engagement and action research are also illustrated through his collaborative, multi-disciplinary arts education project called MAX (Mobile Arts + Culture Experience).

MAX represented an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to scholarship and the arts, which was recognized by the Knight Foundation and a $350,000 grant to the College of Arts + Architecture.

As a primary investigator, Cruz was involved in bringing together the Department of Theatre, the City.Building.Lab, which is the School of Architecture’s public outreach center, and the Charlotte Action Research Project, with MAX nurturing a deeper connection within and among our region’s diverse neighborhoods and communities through the use of a deployable mobile arts and engagement space. Read more about Cruz’s work in “Circus for a Purpose.”

Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching

Ryan Miller is this year’s recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching. This annual award goes to a faculty member who has earned tenure within the last three years and who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching at the beginning of their academic career.

Miller has played a significant role in helping Charlotte’s Higher Education program increase enrollment, attract highly qualified students and secure external funding. He has taught a total of nine master’s and doctoral courses at Charlotte in multiple formats including face-to-face, hybrid and online synchronous and asynchronous formats. Six of the courses were new or completely redesigned.

Miller incorporates participatory techniques such as caucus groups, fish bowls and dyads into his classes, along with fieldwork, case studies, reflections and team-based activities to enhance learning. He sets high expectations for his students and as an instructor is vulnerable in the classroom, showing students that he continues to learn even in areas he has long studied. These techniques encourage students to take ownership of their learning process and to believe that their own experiential and academic knowledge is worth contributing in the classroom.

Miller is very committed to mentorship. He has mentored 12 master’s students and up to 15 doctoral students in any given year. He has written 13 book chapters and 35 articles, many of which are related to scholarship of pedagogy.

Photo: Provost Alicia Bertone, second left, with Cruz, Miller and Lesley Harris, assistant dean and director of academic and career coaching for the Belk College of Business.