Watson, Washburn and Jason recognized for excellence

Categories: General News Tags: Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs recognized faculty for exemplary work in the areas of teaching, advising and civic engagement at the annual Provost’s Awards Reception held Monday, April 22.

Winners of this year’s Provost’s Awards are Sharon Watson, assistant professor of anthropology; Erin Washburn, associate professor of reading and elementary education; and Kendra Jason, associate professor of sociology.

“Teaching, advising and civic engagement remain vital to the University’s mission as we educate and prepare students for chosen careers, engage in innovative research and address community needs in the Charlotte region,” said Jennifer Troyer, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

James H. Woodward Faculty Research Award

Troyer with Watson's graduate studentsSharon Watson is this year’s recipient of the James H. Woodward Faculty Research Award, which is given annually to an untenured member of the faculty who was reappointed to a tenure-earning position in the preceding academic year. The award is intended to recognize a promising program of research, scholarship or creative practice and supports the career development of junior faculty in tenure-track positions.

Watson is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in health and the role that variables such as economic stability, race and public health initiatives play in decisions made about health and medical outcomes. Her appointment to the University in 2019 was part of an interdisciplinary Social Aspects of Health Initiative cluster hire intended to identify and address health inequities in urban regions.

Watson’s research examines how what we know, through scientific research, makes its way into real-life changes and policies. Her work contributes to the goals of implementation and dissemination research in exploring how the University can improve the translation of research into practice. Her recent research looked specifically at the long-term benefits of exposure to qualitative research methods, ethics and field experience on a group of young people in the country Lesotho, which has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates.

Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement

Troyer and WashburnErin Washburn is the 2024 recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement, which is given annually to a tenured faculty member whose teaching 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. Each recipient is named a senior fellow for faculty engagement in urbanCORE.

Since joining UNC Charlotte in 2019, Washburn has partnered with fellow faculty members, administrators and literacy professionals from Hornets Nest Elementary School, Niner University Elementary School and the Greater Enrichment Program to co-direct Project CERTIFIES and the UNC Charlotte Reads Program. Both projects were developed to provide teaching candidates with clinically enhanced experiences prior to student teaching and to help meet the literacy needs of K-5 learners in local schools by providing supplemental tutoring. Over the past four years, 175 teaching candidates have provided 257 K-5 students with evidence-based literacy intervention through after school tutoring.

Washburn led the development of the UNC Charlotte Summer Reading Camp at Niner University Elementary School in 2021. Since then, the program has expanded to incorporate math expertise and intervention programming and includes UNC Charlotte teaching candidates as summer intervention teachers. To date, 138 students have been served by 19 teaching candidates through this summer programming.

Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching

Troyer and JasonKendra Jason is this year’s recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching, which is awarded annually 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.

Jason aims to create a transformative learning environment for students where they can acquire skills to identify social statuses, ideologies and inequities and then develop social change strategies with immediate and long-term life applications. She challenges students to take the taken-for-granted and make it problematic, through questioning assumptions, framings, inclusions, emphases and exclusion where her overall goal is to make sociology relevant to students’ everyday lives.

Jason has chaired five master student projects, been capstone advisor to two students, and has served on four sociology master students’ committees and on the honor’s thesis undergraduate committee. She has played an active role in independent student learning by facilitating several internships and independent studies in the Sociology Department. She is currently serving as the inaugural executive fellow for strategic initiatives in UNC Charlotte’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Photos: Provost Jennifer Troyer congratulates the award recipients; five of Watson’s graduate students accepted the Woodward Faculty Research Award on her behalf.