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McNeese 2013 Pinnacle Award Winners

McNeese 2013 Pinnacle Award Winners

Pinnacle Awards
(Pictured left)  Pinnacle Entertainment Executive Vice President of Regional Operations Geno M. Iafrate, and McNeese President Dr. Philip C. Williams presented the educators with their awards totaling $30,000 during a ceremony held April 8 in McNeese's Stream Alumni Center. From left to right seated are: Dr. Michelle Haj-Broussard, Burton College of Education; Dr. Deborah I. Holder, College of Nursing; Dr. Jeffrey Totten, College of Business; and Darren Alcock, College of Science; standing from left are: Williams, Dr. Faye White and Dr. Deborah King, collaborators, Burton College of Education; Martha P. Hoskins, College of Liberal Arts; Dr. Ning Zhang, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology; Dr. Charles Watson, collaborator, College of Science, and Iafrate. 

Six McNeese State University faculty members are recipients of the 2013 Pinnacle Excellence Awards established by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. - the parent company of L'Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles - to recognize outstanding faculty achievement in each of the McNeese colleges-business, education, engineering and engineering technology, liberal arts, nursing and science.

McNeese President Dr. Philip C. Williams and Pinnacle Entertainment Executive Vice President of Regional Operations Geno M. Iafrate presented the educators with their awards totaling $30,000 during a ceremony held April 8 in McNeese's Stream Alumni Center. Each winner received a $5,000 stipend and a commemorative award statue.

The Pinnacle Excellence Awards were established in 2003 to recognize selected faculty for their innovative teaching methods and outstanding achievements in the classroom. To date, Pinnacle has given more than $240,000 in awards to McNeese professors.

"We deeply appreciate Pinnacle Entertainment for its ongoing commitment to McNeese, our professors and our community. These awards recognize excellence and innovation in the classroom and inspire new ideas that benefit student learning," said Williams.

"We proudly congratulate these Pinnacle Excellence Award winners for their passionate,original ideas and academic contributions," Iafrate said. "With our region facing unprecedented exciting new growth, higher education will be vital to the economy, culture and vibrancy of Southwest Louisiana. The Pinnacle Entertainment Foundation is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership of recognizing McNeese faculty for their outstanding work."

The focus of this year's awards is learning communities. Recipients and their proposals are:
College of Business-Dr. Jeffrey Totten, assistant professor of marketing
Totten's proposal - "Creating Intra-Course LearningCommunities Using a Social Media Networking Site" - involves using a professional social media networking site, LinkedIn, to create learning communities within one section of Topics in Contemporary Business, BADM 120, during the fall 2013 semester.
Burton College of Education-Dr. Michelle Haj-Broussard, associate professor of education professions
Haj-Broussard's proposal - "The McNeese Teacher Residency Project" - is a data-driven, hands-on approach to teacher preparation. Based on the university's strategic plan, this Teacher Residency program offers a data-driven approach to students' clinical experiences that allows them to better apply knowledge that they learn in the classroom immediately into their practices.  The program will have teacher candidates monitor their progress and their students' progress throughout the residency and ensure that they are improving both their own practices and their students' academic outcomes. Collaborators on this project are Dr. Deborah King, assistant head of the Department of Education Professions, and Dr. Faye White, chair of the Office of Student Teaching and Professional Education Services.
College of Engineering and Engineering Technology-Dr. Ning Zhang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
Zhang's proposal - "Development of Undergraduate Research Components in Engineering Courses" - will provide beneficial research opportunities for undergraduate engineering students by increasing the number of courses that incorporate computer-simulation research components in several existing undergraduate courses as well as developing and improving related computer-simulation software for those courses. This in turn will provide students with hands-on experience that relates textbook theories to real-world practical engineering problems.
College of Liberal Arts-Martha P. Hoskins, instructor of history
Hoskins' project - "Tutoring Program with E-Learning Writing Component for History Survey Courses" - continues the tutoring program which provides history survey students with peer-to-peer mentoring and tutoring in note-taking, study and writing skills, as well as guidance in the use of available online resources. The project will also expand the program under this grant to include tutoring for students taking Louisiana history, which is required for all education majors, and tutoring for students preparing to take the Praxis II exam for teacher certification in secondary social studies.

College of Nursing-Dr. Deborah I. Holder, assistant professor of nursing
Holder's proposal - "Enhancing Critical Thinking Skills Within the College of Nursing Community" - will be used to create and implement a faculty development seminar designed to better equip nursing faculty in utilizing clicker and smart board technologies to foster critical thinking in classroom settings. She will attend the 31st Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking in Berkeley, Calif., and use the information from the conference as a foundation for the seminar.
College of Science-Darren Alcock, assistant professor of mathematics and assistant head of the department of mathematics, computer science and statistics
Alcock's proposal - "Learning Community with LAMP Participants" - will establish a learning community for McNeese LAMP (Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation) participants which will help them successfully transition from high school to college by providing opportunities through peer mentoring and career related activities.  These LAMP scholars - as well as faculty members from each of the respective disciplines - will act as mentors and facilitators in the development of the academic and social progress of this learning community. He collaborated on this project with Dr. Charles Watson, assistant professor of biological science.  

Check Presentation
(Pictured left) Pinnacle Entertainment Executive Vice President of Regional Operations Geno M. Iafrate, left, presented McNeese President Dr. Philip C. Williams with a $30,000 donation during a ceremony held April 8 in McNeese's Stream Alumni Center. The donation provides each winner with a $5,000 stipend and a commemorative award statue.