Oklahoma Christian honors outstanding faculty, staff

At its spring commencement ceremonies, Oklahoma Christian presented three faculty members with awards for their outstanding accomplishments, service and leadership.

Chris Austin received the Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching Award, Paul Howard received the Jack and Barbara Rowe Distinguished Scholar Award, and Amanda Nichols received OC’s Faculty Leadership Award.

Austin is an associate professor of physics who earned his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian in 2001 before returning to his alma mater in 2008. He has an interest in science education, and has helped edit the state certification exam for physics. He presented at the Transformative Learning Conference and was published in the Journal of Transformative Learning in 2013 and 2014. He served as a mentor in the Outstanding Professor Academy for Educators’ Leadership Academy in 2014-2015.

“Dr. Austin is known for his fierce commitment to the learning of all his students, but he is remarkable for his commitment to science learning for the non-major,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott LaMascus said. “He is an guru of flipped classroom style, learning measurements and innovative science education.”

Howard is an associate professor of mathematics at Oklahoma Christian who works to build meaningful relationships with his students. He is a member of the Mathematics Association of America and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. His primary academic interests are mathematics education and point set topology.

“Dr. Howard is collaborating with Dr. Robyn Miller, who is on leave to work for the Oklahoma Department of Education, on a project to get education majors to think and train more carefully as they prepare to be certified mathematics teachers. Their work has been presented nationally to scholars in their fields and will be further prepared for publication,” LaMascus said. “We are proud of Dr. Howard’s teaching at OC and his scholarship in mathematics education.

Nichols, an associate professor of chemistry at OC, is a 2003 Oklahoma Christian graduate who joined OC’s faculty in 2008. She was one of just 25 scholars from around the world chosen for two summers of study in the Scholars and Christianity program at the University of Oxford. Her recent research is focused on science education and mentoring female undergraduates studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.

“Dr. Nichols is an outstanding teacher of chemistry, but she has provided key leadership in perpetuating OC’s national leadership in teaching about the key relationship between science and the Bible,” LaMascus said. “Her work at OC and at Oxford has put her among a select group of scholars working to impact all Christian universities through the Templeton Religion Trust.”

The university also honored another faculty members and two outstanding staff members. The Second Mile Award, sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond, was presented to Kelli Dudley and ConChita Wilkerson.

Dudley came to Oklahoma Christian in 2013 as an instructor in OC’s School of Education. She was recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty, opening her house to students for dinner, for counsel or to study for the Oklahoma Subject Area Tests (OSAT).

In addition to her vital accounts payable role in OC’s Business Office, Wilkerson is known for her volunteerism and hospitality. She mentors and tutors students on her own time, and houses students in need over the summers and during holiday breaks.

OC named Lisa Herndon as the Staff Employee of the Year. A 1996 OC alumna, Herndon began working in the Office of Information Technology Services in 2010. As manager for support solutions, she is integral in providing excellent support to OC students and employees.

Summer 2016

View more stories from the Summer 2016 issue of Vision magazine.