|Professors recognized for teaching superiority
|Four MUSC professors
were selected to receive the 2010 MUSC Foundation Teaching Excellence
Award for their extraordinary accomplishments and teaching methods.
Elaine Amella, Ph.D., R.N., College of Nursing; Ruth Stockdell Conner,
Ph.D., R.N., College of Nursing; Michael Kern, Ph.D., College of
Medicine and Dental Medicine; and Rochelle Hanson, Ph.D., College
of Medicine, will receive their awards, which includes $3,000, during
the Faculty Convocation in August.
"These recipients deserve our highest praise for the contributions they
have made and continue to make to our educational mission. They serve
as role models for all of us who are fortunate enough to spend our
careers in academia. It is clear they are also role models for the
scores of individuals they have motivated, enlightened and prepared to
be outstanding health professionals."
--Dr. Darlene Shaw
Amella, professor of nursing, has been described as a “mentor of
mentors” by an associate in the College of Nursing (CON), and has
counseled many CON faculty at some point in their careers.
“Dr. Amella was my mentor as I traversed the complexities of balancing
teaching, research and service to achieve department chair status,”
explained colleague Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N., chair of the
Department of Nursing, in her nominating letter. “She is THE
educator-mentor exemplar in the College of Nursing.”
She joined MUSC's faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor and has
taken on many leadership roles, including directing the Ph.D. in
Nursing program and CON’s Community Health Partnerships Center, and
serving as associate dean for research and evaluation.
Amella’s work and contributions to nursing have earned her local, state
and national recognition.
Amella is a two-time recipient of the college’s Golden Apple
Award and was named Outstanding Ph.D. faculty member. She earned the
Palmetto Gold Award from the South Carolina Nurses Foundation and the
Dean’s Alumni/ae Award for Professional Contribution from Pace
University. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nurse
Practitioners, Gerontological Society of America and American Academy
In addition to her current faculty position, she also is a visiting
professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of
Sheffield in Great Britain.
Conner, an instructor in the College of Nursing (CON), credits her
current status as a doctoral candidate with helping her to teach others.
“I truly understand the challenges of balancing a career, academic and
personal responsibilities,” she explained in her philosophy of
education, of which humor plays a major role. “The most rewarding
experience for me is when I am in the clinical setting with the
students, and they are able to witness a patient smiling or laughing
because of something I said or did.”
She brings to her students a wealth of personal experience, having
worked as a travel nurse at hospitals in Nevada and Florida and as a
staff nurse at Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia and MUSC. Until
recently, she served as a per diem nurse on Medical University
Hospital’s Transplant Service.
This merger of clinical experience with her doctoral requirements
enables Connor to stimulate her own students in an uncommon manner.
“This current knowledge of nursing practice allows her to invigorate
classroom content with actual case studies and to pepper the class with
problem-solving questions,” said Nancy Duffy, DNP, R.N., CON director
of undergraduate programs, in supporting Connor’s nomination. “She is
able to communicate a sense of hands-on, real-time connectedness with
patient care. The students recognize and appreciate the
professor and director of clinical services for MUSC’s nationally
recognized Crime Victims Treatment and Research Center (CVRC), has
earned the respect and admiration of colleagues, trainees and patients
alike. In the painfully emotional field of child trauma, she is
considered one of America’s preeminent authorities.
“By every measure, Dr. Hanson is simply a marvelous educator and mentor
to young health care professionals,” said Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D.,
Distinguished Professor and director of the CVRC and Ben Saunders,
Ph.D., professor and CVRC associate director. “She is absolutely
dedicated to her students and trainees, their learning and their
One case, as described by a former intern, Cameo Borntrager, Ph.D.,
demonstrates her dedication to those under her mentorship and the
patients and families she serves. “I was working with a mother whose
child was a victim of incest, and the mother had limited emotional
support as well as concerns regarding how treatment may affect her
child,” explained Borntrager, now an assistant professor at the
University of Montana. To show support for the family, Hanson suggested
the intern accompany them to a crucial court hearing, and she herself
went. “I went on to successfully complete treatment with the family and
the child was functioning as a typically healthy youngster by the end
of therapy,” Borntrager said in supporting Hanson’s nomination. “This
was one example of many in which Dr. Hanson went above and beyond the
‘call of duty’ in terms of mentorship.”
Hanson joined the MUSC faculty in 1992.
Michael Kern, Ph.D.
one of MUSC’s “bright stars,” Michael Kern, associate professor in the
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy with a joint appointment in the
College of Dental Medicine, is supported in his nomination by Dental
Medicine’s four class presidents ranging from 2010 to 2013 representing
more than 200 students.
“Dr. Kern has always displayed integrity, responsibility and fairness
while providing the highest quality instruction,” the presidents said
in their letter of support. “He is the educator that all in the
teaching profession should strive to become.”
Students are impressed with Kern’s commitment to provide the answers to
questions he does not readily know at the earliest possible time.
Rather then wait until the next class period, he informs his students
by e-mail the same day he is asked the question, giving them the answer
and full explanation.
Dental students ranked Kern first out of 72 educators who taught them
during calendar year 2009, despite the complexity of his subject—
“He utilizes the innovative teaching methodology and information
technology most effectively as a teacher and has earned accolades from
students of his innovative teaching expertise,” said Tariq Javed, CDM’s
associate dean for academic and student affairs, in nominating Kern.
Kern joined the MUSC faculty in 1995.
Friday, May 21, 2010