OBU presented its highest faculty and staff honors during the university's 101st Spring Commencement May 15. OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock presented the awards before an overflow audience of more than 1,800 in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Each year during Spring Commencement, OBU presents three important awards to recognize quality teaching and faithful, productive service: the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Promising Teacher Award. Nominations for the awards are made by alumni, current students, faculty and administration. In addition to public recognition and a token of the university's appreciation, the recipients receive cash awards provided by OBU graduates John and Janet Hudson of Edmond, Oklahoma.
Dr. Albert Chen, professor of physics, received OBU's Distinguished Teaching Award. The highest honor for OBU faculty members, this award is presented to a faculty member who has taught at OBU for five consecutive years or more. This faculty member has exemplified in his or her teaching career those characteristics of superior instruction delineated in the "Commitment to Excellence," a statement of teaching expectations and objectives adopted by OBU's faculty, administration and Board of Trustees.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said Chen has earned the respect and admiration of his peers, demonstrating excellence at every turn.
"A colleague recently commented that our recipient can make it possible for anyone to follow his technical data and research," he said. "This is a mark of a great teacher."
Chen joined the OBU faculty in the James E. Hurley College of Science and Mathematics in 1986 and currently serves as professor of physics. He earned his bachelor's degree from Chung-Wang Christian College of Science and Engineering. He then completed a Master of Science and Ph.D. at Baylor University. During his time at OBU, he has conducted extensive research with NASA, including Martian dust simulation studies and researching the design of high altitude diffusers for space shuttle main engines. In 1989, OBU's chapter of Mortar Board honored him as Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Linda McElroy, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies, received Oklahoma Baptist University's Meritorious Service Award. This award is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has made a substantial commitment of years, service, and who has been a loyal and faithful faculty or staff member.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said McElroy has earned the respect of students and colleagues alike.
"She treats students like family with encouragement and advice as well as needed focus and correction," he said. "She is often referred to as the 'campus mom' by current and former students. She has served the OBU community in more ways than we can cover in this simple introduction."
McElroy joined the OBU faculty in 1990 and currently serves as professor of kinesiology and leisure studies, and she recently concluded 25 years of service as cheerleading coach. She earned a bachelor's degree from Indiana State University, a master's degree from Purdue University and a doctorate from the University of Utah. She is a member of the Oklahoma Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She was named Outstanding Physical Education Faculty Member at Oklahoma State University in 1984, and named to Who's Who in America's Young Women in 1982. In 2010, she received OBU's Distinguished Teaching Award.
Dr. Contessa Edgar, assistant professor of biology, received Oklahoma Baptist University's Promising Teacher Award. This award is presented to a junior faculty member who has taught at OBU less than six years, has demonstrated outstanding potential as a teacher and has exhibited the characteristics of one who may be a future recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said Edgar's students look to her as a mentor and a role model.
"She interacts with individual students as if they are the most important person in the world," he said. "She serves the OBU community in a multitude of ways and has been described as a 'bright and shining jewel' in the James E. Hurley College of Science and Mathematics."
Prior to joining the OBU faculty, Edgar worked as an associate research scientist for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. She also was an instructor in the graduate program in biomedical sciences at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. She previously served as a lecturer and teaching assistant in immunology at the Mayo Graduate School, where she also served as a teaching assistant on molecular genetics. In 2002-03, she was named a Barry M. Goldwater scholar. She is a member of Alpha Chi Honor Society and the American Association of Immunologists.