ROCK HILL, S.C. – Two Winthrop professors who excel in designing curriculum and offering innovative ways for students to learn are recipients of two of the university’s teaching awards.
Marketing Professor Jane Thomas will receive the 2008 James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Dec. 20 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony at the Winthrop Coliseum. English Professor John Bird will serve next year as the Thompson Scholar to help improve the teaching of critical thinking and writing across all disciplines.
The Kinard award was named in honor of Winthrop’s second president, James Pinckney Kinard, and his wife, Lee Wicker Kinard, to recognize a faculty member who has demonstrated a dedication to teaching and is highly regarded on campus by faculty and students.
Thomas is known for her special gifts in integrating traditional coursework with hands-on experiences for her students. Her creativity and command of her discipline already have earned her honors in 2006 as the William H. Grier Professor for the College of Business Administration and in 2005 as the recipient of the Wachovia Teaching Prize as the outstanding teacher in the College of Business Administration.
In her classes, Thomas uses non-profit organizations and businesses to serve as clients. Students, who collect data, analyze situations, and make practical recommendations to the clients, come away from the experience having learned how timely, relevant and fun marketing research can be.
Administrators praise Thomas for her record of scholarship in authoring journal articles and then relating her findings back to her coursework and to curriculum design. “She is skilled at connecting expertise gained through research to support business activity in the region,” said Roger Weikle, dean of the College of Business Administration, in nominating Thomas. She also has shared her teaching successes with colleagues and mentored new teachers on the concepts of good teaching.
Thomas joined the College of Business Administration in 1990 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned tenure and promotion to associate professor in 1996 and to professor in 2004.
Meanwhile, Bird proposes to help improve the university’s Touchstone, or general education, program by sharing with each college improved ways to teach the critical writing 201 class. For the past few years, all Winthrop students have learned critical thinking concepts in that class. Bird said it is crucial the concept be spread to faculty in all disciplines to help ensure an integrated experience for students. He also would arrange visits to critical writing classes by faculty experts from across the disciplines so students can benefit from multiple perspectives.
This is the fourth year for the Thompson Scholar, created by former Winthrop Board of Trustee Bob Thompson and his wife, Norma, of Rock Hill. The fund provides for reassigned time for two classes per year for a faculty member to work on projects that strengthen the academic, intellectual, and co-curricular life of the university.
Bird, the Kinard Award recipient in 2005, has taught a total of 20 different courses at Winthrop, including courses in composition, critical thinking, American literature, and critical theory and on his primary research topic, Mark Twain. Bird came to Winthrop as an associate professor of English in 1993 and was promoted to professor in 2005.