The 2014 Bruce B. Stewart Awards have been presented to Melanie Lee-Brown, Mylène Dressler and Barb Boyette; and the Board of Visitors Award for Excellence in Academic Advising has been presented to Heather Richardson Hayton.
These awards, among the highest honors Guilford bestows on its faculty and staff, were announced at the Spring Awards Celebration on Wednesday, April 16, in the Carnegie Room of Hege Library. The event program includes a complete list of awards announced during the event.
Associate Professor of Biology Melanie Lee-Brown has earned a reputation among her department’s students as the “hardest teacher ever.” She received the Bruce B. Stewart Teaching Award for a tenured faculty member, because she also helps her students rise to that challenge.
“I can still hear Melanie’s voice in my head, nearly six years after I graduated from Guilford College,” an alumna now in her third-year of medical school wrote. “When I am approaching a problem or getting ready to stand up and present my work in front of doctors and researchers, it is her voice I hear guiding me to a solution or making me stand a bit taller in front of my audience.
“She pushed me when I needed it most, allowed me to discover things on my own, and was a constant source of support. I am convinced I would not be where I am today without her as a teacher and advisor.”
Melanie has been a champion of undergraduate research, developing innovative laboratory exercises in a number of her classes. Her biochemistry course, for instance, challenges students to work as a team to replicate the experiments from a peer-reviewed research paper and then design and carry out the “next step” in the research project. Every year, she accompanies students as they present their work at regional and national scientific meetings.
Assistant Professor of English Mylène Dressler, winner of the Bruce B. Stewart Award for Teaching Excellence for an untenured faculty member, is, in the words of a colleague, “without a doubt a shining star on Guilford’s campus; she enriches the lives of everyone around her and invigorates and transforms every student who comes in contact with her, whether in the classroom or outside of it.”
An adult student who had previously struggled with some of the concepts in the discipline found an English course with Mylène to be a life-changing experience. “Mylène’s way of teaching ENG 200 completely changed the way I looked at literature and the world,” the student wrote.
She also enriches the College in other ways. As faculty advisor to the Greenleaf Review, Mylène has taken that periodical to an entirely new level. In the spring of 2012, she started the Guilford Writing Group with just a handful of students; it now has more than two dozen active members.
Assistant Academic Dean for Student Support Barb Boyette earned the Bruce B. Stewart Community Service Award by tirelessly advocating for student success.
Barb “is a dynamo of energy and efficiency and encourages new ideas and new approaches,” wrote a faculty member in his nomination. “With these qualities, [she] has been able to ensure that all students receive excellent and consistent support. [She] is constantly developing better ways to address student challenges before they become an issue and to identify struggling students as early as possible each semester. She regularly works with her team … to find the most effective ways to support each student.”
Another faculty member agreed: “With Barb’s encouragement (and sometimes downright pushiness), departments and programs that had previously worked in isolation and with individual senses of ‘territoriality’ have begun to communicate with each other, sharing information on student challenges and working toward approaches that provide shared solutions. … The campus has developed a more ‘holistic’ approach toward nurturing student success.”
A few months ago, Barb received the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award, recognition given to only 10 educators nationwide each year.
The Bruce B. Stewart Awards were created by a gift from former trustee Bill Soles ’81, his sister Jan Soles ’87 and their father, the late W. Roger Soles. The gift honors Bruce ’61, who has served his alma mater as chair of the Board of Trustees, provost and director of the Richardson Fellows Program, among other roles. Bruce is the retired head of Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.
Associate Professor of English Heather Richardson Hayton, recipient of the 2014 Board of Visitors Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, brings an extraordinary passion to her advising, according to colleagues and students alike.
“I witness first-hand the number of students who line up to see her at all hours of every single day,” one of her colleagues wrote. “Her door is always open and there is rarely a moment when she doesn’t have a student with her. I am amazed at how many alums come back to Archdale just to see her and tell her what has been going on in their professional and personal lives.
“All advisors here at Guilford are very good with their students; but Heather goes above and beyond. Students come to Heather to talk about their coursework, but so, so much more as well. They come to her for encouragement, for support, for advice. … She is even available for a shoulder to cry on. I can’t tell you how many times Heather will open her door after a private meeting with a student, both of them in tears.”
The Board of Visitors initiated this award three years ago, in part, to recognize the crucial role advisors play in helping students achieve their goals both at and after Guilford. It also celebrates faculty members who practice academic advising with exceptional dedication and expertise.