Four Brenau faculty members announced as award winners

Oct 27, 2020
Kathryne Davis
Sheena Weghorn (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

When Sheena Weghorn, assistant professor of psychology, found out she won the award for Outstanding Part-Time Faculty, she tried her best to fight back tears.

The faculty awards, usually announced during spring commencement, were awarded to four professors during the faculty meeting held Friday, Oct. 9. The Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award is given to two members of the faculty whose teaching and service to the university are exemplary. In addition to a plaque, the award recipients each receive a $500 honorarium.

Weghorn said she was surprised but grateful that her hard work led to this accomplishment.

Humnath Panta (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“It was wonderful to hear that what I do daily and feel so passionately about is actually making a difference to students and my colleagues,” Weghorn said. “I was fighting pretty hard not to cry during receipt of the award, especially when Dr. Eck read a student’s comment about my being the ‘brightest person in any room.’”

Students described Weghorn as a great professor, fun to be around, influential, selfless, caring and compassionate.

Humnath Panta, professor in the College of Business and Communication, received the other part-time award. Students said Panta was exceptionally knowledgeable, encouraging, understanding, genuine and helpful.

Panta became part-time after leaving Brenau last fall as a full-time faculty member and does all he can to help his students. He said he’s always available to his students, even in the summertime.

“I could not believe I won it,” he said. “I was so happy. Even though I’m part-time, I still feel like I’m part of Brenau. I always think of Brenau as my home.”

Kelley Brock-Simmons (Photo courtesy of Kelley-Brock-Simmons)

Kelley Brock-Simmons, chair of graduate education programs and assistant professor of education, received this year’s Vulcan Teaching Award. The award is given to a faculty member for outstanding leadership, exceptional commitment to teaching and academic advising and who provides leadership and support in preparing students for their professional lives. Brock-Simmons was selected for this award by faculty and students, and the award includes a plaque along with a $1,000 honorarium.

Brock-Simmons was said to model excellence, empower others and has a heart that lifts up others.

“Receiving an honor like this is amazing when you work alongside people who inspire you every day,” she said. “Then, when I read some of my nominating remarks, it just made the whole experience so rich. Representing the College of Education and serving our students, working with our faculty and also collaborating with Brenau’s faculty across the campus is the spirit of leadership, and I am thrilled to be named this year’s winner.”

The final award given was the Ann Austin Johnston Outstanding Faculty award, made possible by Donald C. Johnston in honor of his wife and Brenau alum, Ann Austin Johnston. This award carries the highest honors, along with a plaque and a $2,500 honorarium. The recipient of this award was Brandi Worsham, associate professor of education.

Brandi Worsham (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

In order to receive this award, the faculty member must demonstrate excellence in all areas of responsibility including consistency, respect, concern for students and the ability to communicate effectively. Worsham accomplished this by creating an atmosphere conducive to learning, providing constructive feedback, remaining positive and pushing her students to do their best to become better writers and scholars.

“I was very surprised and delighted to be the recipient of the 2020 Ann Austin Johnston Faculty Award,” Worsham said. “I was honored to receive such a prestigious award for teaching, especially knowing that so many of my colleagues are equally deserving. I’ll definitely appreciate and cherish this award throughout my teaching career.”

Provost Jim Eck had high praises for the four award winners.

“Brenau celebrates the recognition of these four exemplary faculty members that teach undergraduate and graduate students on-ground and remotely,” he said.

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Brenau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.