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Liberal Arts recognizes faculty for teaching, research and service in 2019-2020

Published May 20, 2020

The Liberal Arts Program at Texas A&M University at Qatar has recognized faculty excellence for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The program annually recognizes exemplary members of the department in three aspects of faculty responsibility: teaching, research and service. This year’s winners have demonstrated excellence in these roles while exhibiting fruitful ways in which the liberal arts can work synergistically with STEM fields, the awards committee said.

TAMUQ-Liberal-Arts-RuddDr. Mysti Rudd was recognized for outstanding service to the Liberal Arts Program and the faculty, staff and students of Texas A&M at Qatar. During the past seven years, Rudd has helped create “citizen engineers” as a faculty member in the Liberal Arts Program and in her role as director of student learning Support in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). This last year, her efforts went above and beyond her normal duties as she served the department and the campus in outstanding ways. She was a member of a task force assigned to evaluate the Liberal Arts Program and offer a vision for increasing the visibility of the program. For the campus, she serves on the TAMUQ Building Committee, the Aggie Life Committee, Student Success Initiative Task Force, Women's Faculty Forum, CTL Advisory Board and the Dean's Leadership Council.

She is passionately involved in student learning, is the faculty advisor to the student writing club CAPS (Conclave of Aggie Poets and Scribblers) and was the faculty representative on the TEDxTAMUQ Selection Committee for speakers. She was chosen to be the sole faculty participant to lead students on the Aggie Service-Learning Experience (ASLE) to Laos in 2019 to build an eco-friendly bungalow for a village as a revenue rental. Rudd founded the Best Writing anthology of student writing in 2014 and each year commits large amounts of time to editing the collection. She incorporated staff and faculty in Best Writing: A Thousand Ways to Begin with writing workshops. She has also volunteered to recruit and orient new students through "Experience Life as an Aggie" and the Admitted Students Fair. She has remained extremely active while assuming additional workloads at the CTL and teaching a full load of English classes, and is described as an exemplary model of faculty service at Texas A&M at Qatar.

TAMUQ-Liberal-Arts-HillmanDr. Sara Hillman was recognized for excellence in research. In 2019, Hillman saw three articles go into print in reputable, refereed journals and another recently published as the lead piece of a special issue in a Q1-ranking journal. The first article in a special issue of Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration explores the status of migrant/community languages in language education and policy in Qatar. The second article, published in Heritage Language Journal, explores ideologies about the Arabic language and what it means to be a heritage language learner of Arabic. The third article, in a special issue of English Teaching & Learning, is the first article to examine classroom language policies and translanguaging practices in transnational higher education in Qatar. Translanguaging, or multilingual speakers’ ability to shuttle between languages and pull from their entire linguistic repertoire for various purposes, is a topic of extreme interest across many interdisciplinary fields right now but especially in bilingual education. The study sheds light on the complexities of the linguistic ecology of transnational university spaces, but considers ways to promote translanguaging pedagogy that empowers students’ diverse linguistic and cultural identities. Her fourth journal article (as first author) will be the lead piece in a special issue on “World Englishes (WE) in the Middle East and North Africa” in the Q1-ranking journal World Englishes.

Hillman’s work was accepted for presentation at eight different conferences this past year, including the major conference in her field—the American Association of Applied Linguistics—which has a low acceptance rate. She also received funding from the Liberal Arts Program to organize and host two prominent applied linguistic and education scholars — Dr. Awad Ibrahim (University of Ottawa) and Dr. Peter De Costa (Michigan State University) — for a successful Liberal Arts Research Colloquium in December on “A better way forward for transnational higher education.” Hillman is the first Texas A&M at Qatar liberal arts faculty member to win a two-year $150,000 Responsive Research Seed Grant, a significant internal grant, to lead an interdisciplinary research team including two undergraduate students to investigate the question, “How attractive is the engineering field for females in Qatar?” Her remarkable research endeavors in linguistics enhance the reputation of Texas A&M at Qatar as a leader on the subject.

TAMUQ-Liberal-Arts-HodgesDr. Amy Hodges was recognized for outstanding teaching, and she excels in the field of teaching by making the art of English applicable to the field of engineering. Her popular Technical and Business Writing course, a required course for all engineering students at Texas A&M at Qatar, provides students with a design challenge related to local communities and national initiatives. Last year’s semester themes included accessible products for users with disabilities and sulfur byproducts in Qatar’s petroleum industry. Students work in teams to develop innovative prototypes of their ideas and create many different types of media (written reports, oral presentations, posters and videos), allowing all learners to express themselves in different ways and develop their workplace communication strategies. In 2016, Hodges created the STEAM Showcase for her students to demonstrate their projects for all faculty, staff and students at Texas A&M at Qatar to showcase the diverse ways in which our students connect their liberal arts courses to their science and engineering knowledge. She continues to assign projects each semester to be displayed at the showcase and serves on the Aggie Life 102 Committee, whose mission is to foster connections between first-year courses in all disciplines at TAMUQ, especially between liberal arts and STEM courses.

Hodges attends and presents at the leading international conferences in her field, including the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference, Council of Writing Program Administrators, Conference on College Composition and Communication, International Conference on English Across the Curriculum, and serves as president of the Middle East North Africa Writing Centers Alliance. She serves an additional role as the Writing Across the Curriculum Coordinator in the CTL, working with faculty and teaching staff on writing-related matters each semester. Her exemplary efforts in the classroom were recently recognized with a Texas A&M Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Hodges shows the vast possibilities in bringing liberal arts and STEM together for faculty and students.

Dr. Joseph Ura, interim chair of the Liberal Arts Program, said, “I am incredibly proud of the Liberal Arts Program’s contributions to Texas A&M University at Qatar. My award-winning colleagues’ achievements in teaching, research and service represent the very best of our efforts to serve our students, generate knowledge, and support our campus community. Congratulations to Professors Hodges, Hillman and Rudd, and many thanks for everything they give to Texas A&M.”