BOONE — Appalachian State University’s Amanda C. Howell, along with 11 other educators in the Sun Belt Conference, was recognized last month as the league announced its inaugural Faculty Member of the Year Awards. Howell is a senior lecturer and chemistry lab coordinator in Appalachian’s A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences, housed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“These educators continue to go above and beyond to positively impact the lives of students and student-athletes at our Sun Belt universities,” Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill said. “We are honored to recognize their dedication to student success on their respective campuses.”

One award winner is named from each Sun Belt institution. The honors recognize a faculty member who displays valuable classroom skills, such as developing relationships, being a good communicator and showing a passion for teaching, and engaging and inspiring students, while also separating themselves from their peers outside the classroom by regularly attending athletics events and displaying enthusiasm for the athletics department.

According to Pierre Banks, Appalachian’s director of student-athlete development, students who have worked with Howell said her “positive attitude and willingness to help students is unlike any other professor,” and that she “has a unique way of presenting material, making the class inclusive, (and) is approachable and understanding.”

The concept for the award originated at the Sun Belt’s 2018 fall meeting, during conversations between the Sun Belt Ambassadors — a collection of student-athletes from the conference schools — and Faculty Athletic Representatives. The Sun Belt’s 12 honorees were chosen from nearly 10,000 full-time faculty members, and the combined enrollment across the conference is more than 160,000 students, with student-athletes comprising more than 3,100 of these students.

Howell has served as a senior lecturer in Appalachian’s chemistry and fermentation sciences department since 2016 and is a two-time finalist for the College of Arts and Sciences’ Non-Tenure Track Excellence in Teaching Award.

Howell, who holds a B.S. in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, received her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2006. Most recently, she participated in a Course (Re)Design workshop provided by the Center of Academic Excellence at Appalachian — an experience she said helps “keep her teaching fresh.”

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