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ULM celebrates employees at 2024 Foundation Awards for Excellence

Published May 16, 2024

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MONROE, LA – The University of Louisiana Monroe celebrated the successes of its faculty and staff at the annual Foundation Awards for Excellence on Monday, April 30, at Bayou Pointe Event Center. The University bestowed emeriti status to four professors, honored seven faculty and staff with Awards of Excellence and promoted 21 faculty to full professor, associate professor or tenure. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Mark Arant first bestowed professor emeritus status to Dr. Jack Heflin, Professor of English, Dr. William Ryan, Professor of English, Dr. Paul Nelson, Professor of Economics, and Dr. Mark Clark, Professor of Music.  

“Professor Emeritus is a special distinction reserved for faculty who have made an outstanding professional contribution and have rendered significant academic service to the university,” said Arant.   

Arant then introduced faculty promoted to professor (Dr. Wendy Bailes, Dr. Oscar Garza, Dr. Alexis Horace, Dr. Clifford Tresner, and Dr. Sandra Watson), clinical professor (Dr. Anthony Walker), and associate professor (Dr. Nektarios Barabutis, Dr. Caroline Carpenter, Dr. Bryan Donald, Ms. Aundrea Foy, Dr. Joshua Gann, Dr. Amy Kincannon, Dr. Victoria Miller, Dr. Elizabeth Oldfather, Dr. Brendan Rowley, Dr. Samuel Shannon, Dr. Kenna Veronee). Professors and Associate Professors awarded tenure included Barabutis, Carpenter, Donald, Foy, Gann, Garza, Miller, Oldfather, Rowley, Shannon, Veronee, Watson, and Dr. Vonny Thornton.  

Dr. Karen Briski and President Ron Berry

The Ken Clow Award for Excellence in Research went to Dr. Karen Briski, professor of pharmacology and neuroanatomy. The award is named after the late marketing professor who published multiple books and more than 200 journal articles and proceedings. Dr. Briski’s career has spanned over 40 years. She has worked in the ULM College of Pharmacy since 1999. She has maintained a highly successful independent biomedical research program, which has yielded 167 peer-reviewed publications. 

“Dr. Briski is exactly the type of professor that should be honored with this award,” said ULM Chief Research and Innovation Office Dr. John Sutherlin. “Dr. Briski’s involvement with students and teaching abilities have all been enhanced by her research. Yet, the thing I value most with Dr. Briski is her commitment to research integrity and honesty,” continued Sutherlin. 

Dr. Joyce Zhou and President Ron Berry

Dr. Joyce Zhou, professor of marketing, won the Florencetta Gibson Award for Excellence in Service. Named after the professor emerita of nursing, the award goes to a faculty member who is committed to service to the University in ways that positively impact the institution and community as a whole. Dr. Zhou has previously won the Spotlight Award for Commitment to Diversity, Equality, and Service to Community from the ULM Cultural Diversity Council in 2024. She was named Honors Faculty of the Year in 2023 and has served for three years as Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Faculty Advisor. She also serves on the board of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.  

“Dr. Zhou goes to great lengths to engage in her service work,” said ULM Marketing Program Coordinator Dr. Zachary Moore. “The enthusiasm and passion with which she approaches her service work are genuinely inspiring. She exemplifies taking the university out of its walls and into our community, representing it well,” he added.  

Dr. Rebecca Hamm and President Ron Berry

The recipient of the Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching was Dr. Rebecca Hamm, associate professor of radiologic technology. Hamm has been teaching at ULM since 2015 and in 2023 won the Outstanding Faculty Award for the School of Allied Health and the Rising Young Alumni Award from the ULM Alumni Association.    

“Dr. Hamm’s passion for teaching has resulted in a clear improvement in student success in the Radiologic Technology program,” said Dr. Wendy Bailes, Dean of the ULM College of Health Sciences. “Her work ethic is unmatched, and her knowledge and skill in teaching contribute significantly to the success of the program,” continued Bailes.  

Dr. Shalanda Stanley and President Ron Berry




The Foundation Award for Excellence in Creative and Innovative Works was awarded to Dr. Shalanda Stanley. Stanley has taught at ULM since 2013 and currently serves as the Associate Director of the School of Education. Stanley has published two novels, Drowning Is Inevitable and Nick and June Were Here, both of which have been adopted by the Louisiana Department of Education to be taught in high school English classrooms across the state.  

“Dr. Stanley demonstrates the power of creative and innovative work to impact ULM students, the community, the state, and far beyond,” said Dr. Myra Lovett, Director of the ULM School of Education. “She accomplishes this in the courses she teaches for future educators, in engaging in the fulfilling creative work of writing, and in inspiring the writer in everyone,” added Lovett.  

Ahmaad Solmone and President Ron Berry


The Alma Sewell Award for Service by Unclassified Staff went to Ahmaad Solmone, Director of Orientation Programs and Special Events. Named after the staff member who dedicated more than four decades of service to ULM, the award goes to an employee who is an inspiration for their exemplary service, on- or off-campus. Solmone has served in a number of roles in the Office of Recruitment since 2012 and currently oversees the PREP and POP programs for incoming freshmen and their parents, as well as the campus tour program. Solomone also is on the executive committee of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA.)  

“Campus representatives, parents, and high school counselors have contacted me to compliment Ahmaad’s professionalism, patience, and positivity,” said Lisa Miller, ULM Vice President for Enrollment Management and University Relations. “His ability to connect with students and parents of all backgrounds is remarkable,” she added.  

Erick Burton and President Ron Berry

The Judy Smith Award for Warhawk Spirit, named after the late assistant director of the Office of Financial Aid who demonstrated selfless dedication to student fulfillment, was awarded to Erick Burton, Senior Enrollment Services Specialist. Burton is a 2021 graduate of ULM who founded the ULM Cultural Diversity Council as a student and currently serves as its co-advisor. In his current role, he works to recruit new students in middle- to low-income areas and continues to pour into these students once they become Warhawks.  

“Erick has created relationships with school administrators, counselors, teachers, students and parents that will sustain for generations to come,” said Gina White, Director of International Student Services and Multicultural Affairs. “He leads with the mission of the university in every encounter and action that he takes as one of the first faces of ULM,” added White.  

Danielle Barton and President Ron Berry

The Madelaine Lanham Award for Service by Classified Staff was awarded to Danielle Barton, Administrative Assistant in the School of Education. Barton has worked in the School of Education since 2022 and previously served as administrative coordinator in the Dental Hygiene program, where she received the “Shining Star” Award in 2022. 

“Danielle truly embodies servant leadership, always recognizing and prioritizing the needs of her colleagues, students, and department without prompting,” said Kacie Burns, Director of Teacher Certification and Professional Advancement. “Even on the most difficult of days, Danielle cheers and encourages others with her positive, affirming words and her sunny outlook. She is truly a tremendous asset to the School of Education and the university as a whole,” added Burns.