2015-2016 Arts & Letters Award Winners

The College of Arts and Letters would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who nominated their colleagues this year. Our award winners are only a sampling of the dedicated faculty and staff we are proud to have in our college, and this year's Awards Committee read with great interest about the accomplishments of many more than the six we are able to recognize here. 

Without further ado, our award winners for 2015-2016!


Researcher of the Year

Jonathan Barron

Department of English 

Jonathan BarronJonathan Barron is an Associate Professor in the Department of English whose research interests include American poetry and literature, particularly Jewish-American. His M.A. and Ph.D. are from Indiana University, and he has been an active and engaged member of the Southern Miss Department of English since 1995. 

His latest book, How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter, was published by University of Missouri Press in 2015. Reviews praised the book, saying:

“An engaging combination of literary history, biography, and critical reading. This is a superb account of Frost’s literary emergence, his brilliant navigation of complex literary and cultural waters, and of an important moment in American literary culture. The book also leaves readers with an understanding of a Frost who worked within his time but produced something much, much greater than his moment.”—Robert Faggen, author of Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin

“A painstaking, highly researched, and a welcome reconsideration of Frost’s early poems in A Boy’s Will and North of Boston. It is an ambitious literary sociology, as it bears on American writing in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, along with a with close reading and appreciative speculation about a number of poems.”—William Pritchard, author of Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered

In addition to the many articles he's published, Barron is also the longtime director of the Robert Frost Society (2000-present) and the editor of the peer-reviewed annual journal, The Robert Frost Review, which has contributed greatly to our understanding of Frost.

One thing we particularly appreciate about Jonathan Barron as a researcher is his commitment to bringing his research to both his students and the public. His writing is clear and stimulating, his perspective fresh, and his intellectual arguments accessible. He is loved by his students for his ability to instill in them a love of poetry and literature, and to use his own research and that of others in the field to make the materials his students read relevant to them. He brings his research to other scholars at numerous conferences and to the general public via presentations all over the country.

Congratulations, Dr. Barron, on being named the 2015-16 Arts and Letters Researcher of the Year. We are proud to have your work enhancing the scholarly reputation of your department, our college, and The University of Southern Mississippi.


Instructor of the Year

Mary Beth Farrell

Department of History 

Mary Beth FarrellMary Beth Farrell is an Instructor in the Department of History and Director of the Social Studies Licensure Program. She has an M.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi, and has been a member of the History Department since 1991, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching in the same Mississippi high schools in which she now places her students.

The Department of History is immensely proud of its licensure program, which not only accounts for half of its majors, but is also turning stellar teachers who will share their love of history with Mississippi's youth for generations to come. Of Mary Beth's role in the licensure programs, one of her colleagues said:

"It has been Mary Beth Farrell who has built the program, who mentors its students, who works to make certain that the program retains its accreditation, and who serves as a constant advocate for the needs of teachers across the region.  To put it bluntly I am in awe of Mary Beth Farrell’s ability, drive, and resourcefulness.  She is the heart and soul of our licensure program in History, and we simply could not get along without her."

Another colleague talks about the many emails Mary Beth receives from students who are now teaching in Mississippi middle and high schools, thanking her for being tough and making sure they had the skills they needed to be successful. And there are a lot of her former students out there making good. Her colleague continues:

"[A] testament to Mrs. Farrell’s achievement is just how many of Southern Miss’s licensure students get jobs after graduation—in the last few five years or so, the department has had a near perfect placement record. It is no exaggeration to say that Mrs. Farrell has helped to raise and train a decent percentage of the social studies teachers in the southern half of the state."

Congratulations, Ms. Farrell, on being named the 2015-16 Arts and Letters Instructor of the Year. The skills and values you've taught your students over the years are a legacy that will last for generations, and we look forward to meeting future Golden Eagle history majors who've been taught by the students you mentored.


Service Award

Andrew P. Haley

Department of History 

Andrew P. HaleyAndrew Haley is an Associate Professor in the Department of History whose specialties include class and culture in the United States from the Gilded Age through the 1950s, popular culture, gender, food, and nationalism. He has been with The University of Southern Mississippi since 2005.

Everyone knows that teaching and research are functions of being faculty, but one of the most commonly overlooked, yet vital and rewarding, aspects of working at a university is providing service to the department, the university, and the community. Andrew Haley has spent years doing all three.

Service begins in the department, and an important function of being a senior faculty member is mentoring junior faculty as they adjust to the demands of publishing, teaching, and a service load of their own. His junior colleagues appreciate the time he's spent with them. One junior colleague had this to say:

"Andrew is tremendously busy with his substantial commitments to the history department, College of Arts and Letters, and the university at large, yet he always makes time for others. I have witnessed him time and time again squeeze in a meeting with students, faculty, and administrators—even when he does not have any more room in his schedule. He genuinely cares about the wellbeing of faculty and students, especially those with little formal power. Perhaps this is why he served as the College of Arts and Letters representative on the Faculty Senate for six years (even before tenure), always committed to advocating for faculty and students…. In everything that Andrew does he gives 110% and always insists that all people be given an opportunity to be heard."

In addition to serving the history department, Andrew Haley has volunteered his time to teach community members at Osher Lifelong Learning, engaged students in service learning projects, organized teaching forums for new faculty, served for six years as a faculty senator, worked on the Student Success Committee to improve the lives and graduation rates of students, and served on countless college and university committees. Most recently, he is directing University Forum, which brings some of the finest thinkers and speakers in the country to Southern Miss to engage our students.

Another of his colleagues said this about Dr. Haley's service record: "I can think of no one who has served more and made such an impression all over campus as Dr. Andrew Haley. One look at the service section of his CV is proof positive of that. What is remarkable about Andrew’s exceptional record of service is that it comes from a person who is also an award-winning teacher and scholar."

Congratulations, Dr. Haley, on being the recipient of the 2015-16 Arts and Letters Service Award. Your commitment to your department, college, university, and community has made The University of Southern Mississippi a better place for students, faculty, and staff, and a better partner to our Hattiesburg community.


Junior Faculty Member of the Year

Joyce Inman

Department of English 

Joyce InmanJoyce Inman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and also serves as the Director of Composition. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of Southern Mississippi, and has been teaching in the English Department since 2008. 

Joyce's position as Director of Composition makes her responsible not only for our first year writers taking composition classes, but also for teaching and mentoring our corps of graduate instructors. She is a fierce advocate for student writers and a believer in helping them find their voice as emerging authors. One colleague said of Joyce:

"In her scholarship, her teaching, and her administrative work, Joyce is that rarest of faculty members: she never takes her eyes off of the students. She truly loves the classroom, loves the work that gets done there, and works always with the goal of improving the educational lives of those she serves. And perhaps because she is doing what she believes in, Joyce is, as anyone who has been in a room with her for five minutes knows, wonderful to be around: she is lively, witty, and warm, professional and collegial."

Her research is as impressive as her teaching and service. While working on her monograph, Legal Discourse, Conceptual Metaphors, and Basic Writing Programming: A Study of Ayers v. Fordice, Joyce has also been publishing in impressive journals. A colleague said:

"Joyce does an exceptional job combining teaching and research, modeling the ways in which outstanding teaching is in part facilitated by our efforts to stay engaged with the most current scholarship in the field. Given her tremendous service and administrative responsibilities, it is remarkable that she is not only able to stay on top of her own research, but has actually published peer-reviewed articles in the top two journals in her field."

Congratulations, Dr. Inman, on your being named Arts and Letters 2015-16 Junior Faculty Member of the Year. Your teaching, scholarship, service, administrative duties and exceptional collegiality make you, in the words of one of your colleagues, "a quintuple asset" to your college and the university.


Staff Member of the Year

Twillia Morgan

Arts and Letters Dean's Office

Twillia MorganTwillia Morgan graduated from Columbia High School, and started her career at Southern Miss in 1994 as an office manager in the university bookstore. The College of Arts and Letters was fortunate to be able to lure her away in 2002 to work for the Dean's Office as a "Records Specialist"—a job she still holds today, although now we call her Senior Assistant to the Dean for Academic Services. Her job is to navigate the complicated world of SOAR, major and minor degree requirements, and course substitutions.

Twillia, her colleagues widely report, "knows everything." Here's what one colleague had to say:

"As the office manager in a busy department, I would get tons of questions from faculty and students, only about three-quarters of which I had any hope of answering. For the rest, I'd say, 'Hold on just a sec; let me call Twillia.' Twillia answered all my questions with patience and a genuine desire to help me learn the ropes, and for that, I will always be grateful."

The faculty and administrators of Arts and Letters also count on Twillia. As one of the her faculty fans said:

"Quite frankly, the College of Arts and Letters would be hard-pressed to function without Ms. Morgan manning the helm of the college’s Student Services Center. Ms. Morgan oversees all of the vital paperwork necessary for undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Letters to matriculate and graduate. At this point, she has assisted thousands of students in their college careers. She is also invaluable to department chairs and faculty advisors throughout the college, assisting them whenever a student problem arises." 

Congratulations, Ms. Mogan! For your dedication to helping students, your encyclopedic knowledge of the paperwork and keystrokes it takes to make this university run, and your willing training of faculty and staff throughout the college, we are pleased to name you the 2015-16 Arts and Letters Staff Member of the Year.


Teacher of the Year

Susannah Ural

Department of History 

Susannah UralSusannah Ural is a Professor in the Department of History and has been with The University of Southern Mississippi since 2009. Her specialties include the U.S. Civil War era, U.S. War and Society, the American south, and nineteenth-century America.

A colleague in the history department said this about Susannah's teaching:

"I am amazed at the constant stream of undergraduate students who make their way to her office. She takes time in office hours to explain a missed point from lecture or to help a student prepare for an exam... Dr. Susannah Ural is one of the best teachers of historical writing I have ever known. She works with students on draft after draft to help them improve their prose...so by the end of the class they have improved their ability to compose essays and build historical arguments exponentially."

Want to hear that from a student's perspective? A history department alum had this to say:

"[Dr. Ural] taught me how to be a professional historian. As my advisor, she read countless conference proposals, conference papers, chapter drafts for my thesis, emails to potential future advisers, and eventually, personal statements for potential graduate schools. And in every case, she was a ruthless editor, encouraging me to keep working but also withholding her approval until she was sure I had reached my full potential.  While that criticism is never easy for a young graduate student to accept, that work earned me two major conference presentations, a chance to give a guest presentation at Holmes Community College, an opportunity to choose where I would earn my Ph.D., and most recently, this year’s Glover Moore Prize for the best master’s thesis on a Mississippi topic completed in 2014 or 2015.  While the achievements are ultimately mine, there is no doubt in my mind Dr. Ural’s dedication as my adviser provided me with the skills, connections, and motivation for those achievements."

In addition to being a tremendously enthusiastic and effective teacher, Susannah Ural serves as the Undergraduate Director for the history department, shepherding students through the program with hard work, dedication, and a strong belief in her students' potential to become the next generation of historians whose research will broaden our understanding of history.

Congratulations, Dr. Ural! As lucky as we are to have you at The University of Southern Mississippi, it is our students who benefit the most from your amazing teaching, and for that, we're proud to name you the 2015-16 Arts and Letters Teacher of the Year.