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USM Announces Selection of University Faculty Fellows

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 15:15pm

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has selected five esteemed faculty members in its inaugural class of University Faculty Fellows.

Drs. Westley “Lee” Follett (Associate Professor of History), Bridget Hayden (Professor of Anthropology), Iliyan Iliev (Assistant Professor of Political Science), Michael Madson (Professor of Psychology) and Emily Bullock Yowell (Professor of Psychology) were chosen as fellows by USM’s Council for Academic Excellence. The fellowships are two-year appointments with each receiving a total cash prize of $20,000. Each fellow was nominated by their peers and qualified for the honor by exemplifying the University’s ideals of Vision 2020 around collaboration and innovation through teaching, research and service.

“The University Faculty Fellowships are intended to recognize extraordinary faculty members who inspire students through their innovative and collaborative teaching and research,” USM Provost Steven Moser said. “They represent the ideal in Southern Miss faculty, contributing significantly to our culture of meaningful and relevant student experiences.”

Funded by the generosity of University alumni and friends through the USM Foundation’s annual fund, the Southern Miss Fund, these awards represent the finest in faculty effort within and across disciplinary boundaries. Each fellow represents the best of Southern Miss’ innovative, collaborative and service-oriented faculty.

“The five inaugural University Faculty Fellows were selected from a large group of nominees with extraordinary accomplishments and credentials, making selection of just five fellows a challenge,” USM Graduate School Dean and selection committee leader Karen Coats said. “However, their unique areas of research, broad contributions to our institutional mission and focus on student success set these faculty apart. Most importantly, their commitment to service, offered in myriad ways, and their collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to scholarship truly exemplify the ideals and spirit of Vision 2020.”

The goals of Vision 2020 are to promote collaborative and innovative disciplinary and multi-disciplinary work, highlight USM’s distinctive strengths, and enhance the University’s potential for market and recruitment. To be eligible, nominees could not have had an infusion of research funding through grants or retention programs.

The biographies of each fellow can be found here. Their research ranges from the career development of college students and adults and the impact those decisions have on mental health; various expressions of political behavior; college student use of alcohol and marijuana; late antique and early medieval religious history in Western Europe and pre-Norman Ireland; and aspects of representation, identity, and inter-group relations in a variety of diverse communities.

“The Council for Academic Excellence, who selected the University Faculty Fellows, had the pleasure of interviewing the finalists and hearing about their research and scholarship. Each one of them was so enthusiastic and engaging we wanted to take one of their classes to hear more,” Coats said. “The research interests of this group are incredibly diverse, and in all cases, highly collaborative and at the forefront of their field. They represent a broad range of academic experience—assistant professor to full professor. There is no question they represent the best of USM, and I am excited to know our students have the opportunity to learn from them.”

For more information on the application process for the University Faculty Fellows program, visit