“Total shock” were the first words out of Robin West Smith’s mouth when asked about winning the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award.
The professor of Sociology cannot believe she was the recipient of the prestigious award. Nominations are put in by students and staff. The winner is decided by a committee made up of faculty, support staff, administrators, and students, as explained by the award’s presenter, Grace Yackee, vice president of Instruction.
The award also includes a cash stipend that can be put toward a professional development event or activity of the recipient’s choice and a place on a commemorative plaque in the A-Building.
As Smith admitted, when she was announced, both she and her husband looked at each other in shock. As she took the stage, she was visibly trying to not be overcome by the whirlwind of emotions.
“I took almost everything to stop crying,” she said. “I am a very emotional person.”
This isn’t the first time she’s been nominated, however.
“I got nominated last year,” she said, “and I thought it was kind of shocking to be a first-year teacher and to get a nomination. But this year I literally did not expect because there are so many people in the field.”
There were 27 other nominees for the award.
“You have so many students cross your path in a classroom,” Smith said, “and at the end of the semester you wonder, ‘Did I touch any of them?’
“Obviously, I must have, because they nominated me!”
“It was well-deserved,” said Smith’s boss, Paul Hedeen, dean of Humanities/Social Sciences. “Robin West Smith is a wonderful faculty member; cares so much about her subject, cares so much about her students and their success. She’s truly called to her subject and to being a professor of Sociology. I’m very proud of her. I’m glad to see she’s getting an award.”
Caring about her students has proven worthwhile, as Smith explained.
“This one student e-mailed me when I lost my sister-in-law a couple weeks ago,” she said. “She told me about what I have done for her, and how I’ve become a role model for her, not just as a professor but as a woman as well.”