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Bridgewater College Celebrates Founder's Day on April 4

March 21, 2017

Photo of McKinney Sundial

Bridgewater College will celebrate 137 years of its founding on Tuesday, April 4, presenting three awards during the 11 a.m. convocation in Nininger Hall.

President David W. Bushman will recognize three faculty members for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Dr. Jean Hawk, Professor of Education and Director of the Teacher Education Program, will receive the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teacher Award; Dr. Joseph M. Crockett, Professor of Chemistry and the A. Leroy and Wanda H. Baker Chair of Science, will receive the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award; and Dr. Scott H. Suter, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, will receive the Faculty Scholarship Award.

The Founder’s Day observance at Bridgewater commemorates the April 3, 1854, birth of Daniel Christian Flory who, at the age of 26, began a new school at Spring Creek in Rockingham County in 1880. The school, first known as Spring Creek Normal School, moved to Bridgewater two years later and changed its name to Bridgewater College on July 12, 1889.

The College’s observance of Founder’s Day began in 1920.

About the honorees:

Dr. Jean Hawk Dr. Jean Hawk

Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award

Dr. Jean Hawk has been teaching nearly her entire life—ever since childhood, when she was called upon in junior high school to fill in for Sunday School or Bible school teachers at her church. She said it was this early contact with teaching in church that led her to pursue a career in education, and that it has been one with its share of surprises.

Dr. Hawk, who is a native of rural southern Ohio, earned her bachelor’s degree from Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, her master’s from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and her doctorate from George Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Along the way she was an elementary-school teacher in such diverse places as Timberville, Va., Nashville, Tenn. and South Bend, Ind. Her first collegiate teaching job was at Eastern Mennonite University as an Associate Professor of Education.

“So, for the past 44 years, I have been—first and foremost—a teacher,” said Dr. Hawk. “I contend that my years in the elementary classroom and as Program Director for Integration Programs may have contributed as much to my college teaching as the excellent doctoral program at George Peabody College for teachers; my teaching experiences in rural, urban, low-income and middle class settings still enrich my preparation and presentation in the college classroom.”

A scholar of and proponent for diversity, Dr. Hawk has served as an advocate for minority populations for the past 44 years. She has been involved in efforts on campus to bring a more diverse staff, student body and faculty to Bridgewater College. She frequently presents on issues of diversity and teacher preparation.

At Bridgewater, Dr. Hawk encourages her teacher candidates to take risks, try and fail, and explore. She reminds everyone that teaching is messy—it doesn’t always follow prescribed pathways. It is important to hold high expectations for our students and ourselves. She’s mastered the ability to tell hard truths with a smile.

Dr. Hawk said she loves teaching at Bridgewater, and can’t think of a higher honor than to be recognized for teaching.

The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award is conferred annually upon the Bridgewater College classroom teacher who has demonstrated outstanding classroom teaching performance, the encouragement of which was a priority of Dr. Wade during his tenure (1979-85) as Bridgewater’s Executive Assistant to the President, Provost and Professor of Religion.

Photo of Dr. Crockett Dr. Joseph M. Crockett

Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award

The Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award was created to recognize annually one full-time faculty member “based on his or her classroom teaching and advising of students.” This year, that faculty member is one of Bridgewater’s most recognizable faculty members—Chemistry Professor Dr. Joseph M. Crockett.

Dr. Crockett, who has held the A. Leroy and Wanda H. Baker Professor of Science chair since 2015, came to Bridgewater as an Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1985. A native of Welch, W.Va., he earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Hampden-Sydney College and his doctorate in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Crockett said his style of teaching is, frequently, to answer a question with a question rather than to give a straight answer. This, he said, motivates students to think about a problem and its solution rather than to simply expect a spoon-fed response.

“I believe that any student can learn any material,” said Dr. Crockett. “Some may take longer than others and some may require more effort on their part. This last group is the one that will need more of my help, and I try to give them the time they need.”

Dr. Crockett began his teaching career in 1977 as a lecturer in organic chemistry at Tulane University. In addition to Tulane and Bridgewater, he has also taught at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

While at Bridgewater, Dr. Crockett has participated in the 2008 Habitat for Humanity’s Alternative Spring Break Challenge to Sumter, S.C., served from 2012 to the present as faculty adviser to the college wrestling club, worked on the Campus Safety Committee, served as chemical safety officer from 1996 to 2016, headed the Department of Chemistry as chair from 2000 to 2013, and served on numerous campus committees.

Dr. Crockett is a member of the American Chemical Society’s national committee on chemical safety, having led the 1,500-member local section twice as chair. In 2015 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Section of the American Chemical Society, which was the highest award given by the section.

Dr. Crockett has published and presented extensively, and is active in the community, as well. He is a member of the Bridgewater Presbyterian Church where he has served as elder, choir director, church pianist, choir member, chair of the pastor nominating committee and campus ministry program and recording treasurer.

He is also a member of the Harrisonburg Harmonizers, the Vintage Mix quartet and the Asbury United Methodist Church men’s ensemble. Dr. Crockett also umpired Bridgewater Little League tournaments for 30 years; he is still active as a scorekeeper and matchmaker in local high-school wrestling tournaments.

Dr. Crockett and his wife, Jane, have three children and three grandchildren.

Photo of Dr. Suter Dr. Scott H. Suter

Faculty Scholarship Award

If you’re surprised at the eclectic nature of Dr. Scott H. Suter’s CV, that’s okay. Dr. Suter admits his scholarship interests are far reaching and wide ranging. He has written and lectured on topics that include gas station design, horizontal log construction, Southern literature, World War I humor, amateur baseball leagues, the work of David Lynch, folklife, foodways, traditional pottery, cabinetmaking, historical photographs and postcards, to name a few.

“Similarly, depending on the work, my scholarship is targeted at a variety of audiences, both popular and scholarly,” said Dr. Suter, who is an Associate Professor of English and American Studies, and Chair of the Department of English. “I like to think, though, that anyone could enjoy and learn from my writings and presentations.”

And yet, despite the kaleidoscopic nature of his interests, they are all rooted in American culture.

“My interdisciplinary interests have produced a disparate array of publications and conference papers,” said Dr. Suter. “However, each is bound together by the overarching link of American Studies, which includes literature, history, folklife, and material culture studies – all areas in which I have produced scholarly work.”

Suter, who earned his doctorate in American Civilization from The George Washington University in 1994, also noted that his research informs his teaching and enriches the classroom experience for Bridgewater College students. He said invitations to write for scholarly publications and to participate in seminars in American Literature and American Studies contribute to and challenge his understanding of these fields, and enhance his teaching.

“Without continued research, writing and professional development, teaching becomes stale and boring, two characteristics that I endeavor to avoid,” he said.

Dr. Suter, who is a native of Rockingham County, Va., also holds a master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in English from James Madison University. His graduate work at GWU focused on American folklife and Material Culture Studies.

In 1996, Dr. Suter was selected as a Senior Fulbright Scholar and taught American Studies and American Literature at Prešov University in the Slovak Republic. He has also been an Adjunct Assistant Professor in both the English and Anthropology departments at James Madison University.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Suter was curator of the Shenandoah Valley Folk Art and Heritage Center and has served as a consultant to museums including the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the Blue Ridge Institute, as well as to the Virginia Commission for the Arts.  In 1999, the University Press of Mississippi published his Shenandoah Valley Folklife, an introduction to the traditions of the region.

Additionally, he has published numerous books, exhibition catalogs, journal articles and book chapters. His study of the life and work of the 19th century Shenandoah Valley folk potter Emanuel Suter is currently under contract with the University of Tennessee Press. He lives in Spring Creek, Va.

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