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BC to Celebrate 2013 Founder's Day on April 2

Bridgewater College will celebrate the 133 years since its founding on Tuesday, April 2, presenting three awards during the 11 a.m. Founder’s Day Convocation in the Carter Center for Worship and Music.

Interim President Roy W. Ferguson Jr. will recognize three faculty members for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Holly Caldwell Ratwani, associate professor of business administration, will receive the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award; Dr. Randall C. Young, associate professor of psychology, will receive the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award; and Dr. Lori A. Ganno-Overway, associate professor of health and exercise science, will receive the Faculty Scholarship Award.

The Founder’s Day observance at Bridgewater commemorates the April 3, 1854, birth of Daniel C. Flory, who at age 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.

About the honorees:

Holly Caldwell Ratwani

The Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award, established in 1990, honors faculty who “provide caring concern for students well beyond the role as teacher.” That perfectly describes the recipient of this year’s award, Professor Holly Caldwell Ratwani, a 1999 alumna of Bridgewater College and associate professor of business administration.

“My teaching philosophy encourages students to be passionate about the field of accounting and to highlight the benefits gained by being financially literate,” said Ratwani, who was hired at Bridgewater in 2002 as an adjunct instructor. “I hope my passion in the field inspires my students to take a more active role in their education.”

She said she truly believes that a professor’s job extends outside of the classroom – an ethic that makes her an active participant in guiding students into job placement in either the public or private accounting fields after graduation. She said she was deeply touched by a heart-felt thank-you note she received from a student, and described her favorite moments in teaching as “the light-bulb moments” – those when she knows the students are starting to understand the material.

After Ratwani’s own graduation from Bridgewater with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, she attended graduate school at Virginia Tech and obtained a master of accountancy in taxation. She is also licensed in Virginia as a certified public accountant and completed her M.B.A. from the University of Maryland University College in 2006. One of her personal goals is to become a certified forensic accountant – a growing field that uncovers, investigates and attempts to eliminate fraud, along with increasing oversight and transparency of financial statements.

In addition to teaching, developing curriculum and teaching strategies, mentoring students and setting up job interviews for accounting students, Ratwani has served on many committees at Bridgewater and is currently the chair of the department of economics and business administration.
Randall C. Young

Getting students interested – and making them interesting – are primary teaching goals for Dr. Randall C. Young, the 2013 recipient of the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award.

“My basic approach to teaching is to get students involved in active discussions, to develop their thinking and writing skills, to show them the generalizability of the material and to inspire them through my own enthusiasm with the material,” said Young, who is an associate professor of psychology at Bridgewater.

Young said that, in order to achieve these goals, he has crafted a specific teaching philosophy that is centered on three principles: to foster the students’ intrinsic motivation for the course material, to develop and enhance the students’ ability to look at information critically and empirically, and to connect the material of the course to students’ lives as young adults in a liberal arts environment.

Intrinsically motivated students, he said, make everyone’s educational experience better. He said he believes that a student who is interested in the material for the material’s sake gets much more out of a class (and an education) than a student who is only interested in getting an A.

“I have found that the best way to make the students interested is to make as many connections between the course material and their own lives as possible," said Young. “To this end, I work hard on developing examples from my life that I can give as prompts to the students. Then, I try to ask as many questions as possible to elicit student participation and connections.”

Young – who noted that he has known all his life he wanted a profession that challenged him – earned his bachelor’s degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, his master’s from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He was hired at Bridgewater in the fall of 2001 and was awarded tenure in 2006.

Young’s receipt of the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award at Bridgewater College upholds the standard of excellence honored by Bridgewater alumni Ben and Janice Wade, who established the award in 1998 to recognize excellence in classroom teaching. Dr. Ben Wade taught religion and served as executive assistant to the president and provost at Bridgewater from 1979-85.

Lori A. Gano-Overway

For Dr. Lori Gano-Overway, scholarship is about answering questions that may help others.

“As a college student, an athlete and a practitioner – that is, a former human resource manager, former coach and current faculty member – I have always been curious about what motivates people to strive for excellence and how practitioners can motivate others and help them develop life skills,” said Gano-Overway, an associate professor of health and human sciences at Bridgewater. “Therefore, I see the purpose of my scholarship as a way to help myself and others become better teachers and coaches.”

This, she pointed out, is why she has explored the climate that coaches and teachers create that can motivate others. Additionally, through her experiences in sport, she recognizes that time spent in sport and physical education can be a powerful tool to help young people develop important life skills.

“Therefore, I have also been keenly interested in exploring how teachers and coaches create positive experiences for their students and athletes,” said Gano-Overway. “I hope that, in some small way, this type of research will help them develop more effective ways to motivate others and create positive experience for others.”

In fact, her research has helped build evidence for the usefulness of creating a climate that focuses on recognizing effort and improvement, learning from one's mistakes and being kind and respectful to others.

Gano-Overway said she also feels that collaboration is vital to scholarship.

“I have grown so much as a scholar by working with and learning from other scholars in our field,” she said. “For the past 10 years I have worked with the Achievement Motivation Research Group, in which we meet annually to share our current research project ideas, provide feedback and work collaboratively on research projects and applied projects.”

Gano-Overway, who is a native of Michigan, graduated from Hope College in Holland, Mich., in 1991, and earned her master’s degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies with an emphasis in sport and exercise psychology in 1995 from Purdue University.

In 2001 she earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University, focusing on the psychological aspects of physical activity. A prolific researcher, writer and presenter who is also active in both her professional field and local community, Gano-Overway has taught at Bridgewater since 2003 and, in 2011, was presented the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award.

Posted 3/22/13

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