Heidi Kelley Wins 2017 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award


The following news release was issued by the University of North Carolina:

UNC Board of Governors announces 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award Winners

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has selected some of the University’s most outstanding faculty to receive its 2017 Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The 17 recipients, who represent all 16 of North Carolina’s public universities and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, were nominated by special committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors’ Committee on Personnel and Tenure.

“We are truly proud of the high-quality education our institutions provide to students,” UNC Board of Governors Chair Lou Bissette said. “The instructors we recognize as the 2017 Excellence in Teaching winners are innovative and creative in their teaching approaches and are making a real difference in student learning.”

Each of the winners will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize. Awards will be presented by a Board of Governors member during each campus’ spring graduation ceremony.

The 2017 winners are:

  • Tracy Wilson Smith, professor and assistant chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Appalachian State University;
  • Patricia A. Clark, professor, School of Theatre and Dance, East Carolina University;
  • Glen Clarence Bowman Jr., professor of history, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, East Carolina University;
  • Emily Lenning, associate professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Fayetteville State University;
  • Lisa A. Owens-Jackson, associate professor, Department of Accounting and Finance, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University;
  • S. Charmaine McKissick-Melton, associate professor, Department of Mass Communication, North Carolina Central University;
  • Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, professor, Department of Chemistry and Science, North Carolina State University;
  • Heidi Kelley, professor of sociology and anthropology, University of North Carolina at Asheville;
  • Jane Thrailkill, associate professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  • Matthew Davies, professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Engineering Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte;
  • Sharon Morrison, associate professor of public health education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro;
  • Cherry Maynor Beasley, professor of nursing, University of North Carolina at Pembroke;
  • Joseph Mills, professor in the humanities, Division of Liberal Arts, University of North Carolina School of the Arts;
  • Caroline M. Clements, professor of psychology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington;
  • Julie Johnson-Busbin, professor, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sports Management, and Hospitality & Tourism School, College of Business, Western Carolina University;
  • Donna Gwyn Wiggins, associate professor, Department of Music, Winston-Salem State University;
  • and Robert R. Gotwals Jr., instructor of chemistry, science department, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

Short biographies and photos of all 17 award recipients are available on the UNC system website

Heidi Kelley

Heidi Kelley, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, has worked at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for 27 years. Her teaching philosophy brings together the scholarship of social anthropology with the lived experience of her students. Dr. Kelley strives to help students to see the world from another’s point of view, to learn to see how their own values and life choices are in fact culturally situated. Students are invited to not only understand their own positions relative to others, but to understand what she describes as “a different way of being in the world.”

Understanding lived experience is central to anthropology, and Dr. Kelley has drawn from her own life to inform and deepen her approach to teaching. In 1998 she suffered a massive stroke that initially left her speechless and unable to walk, but was able to return to work following intensive therapy. Rather than allow challenges of speech and mobility to impair her work in the classroom, Dr. Kelley has managed to turn these apparent limitations to her students’ benefit.

For many years, best practices in pedagogy have emphasized the need for more student-centered learning. As Donald L. Finkel (Teaching with Your Mouth Shut 2000), reminds us, teachers who engage through listening are often more effective than those who work primarily by telling. Dr. Kelley has built on this philosophy to develop an approach that allows students to “discover their knowledge for themselves.” Her excellence as a teacher stems in part from her careful design of assignments and experiences help students discover learning for themselves. Her classroom is a space where students learn to think and question in genuine ways about their lives and the lives of others.

Dr. Kelley’s impact extends beyond the scope of the classroom. As a faculty fellow of The Key Center for Service Learning, she offers regular partnerships between her students and the broader Asheville community. In 2013, she was a key participant in a community collaboration that brought together undergraduates with a local neighborhood in a series of forums and reading circles designed to prepare for Cornell West’s visit to our campus. Her scholarship further reflects how her work bridges the global and the local. Articles such as Teaching Galicia in Appalachia: Lessons from Anthropology, Ethnographic Poetry, Documentary Photography and Political Theory draw from her continuing fieldwork in Spain to demonstrate not only her interest in global intersections, but also her creative incorporation of poetry and photography in her teaching.

Dr. Heidi Kelley graduated with a BA from Lawrence University (1979) and earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington (1988).