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award winners
Paul Schrodt, Lea McCracken and Sh'Niqua Alford

TCU is proud to announce the 2023 winners of significant university awards for scholarship, mentoring and teaching: the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement, the Wassenich Award for Mentoring, and the Maryrose and Dan Short Award for Teaching Excellence.

The winners of these prestigious honors were recognized at exclusive events this past week.

Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement

The winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar is Paul Schrodt, the Philip J. & Cheryl C. Burguières Professor in Communication Studies in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication.

“Through his thorough integration of original-source research in the classroom and his engagement of students with research work, his teaching activities vivify the teacher-scholar model,” wrote his colleague. “The long list of students who name Dr. Schrodt as one of their favorite and most influential professors demonstrates the impact and innovative character of his teaching … and there is no question that his scholarly activity is of such importance and quality that he is considered one of the best and brightest scholars in the communication discipline.”

Schrodt’s research on family and interpersonal communication has appeared in more than 125 journal articles and book chapters and has been featured in national outlets like The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He is a three-time nominee for the Chancellor’s Award and this year also was named Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor in Schieffer College.

The Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement recognizes extraordinary creative teaching and scholarship, and the winner receives $25,000. Nominations are submitted to academic deans who provide recommendations to the chancellor. Finalists were recognized at the Welcome & Opening Luncheon and each receive $2,500.

Wassenich Award

The winner of the Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community is Lea McCracken, associate chaplain and church relations officer in the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life.

“Lea is incredibly passionate and outspoken, yet she has formed friendships and mentor relationships with people from diverse socioeconomic, racial, political and faith backgrounds,” wrote her nominator. “Her ability to connect with and support individuals from different walks of life is a testament to her ability to live out her beliefs and values in a practical way.”

In her job, McCracken oversees interfaith initiatives and the Religious Advisory Council, as well as the meaning, purpose and belonging programs. She also leads three spiritual support groups and collaborates with Student Affairs on values, spiritual wellness and discernment workshops.

This award was established by Mark and Linda Wassenich to celebrate TCU’s defining characteristic of mentoring for many generations. Alumni and students may nominate faculty and staff members who serve as role models, advisors and guides to students. Finalists receive $750 and were acknowledged at the opening luncheon. The winner is chosen from a committee of primarily faculty and staff and receives $3,000.

Maryrose and Dan Short Award

The winner of the Maryrose and Dan Short Award for Teaching Excellence is Sh’Niqua Alford, assistant professor of professional practice and director of the bachelor of social work program in the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

“Based on student and peer evaluations of her teaching, it is evident that Professor Alford is a lifelong learner and exhibits a strong desire for continued course improvement, has a strong knowledge of course content and the ability to build rapport with her students,” wrote her colleague. “She demonstrates a commitment to make each student feel like they belong in the program, and she supports their progress from beginning to graduation, preparing them with knowledge and skills to be effective social workers.”

Among her accomplishments, Alford successfully developed – and continues to develop – study abroad opportunities in social work and has implemented interprofessional education activities in her Harris College course work. She maintains her license as a clinical social worker and has completed trauma-specific education.

The Maryrose and Dan Short Award recognizes excellence in teaching and is specifically focused on exceptional untenured (tenure-track or non-tenure track), full-time faculty members with five years or less at TCU. Nominations from colleges and schools are submitted to academic deans who select the top candidates to submit to the provost for final selection. This award was established by Dan Short, former dean of the Neeley School of Business, in memory of his wife, Maryrose Short. The award carries a special significance and award this year, as Dan Short passed away March 1. Before his passing, he made a gift that will increase this year’s commemorative award to $10,000. Part of the award is to be used for professional development. The finalists were recognized at the opening luncheon.

All winners will be featured in upcoming videos throughout the fall.

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