USC Aiken Comm Prof Awarded Teaching Honor

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AIKEN, SC (10/25/2018) The Carolinas Communication Association recently awarded the Lloyd Rohler Career Teaching Award to Dr. Charmaine Wilson, chair of the University of South Carolina Aiken Department of Communication.

According to the association, this award recognizes Carolinas Communication members who have "consistently demonstrated excellence in teaching communication throughout their academic careers."

Wilson is a longtime member of the organization and served as its president at one time. She has taught at USC Aiken for the last 27 years and has served as the department chair for the last four years.

"It is difficult to put in a single letter the evidence that makes her worthy of this prestigious award," wrote Dr. Jason Munsell in the nominating package.

"Dr. Wilson readily identifies with students and students with her."

She was a first generation college student, and, like a lot of current USC Aiken students, didn't know much about succeeding in college and she knew even less about higher education and advanced degrees. As a result, Wilson "muddled through" and eventually found her way.

"She says she always tries to help students avoid any unnecessary muddling as she guides them to develop a vision for their future and a pathway to getting there," shared Munsell, a professor in the USC Aiken Communication Department.

"Additionally, Dr. Wilson works very hard to make the classroom a good, innovative learning experience. She is always prepared and enthusiastic. She is amazingly responsive to students and always in her office ready to help. Her assignments are always detailed as she has very high expectations. And she always treats her students with kindness, fairness, and empathy. Moreover, she is a model of communication competence as she exhibits those skills she invites her students to learn."

When Wilson started college she was certain she wanted to be a journalist, but after her first semester, she wasn't so sure. She found herself taking a class called interpersonal communication and loved it. At that point, she knew little about the discipline of what was then called speech communication but was fascinated by the topic and hooked.

Her passion for the subject deepens as she continually explores ways to improve her teaching methods and enhance the experiences of communication students.

"USC Aiken is noted for its diverse student population, which includes socioeconomic, racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity," said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor. "Highly diverse institutional populations offer special challenges to even the most experienced college instructors.

"It requires a willingness to modify 'tried and true' lesson plans to reach a variety of learning styles, motivations, and abilities. Dr. Wilson's commitment getting to know her students allows her to individualize instruction and encourage student persistence."

Wilson developed an enriching senior capstone class, which has been credited with a high rate of students finding work directly after graduation.

"The skills Dr. Wilson consistently demonstrated throughout my path toward my communication degree is why I have the job I love today," said USC Aiken alumna Brittany Kibler, who has had three attractive job offers in her field since she graduated in May.

"It is the reason why I have the opportunities I do today. She thought me how to get where I wanted to go and how to get there using communication."

In her group communication class, Wilson uses service-learning and in her fall 2017 course her students created marketing videos for a local Aiken non-profit. Wilson also regularly gives workshops on campus to other faculty who want to do service-learning or other high impact pedagogical strategies.

"Dr. Wilson is indeed a high impact teacher," Munsell, who currently serves as the president of the Southern States Communication Association said. "And students love her.

"I consistently see Facebook comments from alumni about their love and respect for Dr. Wilson. I often see on social media alumni thanking Dr. Wilson for being a mentor or for something they learned. Her student evaluations are always amazingly positive and very much above the average at USCA. She is also an excellent advisor and that's an important part of our teaching."

Wilson initiated Communication Realties, activities during which several community leaders chat with students who move from table to table to learn from the guests about communication in his/her work and professional life. The event typically draws about 35 - 40 attendees each semester with some local big wigs, including the mayor of Aiken.

In addition to those events, she also offers workshops to other faculty not just on high impact teaching strategies, but on things like, "The Complicated Process of Student-Teacher Communication."

"I knew Lloyd Rohler and cannot help but think he would support the choice for this year's award," Munsell, a former president of the Carolinas Communication Association, told the selection committee.

"I simply cannot think of anyone more qualified to be selected for this prestigious award."