Dr. Erin Brown

Dr. Erin Brown

Dr. Kristin Bailey-Wallace

Dr. Kristin Bailey-Wallace

Dr. Sarah Stovall

Dr. Sarah Stovall

Dr. Rachel Jumper

Dr. Rachel Jumper

Dr. Claire Murphy

Dr. Claire Murphy

Dr. Ryan Phelps

Dr. Ryan Phelps

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Six Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members recently were selected to receive the university’s inaugural Service Excellence Awards. 

Since 1994, SFA has recognized faculty contributions to teaching with the Teaching Excellence Award, with one recipient from each of the university’s six colleges and one nontenure track recipient from the Faculty Senate. This year, the program expanded to include the Scholarly Excellence and Service Excellence awards to complement the longstanding Teaching Excellence Award. 

The Service Excellence Award recognizes the voluntary activities performed by the faculty members who, usually behind the scenes, help the institution function as a first-rate post-secondary institution, said Dr. Christopher McKenna, associate professor of business communication and legal studies and 2022-23 Faculty Senate chair who helped generate the proposal for the new awards.

“The Service Excellence and Scholarship Excellence awards complement the traditional award that recognized teaching excellence,” McKenna said. “Service and scholarship have traditionally gone unrecognized at the university level, even though they represent half of the activities expected of faculty members. Not recognizing the exceptional performers in these areas while focusing solely on teaching excellence represented an oversight that ignored many critical contributions to the SFA community.”

Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

Dr. Erin Brown, a professor of agriculture and coordinator of SFA’s Beef Center, has been an educator at SFA since 2005. 

A native of Seguin, Brown has served in numerous service projects and volunteer activities, such as the university’s Purple Premium Cattle Sale, Breakfast at the Farm and cattle artificial insemination clinics. She has judged at livestock events, organized showmanship clinics and livestock skillathon camps, hosted service-learning opportunities for her courses, and served various roles with the Nacogdoches County Extension Office and Texas National FFA Organization.

Driven by a desire to share her passion for agriculture, Brown’s expertise and courses focus on beef cattle and nutrition. She prioritizes hands-on approaches and multiple courses with service-learning projects and courses with real-world situations in her curriculum. 

“What most excites me as an educator is to hear from former students,” Brown said. “The moments when you learn that all of the lessons finally connect for them — the ‘now I understand’ moments — is what makes this an exciting job.”

Brown also is a member of the Graduate Council, Core Curriculum Advisory Committee and Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee; serves as a College Day faculty participant; and recently served as interim chair of the Department of Agriculture. 

“Dr. Brown has a long-standing, demonstrable record of exemplary service to the profession, the Department of Agriculture, and the college,” said Dr. Hans Williams, dean of the college. “Her service to the beef cattle profession includes outreach through presentations and workshops on the latest technology and management innovations.”

College of Liberal and Applied Arts

Kristin Bailey-Wallace is an assistant professor and advisor, and she has held various roles in SFA's School of Social Work since 2009.

A Nacogdoches native, Bailey-Wallace has served rural Texas communities as a licensed baccalaureate social worker for 22 years, working in hospice and long-term residential care for older adults and people with disabilities before she transitioned to higher education.

Bailey-Wallace is active in leadership and service with local, state and national organizations. Since COVID-19, she has emphasized development and sustainability of the Student Association of Social Workers, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Nacogdoches and the National Rural Social Work Caucus.

“The Service Excellence Award resonates with the mission and vision statements for SFA, and I am fortunate to work in a program, school, college and university system that values and promotes excellence in service,” Bailey-Wallace said. “My service engagements are balanced with teaching and advising responsibilities, and it is a pleasure to connect Bachelor of Social Work students and colleagues with meaningful community partnerships and service-learning opportunities.”

Bailey-Wallace teaches courses throughout the BSW program with an emphasis on the social welfare policy sequence, human behavior, introduction to the profession, seminar field instruction and macro social work practice.

“Being an educator has given me opportunities to engage in research projects, teaching adventures and meaningful service interactions with the university and the rural community,” Bailey-Wallace said. “I enjoy collaborating with students and community partners for community service-learning opportunities.”

College of Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Sarah Stovall is a professor of mathematics and coordinator of administration in the college. 

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized for the Service Excellence Award,” Stovall said.

In her 24 years as an educator at SFA, Stovall’s excitement comes from seeing the spark of understanding when a student makes connections.

“Understanding is addictive. My classroom practice is less about teaching and more about coaching students to learn how to learn,” she said. “My goal is that when our students leave the university, they will not need a teacher because they know how to use resources, to read critically and to gauge their own understanding.”

Stovall, who grew up about 10 miles west of Nacogdoches in Alazan, realized education was her ideal career path six weeks into her first semester of teaching at SFA. While at SFA, she has taught liberal arts mathematics, courses to prepare elementary school teachers, college algebra, trigonometry, analytic geometry, precalculus, calculus one and two, a methods of proof class, linear algebra, abstract algebra, college geometry and number theory. 

Stovall earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from SFA in 1991, a Master of Arts in mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1995, and a doctoral degree in mathematics from Texas A&M University in 2001. 

James I. Perkins College of Education

Dr. Rachel Jumper, an associate professor in human development and family studies, has been an educator at SFA for nine years. 

A Nacogdoches native, Jumper serves on a number of committees at various levels. She’s a member of the University Graduate Council, program coordinator for the family sciences major and the human sciences master’s degree programs, board member for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Texas affiliate and the Texas Council on Family Relations, and former board member of the Court Appointed State Advocates of Deep East Texas.

“I’m excited, humbled and honored to have been chosen as the first recipient of this award from the Perkins College of Education,” Jumper said. “This award is very validating of the work and passion I have put into my time at SFA. I take a lot of pride in the work I do, and the service I engage in as part of my work is a large piece of where I spend my time and energy. Service benefits people in a very direct way, so I feel a deep sense of gratitude to have my service work acknowledged.”

According to Jumper, she has developed the fundamental goal of ensuring that students are introduced to relevant information in a way that fosters their internal motivation to learn. 

“One of the most effective tools I have found for encouraging this process is through service learning, where students experience the benefits of working in their local community,” Jumper said. “Students in the family science major study families throughout the lifespan, so service learning is an important part of our curriculum.”

Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts

Dr. Claire Murphy, an assistant professor and program coordinator of music education, has worked in the School of Music since 2019. She also serves on numerous committees from the departmental to university level.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award and represent the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, which is made up of incredibly hard-working, dedicated and supportive faculty, staff and administrators,” Murphy said. “Working to serve and support my students, the School of Music, our college and the university is an absolute joy and privilege.”

Murphy discovered her desire to teach after directing a children’s choir during her undergraduate studies. The experience offered a realization that music education was her calling and led to a career of teaching all levels from elementary school to higher education. 

A native of Farmville, North Carolina, Murphy specializes in music education and teacher preparation and teaches a variety of undergraduate music education, education and graduate music education courses. Murphy’s main focus is getting the students actively engaged in the learning process through creative instructional strategies and meaningful experiences.

“Working with pre-service teachers and helping them find their passion and joy for teaching and student success through music is what excites me most,” she said. “I enjoy being part of their music education journey and seeing what positive impacts they will make in the lives of their future students, in their classrooms and in music education.”

Nelson Rusche College of Business

Dr. Ryan Phelps is an associate professor of economics and finance and has been an educator at SFA since 2007.

A native of Oxford, Michigan, Phelps has played an integral role in services at the university and community levels. Along with raising external funds of more than $100,000 for various scholar programs, awards and reading groups, he has initiated student engagement programs, created study abroad opportunities and served as a board member for the Regional East Texas Health Network in Nacogdoches, among many other initiatives. 

“I am both humbled and encouraged by this recognition,” Phelps said. “I am humbled to have my efforts singled out because of all of the great things happening at the Rusche College of Business. Also, the most impressive initiatives that I have touched on required the efforts and talents of many others — faculty, staff, donors and students have all pitched in. Finally, none of it would matter without student buy-in. I want everyone who contributed to my recent service efforts to know that I am perpetually grateful for them.”

Phelps teaches macroeconomics and applied statistics courses, and he co-created and co-leads the Discovering Business Abroad course. In his time as an educator, he has learned the best results stem from student interest. 

“I am constantly trying to gauge students’ level of understanding,” Phelps said. “They often find this process annoying, but I am a big believer in learning through effort. Active learning and learning by doing loom large in my courses.”

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website