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The Excellence program is an opportunity to recognize individuals for their contributions to the university through teaching, scholarship, and service.

The selection of the Service Excellence Award recipients in based upon exceptional service provided to the department, college, and/or university. These awards were first given in 2024.

Each college of the university selects its excellence award recipients, who are recognized annually at the Faculty Awards Ceremony.

 ​2024 Scholarly Excellence Award Recipients 

Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

Dr. Erin Brown
Dr. Erin Brown

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

Dr. Kristin Bailey-Wallace
Dr. Kristin Bailey-Wallace

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
Dr. Sarah Stovall

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
Dr. Rachel Jumper

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
Dr. Claire Murphy

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
Dr. Ryan Phelps

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.”


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