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Three Earn 2006 SU Distinguished Faculty Awards

SALISBURY, MD---A professor dedicated to student fundraising for the community, a chair who helped lead a program in her department to landmark accreditation and the executive director of a campus outreach organization whose effects are felt worldwide are this year’s recipients of the Salisbury University Distinguished Faculty Award.

The 2006 awards go to Dr. Debbie Easterling of Management; Dr. Susan Muller of Health, Physical Education and Human Performance; and Dr. Brian Polkinghorn of Sociology.

Coming to SU in 2001 as an associate professor of marketing in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, Easterling promotes community services as well as marketing fundamentals in all her classes. Each year her student marketing projects raise money for local non-profit organizations, emulating the way real fund-raisers work in the corporate world. During the past four years, her classes have donated hundreds of dollars to groups including the West Salisbury Youth Club, Wicomico Mentoring Project and Character Counts!

Easterling emulates that community service by taking on many volunteer roles both on and off campus. She teaches yoga at several community centers and has served on several community boards in Chincoteague, VA. Among her service at SU, she is the advisor of the student chapter of the American Marketing Association, has served on the Undergraduate Research and University Curriculum committees, and has chaired the Undergraduate Programs Committee.

In 2004, she was named the American Marketing Association’s Faculty Advisor of the Year during a national ceremony in New Orleans. Academically, Easterling has published many journal articles and has presented at conferences on subjects as varied as multimedia, service learning and social commitment.

“Three words come to mind in describing Dr. Debbie Easterling: ‘high quality professional,’” said Dr. William Moore, dean of the Perdue School. “She is excellent in the classroom, with an enviable passion for teaching and helping students to learn. Dr. Easterling continues to be a dedicated and accomplished scholar, and gives tireless service to both Salisbury University and outside communities.  She is truly a role model and well deserving of this award.”

Earlier this year, Muller, chair of the Health, Physical Education and Human Performance Department, led efforts that resulted in SU’s Exercise Science program become the first accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. She also served on the continuing education team that helped the Education Department earn re-accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. She has developed three new programs at SU: majors in exercise science and health education, and a master’s in applied health physiology.

Academically, Muller has co-authored numerous journal articles and textbook chapters, and presented at conferences including the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and the American Public Health Association.

“Dr. Muller’s contributions in the area of professional development are significant,” said Dr. Dennis Pataniczek, dean of the Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies. “Her list of publications in refereed journals is impressive, and she maintains an active research agenda, both individual and collaboratively with colleagues both here at SU and at other institutions. She has also encouraged her students to be researchers, and she serves as an excellent role model in that regard.”

Each semester, Muller advises more than 100 students. She has an open-door policy for students and colleagues. In addition, she encourages students to participate in community service. She leads by example in this area, volunteering with the annual Sea Gull Century bike ride and Eastern Shore Senior Games, among others.

Polkinghorn, who came to SU in 2000, is an associate professor of conflict analysis and dispute resolution and Executive Director of SU’s Center for Conflict Resolution.  He has brought some of the world’s most notable leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, to campus as part of his “One Person Can Make a Difference” lecture series. In return, Polkinghorn has sent some of his best students all over the world to study and help resolve conflicts in countries including Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, India, Australia and Indonesia.

He has written program and research grants raising well over $1 million, some of which have been used for such things as sponsoring distinguished lecturers and hosting two conferences on conflict resolution-one national, the other international in scope-on the Delmarva Peninsula. In the past five years he has developed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in conflict resolution at SU, making it one of the few institutions in the United States to offer both.

In addition, he has published numerous  peer reviewed journal articles and nationally recognized awarding winning research reports, presented at many conferences and served as a member of several professional organizations including co-Chair the Florida Bar Grievance Mediation and Arbitration Committee, board member for the Maryland Court of Appeals Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office and the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington, D.C., as well as the Conflict Resolution Quarterly editorial board.

“Dr. Polkinghorn is an intellectual and organizational dynamo of seemingly unbounded energy and initiative,” said Dr. Timothy O’Rourke, dean of the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “I have found him to be a genuinely warm and engaging colleague with ties to many disciplines across campus. He is a person of immense good will. He has exerted a profound impact, for the better, on the campus and the community, and enjoys a well-earned national reputation for scholarship, teaching and pioneering curricular development in the field of conflict resolution.”

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