UA Little Rock honors Faculty Excellence winners

July 17-23, 2023

By Angelita Faller


The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has honored Drs. Robert Lytle, Rebecca Glazier, Stephen Grace, Mark Baillie, and John Kirk as the winners of the 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards.


Lytle, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, won the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, sponsored by the Bailey Family. Glazier, professor in the School of Public Affairs, has won the Faculty Excellence Award in Research and Creative Endeavors, sponsored by Dr. Jaafer Golzar and family, while Grace, associate professor of biology, received the Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service.


With the addition of two new awards this year, UA Little Rock also honored Dr. Mark Baillie, assistant professor of chemistry, as the inaugural recipient of the Rising Faculty Excellence Award, sponsored by the Bowen Family, as well as Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History, as the recipient of the first Faculty Excellence Award in Social Justice, sponsored by Just Communities of Arkansas.


“Our winners’ dedication to scholarship, teaching, research, public service, and social justice has made a profound impact on our institution and the broader academic community,” Provost Ann Bain said. “They have demonstrated a commitment to excellence that inspires us all and sets a high standard for future generations of educators. On behalf of the university, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you for embodying the spirit of excellence that defines our institution.”


Created in 1989, the Faculty Excellence Awards has provided a way to recognize the great work of UA Little Rock faculty for the past 34 years. This is the highest honor UA Little Rock awards its faculty members with each winner receiving a $5,000 prize. The UA Little Rock Board of Visitors selected the university-wide winners from a pool of nominations from each college and the William H. Bowen School of Law. 


Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching


Dr. Robert “Bob” Lytle is an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, as well as the graduate coordinator for the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Lytle has been praised by students and colleagues for his dedication to students and his passion in the classroom.


Lytle has chaired thesis committees for five students and served as a reader on six additional thesis projects while at UA Little Rock. He is currently serving as chair on six dissertation committees and as a reader on 14 additional dissertations.


Since 2016, Lytle has published 14 peer reviewed articles, with four of these articles being written in conjunction with students. This shows his dedication in teaching as well as mentoring students in their own research. To culminate, Lytle is currently the co-principal investigator on four external grants and contracts totaling over $1 million. This provides undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to actively engage in research projects that would not be available without Lytle’s dedication to teaching and student success through classroom instruction and research outside the classroom.


Faculty Excellence Award for Research and Creative Endeavors


Dr. Rebecca Glazier, a professor in the School of Public Affairs, is known for her research on religion and politics, as well as pedagogical research in higher education.


Glazier is praised for the Little Rock Congregations Study (LRCS) she founded 11 years, which serves as a longitudinal study of religion with goals of improving the understanding of the impact of faith-based community engagement, getting students out of the classroom and into the community to learn and give back, and providing relevant and meaningful findings and resources to the community. 


Glazier is also highly committed to the scholarship of teaching and to learning how to improve teaching from students. She has published seven peer-reviewed articles and three book chapters on building rapport in the classroom, along with the book “Connecting in the Online Classroom: Building Rapport between Teachers and Students” with Johns Hopkins University Press (2021). This has made her very influential in the pedagogical circles in higher education. Over the last five years, Glazier has published 20 peer-reviewed articles, three book chapters, and one-solo authored book with several additional pieces of work on the way.


Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service


Dr. Stephen Grace, an associate professor of biology at UA Little Rock, is a plant physiologist specializing in plant biochemistry and is a founding director of the UA Little Rock Campus Garden.


The Campus Garden was founded in 2013 with the intent to bring together students, staff, faculty, and community members who share an interest in sustainability and gardening. The primary mission of the garden is to create a viable urban farm that provides fresh local food to organizations and individuals and to create an educational facility on urban land use, food studies, and sustainable agriculture for students, faculty, staff, and community members.


As director, Grace oversees service, teaching, and outreach activities, coordinates food delivery to food banks and other organizations, and serves as faculty advisor for the Campus Garden Alliance. The success of the garden has also created several partnerships with internal and external organizations, including the Trojan Food Pantry, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light, University District, Full Circle FarmsCorps, the Root Cafe, River Valley Horticultural Products, and Arkansas Grown.


Faculty Excellence Award for Rising Faculty


Dr. Mark Baillie, an assistant professor of chemistry, has been praised for his teaching, service, research, and scholarship. He has focused much of his career on the science of teaching. He led an interdisciplinary team that was awarded a prestigious $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to promote active learning in STEM classrooms at the university.


Baillie brought expertise from the National Institute on Scientific Teaching and has provided Mobile Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI) workshops to UA Little Rock. The focus of these workshops is fostering a more engaging learning environment for students through the use of evidence-based practices and active learning. Over the past four years, he has trained more than 125 faculty members and graduate students. 


Baillie also co-founded the university’s first Learning Assistant program in the Department of Chemistry. This program uses students to serve as peer mentors and active learning collaborators. The successful program has been replicated in other units across campus.


Faculty Excellence Award for Social Justice


Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History, is an internationally recognized scholar of the civil rights movement who has worked continually over the years to help the public understand the struggle for social justice.


Kirk played a key role in establishing the minor in race and ethnicity at UA Little Rock. Students have praised his courses as transformative, and he has aided students with their own publications on social justice.


Outside the classroom, Kirk is a noted civil rights scholar and advocate for social justice. His scholarship is extensive and includes “The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader,” a consultancy for a Netflix series on schools and race, a CNN podcast on the 1959 fire at the Arkansas Negro Boys Industrial School, and an AETN documentary on Little Rock’s West 9th Street.


Kirk has produced more than 400 “Arkansas Moments” radio segments, published his work in newspapers and magazines, conducted numerous media interviews, generated racial attitudes reports, and organized several community conferences. On top of this extensive work, he developed the award-winning Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail, which was adopted as part of the national U.S. Civil Rights Trail in 2018. 


1. Chancellor Christina S. Drale honors the 2023 Faculty Excellence winners at UA Little Rock, the university’s highest honor for faculty members. They are (L to R) Dr. John Kirk, Dr. Mark Baillie, Dr. Stephen Grace, Drale, Dr. Rebecca Glazier, and Dr. Robert Lytle. Photo by Angelita Faller


2. Dr. Rebecca Glazier, professor in the School of Public Affairs, celebrates winning the Faculty Excellence Award in Research and Creative Endeavors with her son, Wilk Glazier. Photo by Angelita Faller


3. Dr. Sarah Beth Estes, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education, congratulates Dr. John Kirk, who received UA Little Rock’s first Faculty Excellence Award in Social Justice. Photo by Angelita Faller


4. Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, presents Dr. Stephen Grace, associate professor of biology, with the Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service. Photo by Angelita Faller

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