Barger, Swartling and Kline named TTU's Outstanding Faculty

Students and colleagues say Tennessee Tech University’s 2005 Outstanding Teaching and Professional Service Award winners are the tightrope walkers of their fields — they display incredible balance in their teaching, research and service.

Bonita Barger, assistant professor of decision sciences and management, and Daniel J. Swartling, assistant professor of chemistry, have been named the recipients of TTU’s Outstanding Faculty Awards in Teaching. Eugene A. Kline, professor of chemistry, has been awarded TTU’s Outstanding Faculty Award in Professional Service.

All three were recognized for their achievements, received plaques and $1,500 honorariums during the university’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Bonita Barger has taken an active role in developing Tennessee Tech University’s distance education opportunities by creating five online courses for undergraduate and graduate students at TTU and the Tennessee Board of Regents and four online courses for the College of Business’s Distance MBA program.

“Her courses serve as models for others who are designing their own online courses, and in this way, she is not only a teacher to her students but to other faculty as well,” said Linda Lerner, a management professor at TTU.

She also possesses a passion for the environment and multicultural and diversity issues that have led her to be a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador and present papers at international professional conferences at Oxford, Cuba and other locations around the world and across the country.

“Her wealth of life experiences contributes directly to a breadth and depth of human resources development she teaches in her classes and workshops,” said Connie K. Hood, English professor and director of TTU’s Honors Program.

Gary C. Pickett, chairperson of decision sciences and management, describes Barger as a superior researcher and innovative instructor who consistently gets exceptional evaluations from her students.

“Dr. Barger is a compassionate and sensitive teacher and faculty colleague. Students like and respect her. They value her knowledge and experience, and they know she will always do more than her fair share to ensure their success. She is not just a teacher, but a mentor, a counselor and an adviser to her students,” he said.

A TTU faculty member since 2000, she received her doctorate in human resource development from Vanderbilt University.

Daniel J. Swartling — known affectionately as “Dr. Dan” — has the unique ability to motivate and challenge while simultaneously earning the respect and admiration of his chemistry students.

“As chairperson of the chemistry department, I’ve had an opportunity over many years to observe his performance, and I have been very impressed with the level of rigor he brings to the discipline and the demands he places on students, and yet at the same time, he elicits their utmost admiration,” said Scott H. Northrup.

Jeff Boles, associate professor of chemistry, agreed, saying, “His students continually recognize the depth of his care for them no matter the circumstance. For example, even though Dan is a vigorous instructor who maintains integrity in the classroom, his teaching evaluations have always been some of the best in our department.”

Swartling earns the respect and admiration of students by a combination of teaching with unconventional methods, presenting exciting chemical demonstrations in a way that teaches difficult material as simply as possible, and offering an “open door policy” that makes him universally approachable to students.

“Dr. Dan helped me, taught me and counseled me in so many ways during my time at Tennessee Tech, and he continues to do so now that I am a teacher. He has still been available by e-mail or by phone anytime I’ve needed him,” said former student Staci D. Smith.

Another way Swartling goes above and beyond is by occasionally teaching a medicinal chemistry course needed by many health pre-professional majors but not offered in the chemistry department’s regular rotation, Boles said, “even though personal sacrifice is a component each time.”

Swartling has been a TTU faculty member since 1994, and he earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of North Dakota.

Eugene Kline recently performed a “singular service activity” by working with Gov. Phil Bredesen’s office, several area physicians and other state agencies on a research project that could ultimately curb the production of methamphetamine in Tennessee and benefit the governor’s meth task force.

“In an effort to get common over-the-counter cold remedies, such a Sudafed, put in more restricted areas of stores, the governor’s office needed a scientist to prove how simple it is to produce meth in a single-step synthesis from those medications,” said Northrup.

“Gene gave up his Christmas vacation to go to work on this project for the governor’s office and spent the next two months working after hours and over weekends to provide results for this study, which could have profound and lasting ramifications on this community, state and even nation,” he concluded.

Sullivan Smith, medical director of Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s emergency department and group leader of the governor’s meth task force, said Kline carried out the research “at considerable expense of his personal family plans for the Christmas holiday,” and during an illness and death in Smith’s family, Kline took an even more active role in the project.

In addition, he is an enthusiastic adviser for TTU’s health pre-professional program and a passionate instructor. “If you’ve ever seen him in the chemistry classroom, you’ll see why I refer to him as the ‘John Madden of Organic Chemistry.’ He is a bundle of enthusiasm and vigor, in love with teaching and with his subject,” Northrup said.

Senior biology and pre-med major Bryan L. Watson said, “In my four years at Tennessee Tech, I’ve had several faculty members who were passionate about the subjects they taught, but I’ve had only one professor — Eugene Kline in organic chemistry — whose love and vigor for a subject flowed out and filled the classroom.”

A TTU faculty member since 1973, Kline earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from Iowa State University.

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