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2004 Excellence Award Winners Named

Faculty Excellence Winners
Recipients of Sam Houston State University's faculty excellence awards were congratulated recently by James F. Gaertner, SHSU president, far right. They are, from left, C. Allen Williams, professor of geography, Excellence in Service; Sanjay S. Mehta, associate professor of marketing, Excellence in Research; and Susannah U. Bruce, assistant professor of history, Excellence in Teaching.

Three Sam Houston State University faculty members who go well beyond the normal call of duty have been selected as excellence award winners for 2004.

They are Susannah U. Bruce, assistant professor of history, Excellence in Teaching; Sanjay S. Mehta, associate professor of marketing, Excellence in Research; and C. Allen Williams, professor of geography, Excellence in Service.

Each will receive $5,000.

"We are pleased to increase the award amounts this year," said James F. Gaertner, SHSU president. "We hope that this will more appropriately reflect the admiration that we all feel for their efforts and the quality of their work."


Susannah U. Bruce, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, has received rave reviews from her students since she began as an adjunct instructor in 1996. She is now an assistant professor, specializing in U. S. History to 1876, U. S. History since 1876, Antebellum South/Civil War & Reconstruction, Immigration and Ethnicity in American History, and Historiography.

She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont (1995), and her master's (1997) and doctorate (2002) from the University of Kansas.

In addition to her teaching skills, Bruce has done book reviews, contributed essays and encyclopedia entries, and written articles and books. She is currently editor of "Ethnicity in the American Civil War" and her book "The Harp and the Eagle: Irish Volunteers and the American Civil War" is scheduled for publication by New York University Press in 2005.

She also has numerous conference presentations, research grants, and professional service and development and community service activities.

Previous awards have included "Professor of the Year" by Kansas State dorm students for 1999 and 2000 and the A. Bower Sageser Award for excellence in teaching by the Kansas State history department in 2001. She was a semi-finalist for the SHSU Excellence in Teaching Award last year.

Her students at SHSU have been extremely complimentary:

"She is awesome. I have never had a better professor."

"She knows how to bring her class alive."

"Her lectures are interesting, she learns the names of students, and always has a smile on her face."

"This is my last semester at Sam and I'm bummed out because I've only taken two classes with Dr. Bruce. They were the best classes I've had in my college career."

"I am an online graduate student…Although I live in Chicago, I felt that I was part of the school and the program because of her prompt response and detailed suggestions."

A teaching colleague wrote, "She is one of Sam Houston State's shining stars."


Sanjay S. Mehta, recipient of the Excellence in Research Award, is a leading authority on international franchising, a field in which he gained practical experience even before beginning his academic career.

While an elementary school and junior high school student in Columbia, Mo., he had a paper route and worked as an ad inserter for the local newspaper. But he also worked in Pizza Hut, Captain D's, Taco Bell and Baskin Robbins franchises as an undergraduate student in San Angelo.

He first came to the United States from India with his family when his father was studying for his doctorate from 1973-77, then returned in 1980. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Angelo State University, and another master's and a doctorate from the University of North Texas (1999).

After teaching at Angelo State, the University of Texas San Antonio, University of North Texas, and University of Texas of the Permian Basin, he came to Sam Houston State in 1997.

His research has spanned a wide range of topics including global marketing management, small business management/franchising, and the application of technology by businesses, including the use of Geography Information Systems.

At Sam Houston State he is either the major or a significant participant in 12 grants totaling $273,000.

"He has been active in attending numerous International conferences and has traveled extensively often at his own expense to Asian countries to pursue research on global trade related issues," wrote one colleague in submitting his nomination.

"He frequently works late in the evening to keep up with his self-imposed workload," wrote another. "I particularly admire him for his willingness to assist students with their research efforts."

Mehta traces his interest in research to the beginning of his doctoral studies. In his first year he published a journal article and three conference proceedings. Before completing the degree, he published over 40 articles in academic journals and conference proceedings.

In recognition of these efforts, he was awarded the Academic Excellence Award by the University of North Texas.

Since coming to SHSU, he has published more than 100 articles in conference proceedings and academic journals, working with more than 25 colleagues from both SHSU and around the world.

In the past year he has re-focused somewhat to emphasize more proposals for books, writing grant applications, reviewing and writing for textbooks, and targeting the more prestigious journals for his research publications.


C. Allen Williams, recipient of the Excellence in Service Award, has compiled an immense number of service hours since coming to Sam Houston State in 1969. An Oklahoma native, he earned degrees from East Central State College (Oklahoma) and the University of Oklahoma, where he completed his doctorate in 1973.

In addition to his teaching duties, he has served as either the geography program coordinator or chair of the geography and geology department for 20 years. He was also director of research and grants for the College of Humanities.

His service has included assignments on the local, state and national levels. At SHSU he has chaired and served on university level curriculum committees and College of Teacher Education and College of Arts & Sciences committees and boards.

He served as a member of the Orientation Leader Selection Team for the Freshman Orientation Program for 16 years, as a member of the Orange Keys Selection Committee for seven years, as chairman of the Student Disciplinary Hearing Committee for 31 years, and as adviser or sponsor for eight different student organizations, in some cases three or more concurrently, for 29 years.

These have included the Orange Pride dance group, Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, Pan-Hellenic Association, Women's Soccer Club, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, and Geographers of Sam Houston, the Texas Academic Challenge program, as well as working with the Student Mentor and Sam Mentor programs.

Williams also helped formulate the curriculum, recruited students, and teaches a course in the SHSU Honors Program. He served in the University Athletic Council for 10 years and worked as official scorer and timekeeper for athletic events for 22 years.

Statewide, he has had several assignments for the Texas Education Agency and the State Board for Educator Certification. Nationally, he worked with the national Council for Geographic Education, and a report he did for SHSU's National Collegiate Athletic Association/Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation process has been used as a national model.

He was one of five persons honored nationally in 1989 by the National Academic Advising Association.

"Al Williams is the epitome of a good public servant--something that many profess but that few actually do," said one colleague in nominating him for the award. "Al Williams does it all, with consummate good effect and always with an eye to the actual needs of the institution."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
May 3, 2004
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