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2010 Faculty Excellence Award Winners Named

Recipients of Sam Houston State University’s faculty excellence awards were congratulated recently by Jim Gaertner, SHSU president. They are, from left, James Bexley, Excellence in Service; Kimberly Bell, Excellence in Teaching; and Rebecca Robles-Piña, Excellence in Research.

May 14, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

Three Sam Houston State University faculty members who demonstrate commitment far beyond the call of duty have been selected as excellence award winners for 2010.

They are Kimberly Bell, associate professor of English, Excellence in Teaching; James Bexley, chair holder of the Smith-Hutson Endowed Chair of Banking, Excellence in Service; and Rebecca Robles-Piña, professor of educational leadership and counseling, Excellence in Research.

Each will receive $5,000.


In addition to teaching in the English department Kimberly K. Bell, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, serves as the assistant director of the university’s Honors College. She joined the SHSU faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2008. Her specialties are in medieval and classical literature, history of language, textual studies and genre theory.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from The American College of Greece, her master’s degree from Clark University, and doctorate from Georgia State University.

Bell has co-written two books and several book chapters and journal articles and has made numerous conference presentations.

Her previous awards include the SHSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Teaching Award in English and Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

Among the comments from letters of nomination and support by Bell’s students and peers were:

“For the last three semesters I have nominated Dr. Bell for the Excellence in Teaching Award, because I cannot think of a professor on the SHSU campus who is more deserving of an award which recognizes excellence in our professors. I am a senior and have taken my fair share of professors from all disciplines on this campus and not one of them has shown the love of teaching, interest, and overall heart that Dr. Bell has shown in all three classes that I have taken from her.”

“Dr. Bell walks into every class on time, with an idea of all the information that she wants to teach the class every day. She also takes care to facilitate an atmosphere of open discussion or ‘circle of trust’ so that students can learn to think about literature for themselves, and react to what she is saying rather than just passively learning the material. Another thing about Dr. Bell that makes her an ideal candidate for this award is the care and concern she shows about each student.”

“Dr. Bell is a dedicated professor who puts the needs of her students before herself. Her teaching style is welcoming and she takes a personal interest in her pupil's learning. Her guidance ensures success.”

“I have heard over the years from students about what an excellent job Kim Bell does in the classroom, and last year I had a chance to observe her teaching. That experience confirmed in spades the good reports that I had received from students. Kim did an outstanding job in provoking student discussion and analysis of The Odyssey in her ENG 265 World Literature class, so between that experience and the reports of students, I am confident in nominating her for this honor.”


James B. “Jim” Bexley, recipient of the Excellence in Service Award, has compiled an impressive number of service hours since coming to Sam Houston State in 1997.

He is a member of the board of directors, Federal Reserve Bank for the 11th District in Dallas, and serves the Fed District as chairman of the audit committee and as a member of the executive committee.

At SHSU, he developed a banking curriculum that now includes the only four-year degree in banking and financial institutions in the United States and an accredited, Web-based MBA degree in banking and financial institutions. He teaches banking courses at the university, runs an intern program that produces approximately 40 banking interns per semester, and does consulting for community banks all over the U. S. and the largest private bank in China in the areas of service quality, marketing, corporate governance, and strategic planning.

Additionally at Sam Houston State, Bexley serves on the Share the Vision Capital Campaign Executive Leadership Council, chairs the Faculty and Staff Annual Fund Program, and is a member of the College of Business Administration’s Advisory Board.

He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, a Master of Business Administration degree, and a Juris Doctorate degree. He has a Ph.D. in bank marketing from Stirling University in Scotland in the United Kingdom.

Comments of support for his nomination included:

“He is always willing to give his time to help students or give back to the university.”

“From 1998 to date, he has placed 746 students in paid intern positions. This is a time consuming program that renders tremendous results and has involved thousands of hours of volunteer time.”

“He raised $281,000 in private funds to develop and to equip a classroom with electronics, desks, plasmas, LED displays, desks, chairs, ad woodworking. No state funds have been expended on this great teaching room.”


Rebecca A. Robles-Piña, recipient of the Excellence in Research Award, consistently earns high student evaluations for teaching master’s and doctoral-level courses including statistics, methods of research, assessment techniques, writing, and psychology of learning.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas A&M University, a Master of Education degree from Oregon State University, a Master of Arts degree from Western Michigan University, and doctorate from Texas A&M.

She worked as a school counselor and school psychologist before accepting a faculty position at SHSU in 1998.

At the national and international level, Robles-Piña currently serves as chair of the Stress and Coping SIG for the American Educational Research Association and has served for six years as editor of the Journal of At-Risk Issues, a journal published by the National Dropout Prevention Center and dedicated to publishing results of successful programs and research that assist students who are at risk of dropping out of school due to low scores, pregnancy, learning problems, drug use, emotional problems, and social status.

For the university she has served on the SHSU Research Council that administers internally- and externally-funded grants.

Robles-Piña has 55 journal articles, a book, and several book chapters relating to school safety including all aspects of bullying and social and emotional issues that affect the achievement of Hispanic and African-American students.

She has served as principal investigator on grant-sponsored programs that total over $1.4 million. These programs include those that have provided counseling services to children and families in crisis, school safety, and those increasing the self-concept of children and adolescents with depression. She has also evaluated several federally grant-sponsored programs that enhance the academic achievement of minority students in science and math.

Comments supporting her nomination included:

“Evidence of her love of teaching and students is reflected in the fact that every year since 1999, several master’s-level students have nominated her to receive the Outstanding Contribution to My Career Award awarded by the Dean of Students.“

“Her expertise in methods of research and statistics has made her very sought after as a chair, committee member, and methodologist of several dissertations.”

“In addition to the grant that Rebecca was awarded by the Department of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools, she has received grants to improve the academic and mental well-being of students families in surrounding communities. For example, she collaborated with SHSU’s Department of Agriculture and Houston community colleges to increase minority students’ participation in the areas of science and math.

“Further, she collaborated with schools and mental health agencies to work on reducing domestic violence, and she collaborated with primary health care agencies and mental health care agencies to increase the use of bilingual case managers to integrate primary health care with mental health care. In total, over 1,000 students families and teachers have improved and benefitted from the grants Rebecca has written.”

“She has excelled in all areas of research and proudly represented Sam Houston State University.”



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