The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award

This award is presented annually to one faculty member (active or retired) who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. It recognizes those faculty whose service to students goes beyond the classroom and who have distinguished themselves as extraordinary mentors and advisors.

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Past Recipients



Milton L. Ready Ph.D.

Dr. Milton L. Ready, Professor Emeritus of History, attended both Rice University and the University of Houston before earning a Ph.D. In history from the University of Georgia. Professor Ready taught history at UNC Asheville from 1972 until his retirement in the early 2000s. Dr. Ready is a prolific author of regional histories, fiction, and essays. His books include the award winning The Tar Heel State: A New History of North Carolina, Asheville: Land of the Sky, Remembering Asheville, Oh Carolina!, and Mystical Madison: The History of a Mountain Region. Professor Ready also edited two volumes of the Colonial Records of Georgia and received the E. Merton Coulter Award and the Lighthouse Award for his work promoting history. He is the past president of both the North Carolina Association of Historians and also the Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors.

At UNC Asheville, Dr. Ready served as founding director of the Center for Jewish Studies and director of the Southern Highlands Research Center, known today as Special Collections at Ramsey Library. Ready was a trusted advisor and wise mentor to hundreds of history students taking an active interest in their success both in and outside the classroom. Professor Ready served many years as the University’s pre-law advisor, with 90% of his students being accepted into law school. In 1985 Dr. Ready received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.



Dr. Agya Boakye-Boaten

Agya Boakye-Boaten earned a Ph.D. in educational studies, with an emphasis in cultural studies in education, an M.A. in political science (international relations), and an M.A. in international affairs (African Studies) all from Ohio University. He also earned his B.A. (Hons) in social work/administration and political science from the University of Ghana, Legon. He has served in several leadership positions in different universities since 2007. Currently, he is a Professor of Africana & Interdisciplinary Studies and Interim Dean of Social Sciences at UNC Asheville. Boakye-Boaten is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar (Ghana 2019-2020) and Fellow-Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship (2017). He is also an international scholar as a lifelong member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society. His research interests include alternative education for street children, building intellectual and creative capacities of students using alternative education strategies, and the use of education as a medium for the promotion of democracy. He has taught various interdisciplinary, international, and Africana studies courses. Additionally, he is interested in de colonial options, construction of African philosophical thought, effects of colonialism on African aesthetics, and the transformation of Indigenous cultures through global engagement.



Marietta Cameron

Marietta Cameron is serving her second four-year term as Chair and Associate Professor of UNC Asheville’s Computer Science department, and she also leads UNC Asheville’s Faculty Senate as chair. She has been the co-PI on a NSF grant for the ACES (Atmospheric and Computer Science Exploratory Scholars) program. Prior to joining UNCA’s faculty in 2011, she taught at Birmingham-Southern for 20 years. During that time, she also served as the program director for the Birmingham Area of Consortium of Higher Education Scholars in Computer Science. She earned her B.S. in computer science and math from Birmingham-Southern College and her Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Alabama Birmingham. Her professional interests include computational aesthetics, computer vision, computer graphics, and artificial intelligence.


Keith Bramlett

Keith Bramlett is the retired Sara & Joseph Breman Professor of Social Relations at UNC Asheville. He taught courses including Sociology of Law, Service Learning in Restorative Justice, Difference and Inequality and The Changing Role of Women in the Criminal Justice System. Dr. Bramlett received a number of awards during his tenure including the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, the Student Affairs Faculty Appreciation Award in 1990, the Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences Award in 1996, and the Distinguished Service Award in 2005. He was made a Fellow of the Key Center for Community Engaged Learning in 2010.  On campus, Dr. Bramlett was involved with the LGBTQ campus organization, Alliance and the Diversity Action Council as well as with various non-profit organizations in the Asheville-Buncombe community such as Youth Outright, WNC Inc.



Ann Dunn ’93 is a faculty member, a mentor, a dancer, and a leader in the arts community. As a faculty member of UNC Asheville since 1996, Ann teaches an average of 200 students per year, and is known as an extraordinary mentor and advisor to students and alumni.



Dwight Mullen, professor of political science and 33-year veteran of UNC Asheville’s faculty, is the 2017 recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award. A gifted teacher, active scholar and engaged community leader, Mullen has taught courses that have consistently challenged and inspired his students. For a decade, Mullen has led his students in a research project on The State of Black Asheville, collecting and presenting an array of data on health, housing, income, education, employment, and incarceration rates, and cataloging the severe racial disparities in Asheville. His work has been recognized by Buncombe County Commissioners in 2017 and by the UNC System Board of Governors in 2014.



Dee James
Professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to a faculty member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in advising and mentorship, was given to Dee James, professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program at UNC Asheville. James, a graduate of UNC Asheville and member of the faculty since 1987, has co-led international travel experiences to Ghana, taught in the Africana Studies, Arts and Ideas, and Humanities programs, and played an essential role in helping students master effective and expressive writing.



John Eric Gant
Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to a faculty member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in advising and mentorship, was given to John Eric Gant, assistant professor of foreign languages at UNC Asheville. Gant, who has been on the faculty for 15 years, has taught 24 different courses in foreign languages, Africana studies, arts and ideas, and humanities. He has led students on trips abroad to Ecuador, Honduras, Ghana, Mexico and Nigeria.



Robert Yearout
Professor of Management

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Robert Yearout, professor of Management. Yearout has earned several awards since joining the faculty in 1988, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, UNC Asheville’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the University Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences, and the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for Scholarship and Service.



Mary Lynn Manns
Professor of Management

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Mary Lynn Manns, professor of Management. Dr. Manns is an inspiring teacher who has generously given her time to help students with undergraduate research projects as well as helping alumni build their networks. She has made the UNC Asheville experience truly extraordinary for many so students by being tireless in her support.


Ted Meigs
Associate Professor of Biology

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Ted Meigs, UNC Asheville GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Molecular and Chemical Biology.  Dr. Meigs addresses the broad question of how cells in the human body communicate with each other, and more specifically how these communication pathways are disrupted during cancer progression.  Every aspect of his research involves his students.  With his undergraduate research students he is developing new initiatives in molecular and chemical biology, fostering new opportunities for cross-discipline collaboration and community involvement.



Brenda Hopper
Teaching Fellows Program Director

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Brenda Hopper, director of the UNC Asheville Teaching Fellows program. Hopper was recognized for her genuine care and concern for her students’ professional and personal wellbeing, and for her exemplary service as a mentor and advisor.



Dan Pierce
Associate Professor of History

The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Dan Pierce, associate professor of History. Pierce is a noted national expert on the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and NASCAR. The Asheville native is the author of the popular books “The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park” and “Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay and Big Bill France.”



Dolly Jenkins Mullen
Associate Professor of Political Science

Dolly Jenkins Mullen, who joined the faculty in 1984, has established an outstanding reputation as a professor who cares deeply about her students. She spends many hours outside the classroom meeting with students to guide their coursework, as well as lending an ear to those struggling with personal problems.



Sarah Judson
Professor of History

Sarah Judson joined the History faculty in the Fall of 1997. In the decade that has followed, she has established an outstanding reputation as a faculty member who cares deeply for her students. A great teacher, she also gives generously of her time out of class and is especially known for her kindness in helping students with their senior thesis. Many graduates credit their career path to Sarah’s mentorship.



Richard Maas
Professor of Environmental Science


The University presented the Distinguished Faculty Award posthumously to Environmental Studies Professor Richard P. Maas. He died last December, following a brief illness. Maas, who joined the faculty in 1987, was a visionary scientist, inspirational teacher and one of the country’s leading water quality researchers. Maas was a founder and co-director of UNC Asheville’s Environmental Quality Institute, which serves as a national center for environmental research. Maas was also active in the community. He helped found the Volunteer Water Information Network and the Clean Air Community Trust, and served on numerous local boards.



Merritt Moseley
Professor of Literature

The Distinguished Faculty Award was presented to Merritt Moseley. Moseley, who joined the UNC Asheville faculty in 1978, is professor of literature and language. He has published books on David Lodge, Kingsley Amis and Julian Barnes and serves as the editor of the “Dictionary of Literary Biography” volumes on British novelists since 1960. Moseley holds a doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill.