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For the third time since the recognition program was begun in 1990, Old Dominion University has two SCHEV award winners in the same year.

Cynthia M. Jones and Katharine C. Kersey are among a select group of 12 statewide winners of the 2005 Outstanding Faculty awards from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Each of this year's winners, who were honored Feb. 15 in Richmond, receives a cash award of $5,000 from the Dominion Foundation. To date, ODU has produced 17 winners in the highly competitive program.

The awards just keep on coming for Jones. Named a Virginia Scientist of the Year for 2003, the eminent scholar and professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences was honored in November as the 2004 Virginia Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Kersey, University Professor and chair of early childhood, speech pathology and special education, has taught at the university for 35 years. She is a nationally known expert on parenting and childhood education.

Jones, who directs ODU's Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, joined the university in 1986. In addition to teaching and advising students in five courses, she is an international pioneer in fisheries ecology. She developed new techniques to accurately determine the age of fish by studying their ear bones, or otoliths, which have daily and annual rings similar to trees. She also pioneered a chemical analysis technique that can determine where a particular fish was hatched and what waters it has inhabited since. Because of her work, scientists can now identify essential fish habitats and determine which ones provide better living conditions.

A Fulbright scholar, Jones is a member of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the first fisheries scientist to serve on the commission in its 125-year history. She recently received a nearly $200,000 Virginia Sea Grant to work on a project titled "How Essential Fish Habitat Influences Population Structure for Spotted Seatrout, Cynoscion Nebulosus, with Special Emphasis on Chesapeake Bay."

In a letter of support for her SCHEV award nomination, a graduate student said of Jones, "She has the ability to present complex concepts in a format that is both understandable and relevant to real-world applications." He added, "However, it was my empowerment to investigate to the nth degree processes that piqued my interest, accompanied by a 'stay focused' support base, that I found most extraordinary about Dr. Jones' teaching style."

Kersey, who joined the university in 1969, is the author of several books, including "Sensitive Parenting" and "The First Year Teacher." She recently developed a CD-ROM set, "101s: A Guide to Positive Discipline," based on principles that she has been teaching future teachers for years.

When Kersey's students go into the classroom to student-teach, they are more than prepared to connect with, motivate and relate to children.

One of her former students, now a second grade teacher, recalled, "She is a passionate, caring and honest person. I could feel her excitement about positive discipline as I sat in class that night, and every night that followed. She is an informative yet entertaining professor and the one I remember most. She became someone I looked up to as a mentor and eventually as a friend."

Passion, in fact, is a word that many of Kersey's former students use when they think back to their time in class with her, and she is happy that she's been able to communicate this so successfully down through the years.

"I believe that my greatest gift is in the ability to transmit my passion for children to others," Kersey said. "Student comments through the years have assured me that many of them have 'caught' my love for children and are dedicating their lives to the same goal - that of making the world a better place for children."

This article was posted on: February 9, 2005

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