College of Arts and Letters announces annual Faculty and Staff A - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

College of Arts and Letters announces annual Faculty and Staff Awards

Photo credit: USM Photo credit: USM
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Arts and Letters recently honored students, alumni, faculty and staff at an annual awards ceremony at the Thad Cochran Center. Family, friends and other guests gathered to celebrate student academic achievements and alumni accomplishments. The college recognized excellence in service, teaching and research at the event. 

Kelly James-Penot was named the 2016-17 College of Arts and Letters Staff Member of the Year. She is the supervisor of costume and makeup production for the Department of Theatre and has been with the university since 2010. She earned her B.F.A. from William Carey University, and her M.F.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kelli Sellers, M.A., was selected as the 2016-17 College of Arts and Letters Instructor of the Year. She earned her B.A. and M.A. at Southern Miss and has been teaching at her alma mater in the Department of English since 2006.

Assistant professor of history, Dr. Allison Abra, was selected the College of Arts and Letters’ 2016-17 Junior Faculty Member of the Year. She earned her B.A. from the University of Manitoba, her M.A. from Queen’s University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Abra has been with Southern Miss since 2012.

Fei Xue, Ph.D. was named the 2016-17 College of Arts and Letters Teacher of the Year. Xue, has been teaching in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism since 2004. He earned his B.A. from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China and his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Department of Communication Studies associate professor Steven Venette was named 2016-17 College of Arts and Letters Researcher of the Year. He earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at North Dakota State University, and has been teaching at Southern Miss since 2006.

Ann Marie Kinnell was selected as the 2016-17 College of Arts and Letters Service Award recipient. Kinnell, an associate professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology has been at Southern Miss since 1997. She earned her B.A. from Indiana University, Bloomington, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington.

“While the faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Letters is excellent across the board, I am delighted to congratulate this year’s college award winners,” said Dr. Maureen Ryan, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “Kelly James-Penot and her Broadway-quality costumes complement the acting, production and other aspects of our outstanding theatre productions. Kelli Sellers deftly teaches the demanding, essential composition courses required of all undergraduates.

“Dr. Allison Abra—she of the brand-new book—demonstrates the teaching and scholarly strengths of the junior faculty in the college. Dr. Fei Xue, too, is widely recognized as a dedicated and adept teacher, while Dr. Stephen Venette shines with his prolific and fascinating research on risk and food safety. Department chair Dr. Ann Marie Kinnell serves her department, the college, and the university in crucial administrative and committee roles. Our award winners are a motley and impressive group.”

To read more about these dedicated faculty and staff members, visit https://www.usm.edu/arts-letters/2016-17-college-excellence-award-winners.

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