Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes and Dr. Chris Seaton are recipients of Rhodes’ highest faculty honors for outstanding teaching and research, which were presented May 1 at the annual Rhodes College Awards Convocation held on campus. Also at the ceremony, departmental and service awards were presented to outstanding students, and special scholarship and internship award winners were acknowledged.
Jackson-Hayes, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching. Seaton, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research and/or Creative Activity. The awards, first given in 1981, were established by businessman and Rhodes alumnus Clarence Day and are provided by the Day Foundation.
The Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching is given to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the previous three years as determined by the assessments of students and colleagues, the effective use of imaginative and creative pedagogy, and motivating students to embrace a life of continuing study.
Since joining Rhodes in 2003, Jackson-Hayes has become known across campus as a demanding, caring, energetic, inspiring, and–most importantly–transformative teacher. One student commented that “Dr. Jackson-Hayes is a phenomenal teacher. But what sets her apart is a natural ability to inspire, and enthusiasm to soak up knowledge, a desire to ask questions and think critically.” A colleague commented that she employs a “variety of imaginative teaching strategies in her courses.” With many examples and anecdotes, her nominators also illustrated how her courses are models of clarity and organization.
Other observers noted her devotion to each and every student, and one wrote, “Her office is on the first floor of Kennedy Hall, and everyone knows that you can go by and have a conversation that will brighten your day, peak your interest in science, and have you wanting to come back just to talk with her.”
In addition, alumni have expressed the impact Jackson-Hayes has had on their lives. “Once an unconfident student, I am now a leader that guides students of my own,” wrote one graduate of the college who has been accepted into medical school. “She has taught me a new way of learning, a new way of thinking, and a new way of living . . . Dr. Jackson-Hayes has put me on a path for success in life, and has taught me how to be an effective leader that will change the world.”
Jackson-Hayes holds degrees from Tougaloo College and the University of Tennessee, Memphis.
The Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research and/or Creative Activity is presented to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated that research and/or creative activity is an integral part of his/her vocation and who has published or performed outstanding works over the previous three years that have gained scholarly recognition or critical acclaim.
The long-time subject of Seaton’s research has been the study of orbifolds that can be formed, for example, by starting with an entirely smooth surface and folding that surface in on itself. An example is a cone that can be made by folding a smooth sheet of paper in on itself. The orbifolds Seaton studies include seven dimensional surfaces in 10 dimensional space.
Seaton has had 20 manuscripts published or accepted since 2007, including two in Transactions of the American Mathematical Society. This is one of the top journals in mathematics worldwide, and one of his nominators wrote, “One of these publications would be a badge of honor for a mathematician at a research institution; now Chris has two.”
Seaton also has presented his work nationally and internationally, including seminars in Brazil, Korea, Denmark and China, and he has served as a referee for international journals. Six of his manuscripts have featured undergraduate co-authors. One of his colleagues wrote, “The magnificent work that Chris did mentoring is a shining example of what Rhodes offers to its students when it is at its best.”
Seaton joined the faculty in 2004. He holds degrees from Kalamazoo College and the University of Colorado at Boulder.