Kennesaw State awards ceremony recognizes outstanding faculty members

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 18, 2023

Photo of President Kat Schwaig and Ming Chen
Kathy Schwaig and Ming Chen

College of the Arts Theatre and Performance Studies professor Ming Chen has received the University Distinguished Professor Award, the top honor presented during Kennesaw State’s annual Faculty Awards ceremony on Monday.

Chen, who has taught at Kennesaw State for 32 years, was recognized for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and professional achievement, receiving $15,000 and a $5,000 faculty development fund from the KSU Foundation as part of the award. She is a renowned expert in theatrical set design and was one of 12 faculty members recognized at the event in areas including teaching, scholarship and creative activity, professional service and community engagement, early career, diversity and inclusion, and international achievement. 

“This annual ceremony celebrates some of KSU’s most inspiring teachers and scholars who are helping our students succeed inside the classroom and beyond,” said President Kathy Schwaig. “Congratulations to professor Chen and all of this year’s honorees. Also, I offer thanks to the KSU Foundation for their generous support of these awards.”

Chen credited colleagues, students and family for helping her have an outstanding career.

“I feel both validated and humbled to receive this honor. I feel validated because it took me 32 years of hard work at KSU to get this recognition. I feel humbled, because when I look back, trying to find one thing in my entire career at KSU that I did all on my own. I could find none,” she said. “In theater, we often take teamwork for granted, for it is the nature of the beast. But today, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who worked with me and inspired me as colleagues, students, and collaborators, who supported me and encouraged me as administrators and staff members, and even who cooked for me for the past 40 years without complaint. That is my husband, Zhen-Huan Lu. I could not do what I have done without their help. So this award also belongs to all of them.”

The awards process is managed by KSU’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Following nominations from each dean, candidates are evaluated and awarded based on a review by five committees across the University, which includes faculty representation from each college. 

Photo of honorees, picture from left to right are Brian Moore, Ming Chen, Karolin Mirzakhan, Darina Lepadatu, Susan Kirkpatrick Smith, Yi Jin, Chinasa Elue, Nicolas Douguet, Ramazan Aygun, Melih Madanoglu, Susanne Estrella, Anne White
L to R: Brian Moore, Ming Chen, Karolin Mirzakhan, Darina Lepadatu, Susan Kirkpatrick Smith, Yi Jin, Chinasa Elue, Nicolas Douguet, Ramazan Aygun, Melih Madanoglu, Susanne Estrella, Anne White

Other honorees include: 

Outstanding Early Career Faculty
  • Nicolas Douguet, assistant professor of physics
  • Brian Moore, director of the Center for the Advancement of Military and Emergency Services Research and assistant professor of psychology
Outstanding Part-time Teaching
  • Susanne Estrella, part-time instructor of German
Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Faculty Award for Distinguished International Achievement
  • Susan Kirkpatrick Smith, associate professor of anthropology
Diversity and Inclusion
  • Chinasa Elue, associate professor of educational leadership and higher education
Outstanding Professional Service and Community Engagement
  • Darina Lepadatu, sociology program coordinator and professor of sociology
Outstanding Research and Creative Activity
  • Ramazan Savaş Aygün, director of research computing and associate professor of computer science
  • Melih Madanoglu, Michael A. Leven Endowed Chair and professor of hospitality
Outstanding Online Teaching
  • Yi Jin, associate professor of instructional technology
Outstanding Teaching
  • Karolin Mirzakhan, lecturer of philosophy
  • Anne White, education mentor and professor of nursing

– By Gary Tanner
Photos by Matt Yung

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit