WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., May 11, 2021 — West Liberty University students named its professors of the year and staff of the year recently for the Academic Year 2020 – 2021.
Though there was no formal ceremony due to the ongoing pandemic, the Student Government Association (SGA) presented each honoree with an appropriate plaque and award letter informing them of the honor.
The selected faculty, the name of their college and a brief bio follows:
Dr. Aaron Harper, the College of Liberal Arts
Harper joined WLU in 2012 and is an associate professor of Philosophy. He earned both a doctoral and a master degree in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned a bachelor’s in philosophy from Creighton University. His primary research areas are 19th Century Philosophy and Ethics, with particular interest in Friedrich Nietzsche. He also is an active scholar in the philosophy of sport.
Michael Blackwell, the Gary E. West College of Business
Blackwell is the program director of the undergraduate program and an instructor of Accounting. He earned an MBA at Wheeling Jesuit University and a bachelor’s in business administration in accounting at WLU. Blackwell serves on the College of Business Curriculum Committee, the College of Business Assessment Committee and is an advisor for the Kappa Delta Kappa Fraternity.
Dr. Joseph Horzempa, the College of Sciences
Horzempa is an associate professor of Biology and co-director of WLU’s MA/MS in Biology. He earned both a bachelor and Master of Science degree from California University of Pennsylvania and received his doctoral degree from Duquesne University. He and his students continue his work on developing new antibiotics and vaccines as they research the biology of the bacterium, Francisella tularensis, a bacterium he has researched since he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 2006 – 2011. Horzempa was named West Virginia’s 2017 Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation.
Dr. Jason Metz, the College of Education and Human Performance
Metz is assistant professor of Exercise Physiology and joined WLU’s faculty in fall of 2016. He completed his doctoral degree in 2017 at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to that he earned a master’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania and earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Frostburg State University. He has trained and consulted with professional and Olympic level athletes and recently took up mountain bike racing as a sport. Metz received a Gold recognition award for the Exercise Is Medicine program that he began here at WLU in 2018.
Moonjang Kang, the College of Arts and Communications
Kang is a professor of Visual Communication Design at WLU. She joined WLU in 2009 after earning a bachelor’s of fine arts in Graphic Design, Concentration: Visual Communication Design, at Hansung University and an MFA in Graphic Design, Concentration: Packaging Design, at Hongik University, both in South Korea. Kang is a native of Korea and developed the graphic design study abroad program with the Department of Visual Communication in Hanbat.
Kate Billings, Staff Member of the Year
Billings is the director of Student Activities and Title IX Coordinator at WLU. Billings joined the University in 2014 and is responsible for planning campus events and activities, supervising student clubs and overseeing the Greek life system of fraternities and sororities. A native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., she earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Consulting/Leadership degree from Binghamton University (New York) and an MBA from West Liberty University.
The Professor of the Year and Staff of the Year Award program is coordinated by the SGA, which collects student nominations and votes, prior to announcing the award every spring.
Typically, it is presented at the Spring Convocation but due to the need for social distancing, the presentation was done differently this spring.
The 2020-2021 Executive Board of SGA includes:
- Isabella Yakicic, President
- Grace Dodson, Vice President
- Max Fiedorczyk, Treasurer
- Taylor Newkirk, Secretary
- Trey Jack, Director of Programming