Each day at the University of Mississippi, students are impacted by words and actions of many faculty and staff who know their work extends beyond classrooms, labs and offices.
For the 14th year, two UM members who personify such extraordinary service have been selected for special recognition. Aileen Ajootian, chair and associate professor of classics and art, and Marc Showalter, director of the University Counseling Center and assistant professor of education, are recipients of the 2008 Frist Student Service Awards.
“Ole Miss is a service-oriented, loving community,” Chancellor Robert Khayat said. “To be recognized by students, faculty and staff as a leader in service affirms the extraordinary level of commitment of the Frist recipients.”
The awards, one for faculty and one for staff, were established with a gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr. of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. Ajootian and Showalter were selected by a chancellor’s committee of faculty, staff and students assessing nominations. They each receive $1,000 and a plaque and are to be recognized Saturday (May 10, 2008) at the university’s commencement ceremony.
Nomination letters for the award cite specific examples of how members have gone the extra mile for students. A former student nominating Ajootian wrote about how she encouraged him: “I can remember feeling hopeless, but Dr. Ajootian gave me hope.
“She created numerous tutoring sessions for her students besides the time that she would spend helping students during her office hours,” he continued.
The same theme of selflessness was reflected in letters of nomination for Showalter. A student wrote: “(Dr. Showalter’s) life has been dedicated to serving others on this campus, often putting his personal life on hold. His character is such that he always puts students first.”
A graduate instructors nomination for Showalter read: “As I near the completion of my own graduate work …, I know that one of the best memories I will take with me is that of Dr. Marc Showalter and his tireless and selfless efforts to help students as they pursue their goals in higher education.”
Showalter said he was overwhelmed by the honor.
“I’m surprised and touched to be selected, and I am blown away by the kindness and compassion of the members of this community,” he said. “While I do feel unworthy of this, I am thrilled to be listed among those who have been given this award. I can think of no greater compliment from my colleagues and students.”
Ajootian also expressed surprise.
“Receiving this award was a complete shock,” she said. “But it is such a great honor. It makes me want to continue doing what I have been doing. I love working in an environment what I can continue to learn and share my excitement for learning with my students.”
A native of Long Island, N.Y., Ajootian joined the UM faculty in 1996. She holds master’s degrees from Bryn Mawr College and the University of Oregon. She earned her doctorate in classical archaeology from Bryn Mawr. She is a member of the Archaeological Institute of America and of the College Arts Association. Her fieldwork in archaeology includes research in Athens and ancient Corinth in Greece.
Showalter, a licensed professional counselor, completed his doctorate in education at UM in 1994 and was named manager of professional services. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas and bachelor’s from Harding University. He is Reality Therapy Certified through the Institute for Reality Therapy.