CVM Professors Receive Excellence
in Education Awards
|Drs. Chris Baines and Rebecca Johnson
Among the 10 recipients of MU’s Excellence in Education Awards for 2014 were two College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members, Drs. Chris Baines and Rebecca Johnson. Baines is an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the college and an investigator at the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. Johnson is a professor at the college, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing.
Co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and the MU Parents Leadership Council, the award recognizes faculty members, advisers and academic administrators who have made significant contributions to the out-of-class learning experiences of MU students and who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to student learning and personal development.
“These individuals have created an environment where the students take the knowledge and skills that they’ve learned in the classroom and apply them outside the classroom,” said Interim Provost Ken Dean at the April 29 awards ceremony. “They are role models, they are mentors, and they often lend a willing ear when they need to.”
Thanks to this faculty support, “we know that when our students leave here they are going to be successful,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs.
Baines earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Bath in Avon, Great Britain, and his PhD in basic medical sciences at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. He came to MU in 2008.
“I am genuinely honored, flattered and humbled that folks thought I was worthy to be even considered for nomination,” Baines said. “I could not do any of this without the unbelievable mentors and role models I have here at the College of Veterinary of Medicine. They have taken the time to teach me and have given me the opportunities to be a greater part of our students’ education.”
In addition to his role as course director for Veterinary Cell and Molecular Biology, Baines is involved in activities outside of the classroom. He is co-director and a mentor for the Veterinary Research Scholar Program, which allows students to explore different facets of biomedical research to expose them to potential career choices they may not have considered. He also participates in the Veterinary Enrichment and Teambuilding orientation program, a three-day, overnight teambuilding event for incoming first-year veterinary students.
“I’m proud to be part of the VET orientation program as this provides the incoming students the opportunity to team build, to learn to tackle and overcome problems together, and to learn how to communicate better with their peers,” Baines said. “These are all things that will aid the students not just through school but also through their entire veterinary careers.”
Dr. Doug Bowles, professor of biomedical sciences, nominated Baines. He said his rapport with students is enviable.
“In the classroom, Chris is an outstanding teacher who presents course material in a clear and concise manner and generates enthusiasm for the subjects covered,” Bowles wrote. “His rapport with the students, despite the complexity of the subject material he covers, is a testament to his ability as an effective instructor.”
Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Dubuque in Iowa, her MPhil from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and her PhD from the University of Iowa in 1992. She joined the MU Sinclair School of Nursing in August 1999 as the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy and shortly thereafter was given a joint appointment in the College of Veterinary Medicine for her research on human and companion-animal interaction.
Johnson established the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in 2005. The center’s research has demonstrated that human-animal interaction benefits both people and companion animals by enhancing their physical and emotional well-being. Projects studying these benefits have included an animal visitation program for older adults and a program that helps military veterans fight post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms by training shelter dogs. Johnson is president of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations.
Johnson teaches Human-Companion Animal Interaction, a class that requires each student to participate in a minimum of 20 hours in a service-learning project. Students select a project from different human-animal interaction organizations, including ReCHAI. In addition, she offers opportunities outside of the classroom for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in projects at ReCHAI.
“Working with students outside of the classroom is highly rewarding and also greatly enhances the work of our team at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction,” she said. “Our work is entirely based in the community, so it must involve students outside of the classroom. Students engage in our work enthusiastically and bring diverse insights and skills, which make them delightful to work with. They also make significant contributions to our work.”
In her nomination of Johnson, Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, a postdoctoral fellow at ReCHAI, said interactions with Johnson help students realize their full potential.
“Students who work or come into contact with Dr. Johnson learn much more than content lessons, they learn life lessons,” she said. “She has very high expectations of her students, and they respond with enthusiasm and gratitude.”
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