In profiling Dr. Kalen Churcher for a March 2012 publication highlighting the "20 most intriguing professor on campus," communication studies student Tiffany Hyman described the fifth-year professor as a rising star. It turns out she's not the only one who thinks so.
Churcher was recently chosen to participate in a pair of summer conferences meant to highlight the achievements of the profession's brightest young minds.
Over the summer, she received a Promising Professor Award (second place) from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and was selected for the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy by Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication.
Churcher was recommended for both prestigious awards by Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of Niagara's College of Arts and Sciences.
"Kalen is an outstanding instructor who knows when to guide and when to challenge her students to do their very best," McGlen said. "She is also involved in a number of clubs and programs outside of the classroom that make us very proud to call her one of our own."
The Promising Professor Award is a national honor given to young faculty and graduate students who demonstrate excellence and innovation in teaching. Churcher received the award during AEJMC's national conference in August in Chicago, where she also presented as a member of the Promising Professors and Distinguished Educator Panel.
A couple months earlier, Churcher participated in the 2012 Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy, which took place June 3-7 on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. The academy, now in its sixth year, brings up-and-coming mass communication professionals and scholars together with seasoned administrators to share administrative strategies and insights. Several previous participants are now deans at communications schools across the country. Churcher was chosen in large part due to her work as the coordinator of NU Beginnings, a freshman course that introduces new students to life at Niagara University.
"I think it's important for professors to have a visible presence outside of the classroom. Working with the freshman experience course has not only allowed me to do that, but it has afforded me the opportunity to exercise my leadership skills as well," said Churcher, an assistant professor of communication studies. "Being chosen for the Promising Professor Award was truly a great honor because I was recognized for doing something I love - working with students. I'm very grateful for the support of Dr. McGlen and my colleagues."
Churcher is a native of Plymouth, Pa. She holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Wilkes University, a master's degree in human resources from the University of Scranton, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University.