Award-Winning Faculty and Staff in the JMU Libraries

Posted on: May 16, 2022

As the 2021-22 academic year comes to a close, we are delighted to share some details about the award-winning faculty and staff who have helped us all finish the year strong. JMU’s awards programs celebrate faculty and staff who demonstrate excellence in so many ways. We hope that you’ll enjoy learning about some of the people of JMU Libraries who make JMU the amazing place that it is.

Dr. Juhong Christie Liu is the 2022 Madison Scholar for the JMU Libraries. This award recognizes excellence in scholarly achievement. Dr. Liu is the Director of Instructional Design for the Libraries. She is an active scholar and collaborator at JMU as well as in the national and international arenas. Beyond the 17 journal articles and 14 book chapters that Dr. Liu has authored and co-authored, she has lent her leadership skills and scholarly acumen to supporting open education initiatives. Open education is a movement to make educational experiences and resources more widely available by creating affordable and accessible course content.

Through her service as president of the Culture, Learning & Technology division of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology, Christie has been able to further the cause of facilitating inclusive learning by making space for cross-cultural collaborative exploration of emerging topics at the intersection of culture, learning, and technology. JMU Libraries is proud to work with Christie as she leads and connects to enhance access to education across disciplinary, financial, and social barriers.

Kathy Clarke is the 2022 Distinguished Service award winner for the JMU Libraries. Kathy is recognized for her consistent service to the students at JMU through the General Education Program. No JMU student graduates without benefiting from Kathy’s work with General Education. Whether it is her continuous refinements to the Madison Research Essentials Skills Toolkit—the primary means through which students develop the ability to discover and apply knowledge—or her careful alignment of Library support for the General Education curriculum, everyone at JMU reaps the rewards of Kathy’s service.

Kathy brings the same enthusiasm to her participation as a faculty member at JMU. Not only has she served on countless committees, task forces, ad hoc groups, and in elected positions, but she has dedicated herself to the often thankless task of editing, updating and maintaining faculty governance policies for the Libraries and for the entire JMU faculty. Just as all JMU students benefit from Kathy’s service, JMU faculty are indebted to her as well.

Rebecca French is the recipient of the 2022 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research & Scholarship. One of eight faculty at JMU to receive this award, Rebecca is recognized for her “steady stream of innovative software, publications, [and] significant technical and intellectual advances” according to Dean of Libraries Bethany Nowviskie. Rebecca is the Head of Metadata Analysis & Operations, a position from which she works to make the rich resources in the JMU Libraries discoverable by the world. A talented scholar, Rebecca routinely makes her software scripts and applications freely available via GitHub, ensuring that her innovations can be used and modified by Libraries around the world to enhance access to their own collections. And she actively shares her work with her peers via publications and presentations.

Rebecca is actively working to ensure that library metadata—the way that scholars and their work are described—is accepted by search engines. Simply put, Rebecca is shining light on creative and scholarly work so that others can benefit from it. In this sense, she is helping to fulfill the promise of the university.

A white woman smiles at the camera. She has glasses and brown hair in a bun.

Liana Bayne is one of three JMU recipients of the Provost Award for Administrative Excellence. In her role as Executive Assistant to the Dean of the Libraries, Liana provides excellent support for the operation of the Libraries as well as for the administrative unit. She is recognized for her positive and cheerful attitude, her willingness to do what it takes to keep the Libraries running, and for her efforts to strengthen the many collaborations that exist between the Libraries and other units at JMU.

In the spring of 2020, when the Libraries buildings had closed due to COVID, Liana jumped at the opportunity to staff the chat service, ensuring that JMU students, faculty, and staff received answers to their most pressing questions. And she provided this service well into the evening hours and on weekends, so that other staff with caregiving responsibilities would not have to. In addition to her generous service to the Libraries, Liana volunteers around campus through committee work, serves the profession through the Association of College & Research Libraries, and serves the greater community (along with her faithful canine companion, Sage) as vice president of the Rockingham Harrisonburg chapter of Therapy Dogs International.

Brian Flota

Dr. Brian Flota received a professional development award from the African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies Center to continue his research and scholarship on Black comic books. Brian has been instrumental in developing the JMU Libraries Special Collections comic book collection, both as a donor of 10,000 pieces from his personal collection and as a scholar of the genre. In addition to providing a wealth of primary source material for the study of comic books, Brian has collaborated with several faculty members to develop a rich collection of vintage Black comic books, one of only three such collections in the country. This award will support the purchase of additional Black comic books to enrich the collection and help Brian share his research with the wider scholarly community.               

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