Two Mercer professors named Governor’s Teaching Fellows

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Side by side headshots of Dr. Sabrina Walthall and Dr. John Carroll.
Dr. Sabrina Walthall (left) and Dr. John Carroll. Mercer University photos

ATLANTA/MACON — Two Mercer University faculty members were recently chosen as Governor’s Teaching Fellows, a highly selective program designed to develop important teaching skills through emerging technologies and instructional tools and sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Sabrina Walthall, professor of science in the College of Professional Advancement, was selected for the Spring Symposium Program held in May, which was STEM-themed for the first time. Dr. John Carroll, associate professor of organizational development and leadership program coordinator in the College of Professional Advancement, was selected to participate in the Academic Year Symposia Program that will begin Sept. 13.

“This experience not only validated the efficacy of my existing instructional approaches in online science courses but also provided me with a fresh arsenal of teaching strategies that will motivate my students,” Dr. Walthall said. “Overall, the spring STEM symposium not only expanded my pedagogical toolkit but reinforced the significance of my instructional endeavors. I left the symposium equipped with enhanced teaching strategies, STEM tailored assessment methods, and a network of passionate educators committed to creating an educational experience that nurtures students’ ongoing engagement in STEM disciplines.”

Dr. Walthall is an accomplished scientist with a strong focus on science education, teacher professional development and science outreach. Her published research explores the connection between parent and child attitudes toward STEM, specifically investigating how these attitudes influence students’ affinity for the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Through her research, Dr. Walthall aims to inform educational practices that foster increased engagement in STEM subjects. In addition, she actively promotes STEM by hosting the STEM Lab Podcast, which showcases the achievements of women in STEM from marginalized communities. Dr. Walthall holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Emory University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She completed her postdoctoral training with UAB’s Community for Outreach Development, where she played a key role in revitalizing science education in K-12 schools across Alabama.

“I can think of no one more qualified to be named a STEM Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellow,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Professional Advancement. “For so many years, Dr. Walthall has led an initiative in the College of Professional Advancement to increase accessibility of science courses and related service-learning experiences for our population of working adult students. In the process, she has successfully encouraged an enthusiasm for science and scientific thinking through the general education and pre-health science courses she has designed and taught.”

Dr. Carroll holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice, bachelor’s degree in political science, Master of Public Administration in justice policy management and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University. Prior to coming to Mercer, he was a faculty member with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. At the latter, Dr. Carroll served as the academic coordinator for the public administration and emergency management degree programs. He was also one of the architects of the Nova Southeastern University/Broward Sheriff’s Office Executive Leadership Program.

“I am both honored and humbled to be selected for this prestigious program from among my peers at Mercer,” Dr. Carroll said. “I hope to be able to follow the path of excellence of previous Governor’s Teaching Fellows from Mercer University. The world of teaching is undergoing something of a revolution in recent years, especially in response to COVID-19. As someone who has taught students for more than 30 years, I know we have to be students too. The Governor’s Teaching Fellows symposia will bring together some of the best faculty in Georgia to share ideas and learn how to be at the front line to help guide us as educators.”

He has published in refereed journals, made paper presentations to international academic and practitioner conferences, and published book chapters. Dr. Carroll’s research and teaching interests include organizational development, leadership and public administration, as well as criminal justice, public policy, emergency and crisis management, strategic management, budgeting, the history of government and entrepreneurial governance.

“Dr. Carroll is recognized by our students, who hold leadership positions or seek new leadership opportunities, for his student-centered approach to teaching and advising,” Dr. Danheiser said. “He is incredibly successful in involving our working adult students in every class,  valuing all that they bring from their varied professional and community experience, and including that experience in class content and discussion. I know that as a fellow he will contribute to the discussions of this highly selective program and bring back so much to his students and faculty colleagues.” 

The Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program was established in 1995 by Zell Miller, who served as governor of Georgia from 1991-1999, to provide Georgia’s higher education faculty with expanded opportunities for developing important teaching skills. Miller envisioned that this program would address faculty members’ pressing need to use emerging technologies and learn instructional approaches that are becoming increasingly important for teaching in today’s society.

To date, more than 200 disciplines, professions and fields have been represented by over 700 fellows from more than 90 public and private institutions statewide. To learn more about the McBee Institute of Higher Education and the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program, go to ihe.uga.edu/governors-teaching-fellows.

Andrea is a digital content specialist at Mercer. She creates and maintains written and multimedia content for primary University web pages. She ensures a consistent, University “voice” throughout various forms of online communications platforms. She also plans and executes campaigns for the primary official Mercer University social media accounts.