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Five Liberty professors announced as recipients of President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

As the 2023-24 academic year comes to a conclusion, five professors from different areas of Liberty University were recognized for their outstanding work in the classroom and role in continuing Liberty’s mission through the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to professors who have promoted significant student learning, evidenced by creative and innovative approaches to teaching, the effective use of instructional technology, and exceptional pedagogical skill. Additionally, the recipients’ impact on student faith, thought, and character fully realizes Dr. Falwell’s vision of Training Champions for Christ.

The award process involves a formal nomination, dean support, faculty input, and student contribution. The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) oversees the adjudication and process. Winners are recommended by confidential scoring committees, comprised of select staff, faculty, academic leadership, and past winners, and are affirmed by the Office of the Provost.

“This year’s award winners of the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching stand out among our incredible faculty body as teachers, mentors, and role models,” CTE Director Dr. Shawn M. Bielicki. “They have excelled at preparing our students with the Christ-centered knowledge and skills to impact the world. We congratulate them on this prestigious and well-deserved recognition.” 


President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching


Dr. Cynthia Goodrich

Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing

In her classes, Goodrich successfully utilizes various tech-related tools, including virtual meetings with field experts. Goodrich’s use of resources and technology creates a flexible environment. Deeply concerned with students’ spiritual and mental health, she infuses every interaction with seeds of faith, including prayer and the Gospel in her emails and online video calls. Goodrich has been published in peer-reviewed journals, has served as a Center for Teaching Excellence Fellow, and is the Assistant Director of Liberty University’s Honors Program.

  • Goodrich was also this year’s recipient of the 2024 CTE Director’s Award for Excellence in New Faculty Mentoring, which recognizes a veteran faculty member who has excelled at taking a new faculty under their wing to help them navigate their first year.


Kevin Layell

Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Layell implements active learning principles, including using an age simulation suit and vision impairment technology in various real-world scenarios, to help students understand the challenges facing senior citizens. Using biblical themes and integration, Layell promotes a Christian worldview in his students. Layell’s teaching philosophy focuses on student engagement and hands-on design experiences, including field trips to active construction sites on campus and inviting field experts to speak to his students.


James Mashburn

Associate Professor, School of Aeronautics

In addition to his academic qualifications, Mashburn holds licenses as a commercial pilot and Certified Flight Instructor. An expert in aviation leadership, he ensures that his students receive training on communication and leadership. Mashburn actively engages every student, encouraging participation throughout his class. Extending his student engagement beyond the classroom, Mashburn developed a field mentoring guide for flight instructors to use with their students.


Dr. S. Alexander Mason

Department Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Mason teaches a new course on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, which addresses technology, ethics, and Christian faith using AI-informed creative arts projects, speed debates, and an interactive crisis scenario. He encourages active student participation and involvement by applying the Socratic method. Mason contributes to his field by developing and administrating NEXUS: the Liberty Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, a student research journal.


Dr. Andrea Smith

Online Chair and Assistant Professor, School of Aeronautics

Smith considers technology vital to aviation training, and she integrates artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and simulation technology into courses. She contributes to internal and external research, serves as a dissertation committee member, and maintains membership in the Women in Aviation and the University Aviation Association organizations.

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