Indiana State University Newsroom

Acree receives President’s Medal; other faculty honored

April 30, 2019

Indiana State University honored five educators during its annual Faculty Recognition Banquet Thursday evening.

Indiana State President Deborah Curtis presented the President's Medal -- the university's highest award for faculty -- to Esther L. Acree, associate professor and program director of the licensed practical nurse (LPN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

"I am so humbled by this honor. I never expected to ever receive this award," Acree said. "This medal is a part of my love for ISU. My first ISU memories were of my parents taking me to ISU when alumni activities were happening and would affect the Clay County alumni."

Those formative experiences nurtured a strong desire in Acree to attend Indiana State, but nursing wasn't a degree program offered at that time. "When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I wrote a letter to then ISU President Raleigh Holmstedt that I wanted a nursing program at ISU," she said. "He wrote back that he would work on that for me. He did, and I was part of the third class to enter the ISU School of Nursing in 1965."

After she graduated in 1969, Acree joined ISU's clinical faculty from 1970 to 1977 while working part-time at Clay County Hospital.

"I wanted to teach at ISU," she added. "After earning my Master's of Nursing and specialist degree in primary care nursing from Indiana University, Dr. Maryanne Roehm, dean of the School of Nursing, asked me to apply in 1980. From then until now, I have been part of ISU and its many changes in the university, college and School of Nursing."

As LPN-to-BSN program director, Acree has been involved in placing students in every state. The LPN-BSN and RN-BSN program are ranked among the Best Online LPN and Best BSN programs in the nation. Acree has taught in all levels of the nursing program except the new doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP).

The President's Medal is a crowning moment to the many positions, committees and task forces she has participated in and helped shape many of the changes at the university, she said.

"Nursing's voice at the university level is so important. It is also important in the classroom and to the lives I have touched in my teaching and my work to help with these changes," she said. "Many of my former students are part of the present day nursing faculty or are working in many different nursing roles from staff nurses to school nurses and leaders in nursing all over the state and many other states. I am so proud to have touched their lives and they have touched mine in return."

Acree is also committed to practical service. She has been a certified family nurse practitioner since 1980 and maintains professional practice at Johnson-Nichols Clinic in Greencastle with clients in Putnam and Owen counties since 1979. In addition to being president of the Indiana State Nurses Association from 1993-1997, Acree is a member of the Governor's Advisory Board, Office of Women's Health, since 1998.

Acree's previous awards include Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.

Other faculty award recipients include:

• Namita Goswami, associate professor of philosophy, received the Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award. Named for a 19th century educator who helped to shape Indiana's public education system and served as the state's second superintendent of public instruction, the Mills Award recognizes Indiana State's most distinguished teachers.

"Having previously taught in Chicago, I was unsure of what to expect when I moved to Terre Haute. Now, as I look back on this journey, my students have been my fellow travelers in every way. We work together to create a sense of vision and community by learning how to ask questions that matter. I witness firsthand their humor, sincerity and persistence; they surprise me every day with their creativity and fortitude," Goswami said. "One of the best parts of teaching is students' ability to provide a sense of hope, that some battles can be put to rest, and we may move on to clearing a space for others who now follow. My task has been to foster their idealism, just as they never fail to challenge or to inspire me. I am grateful that my students feel respected and valued as individuals and know that I am in their corner and ready to help. I am also thankful for the many colleagues who have lent their support and advice. Thank you for this recognition."

Goswami has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters and other publications. Her book "Subjects That Matter: Philosophy, Feminism, and Postcolonial Theory (State University of New York Press) is set to be released Aug. 1, and "Living in the Rhythm of the Eco-Biome: Essays on Gayatri Spivak" is in progress. She also co-edited the book "Why Race and Gender Still Matter: An Intersectional Approach" (Pickering & Chatto, 2014).

In addition to faculty service at the university, college and department level, Goswami is a member of the philoSOPHIA: A Feminist Society's executive board, the National Women's Studies Association, Trans Caucus, Scholarship Award Committee, and the Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies' editorial board.

Goswami earned a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and her master's and doctorate from Emory University.

• David Nichols, professor of history, was honored with the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research/Creativity Award. Named for the early 20th century author who grew up in Terre Haute, the Dreiser Award recognizes full-time Indiana State faculty who have made outstanding contributions to their disciplines.

"I am deeply gratified and humbled by this honor. It testifies to ISU's support of and commitment to research, and its recognition that faculty research and creativity contribute to better teaching and better engagement with the community," Nichols said.

In addition to a host of peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and book reviews, Nichols has written three books: "Red Gentlemen & White Savages: Indians, Federalists, and the Search for Order on the American Frontier" (University of Virginia Press, 2008); "Engines of Diplomacy: Indian Trading Factories and the Negotiation of American Empire" (University of North Carolina Press, 2016); and "Peoples of the Inland Sea: Native Americans and Newcomers in the Great Lakes Region, 1600-1870" (Ohio University Press, 2018). The manuscript for his fourth book, "To Be Men of Business: The Chickasaws' Economic Revolution, 1715-1865" is expected to be completed summer 2019.

His professional service includes the North American review editorship for "Ethnohistory," membership on the editorial board of "Ohio Valley History," and contributions to prize and membership committees for the American Society for Ethnohistory and the Southern History Association.

Nichols earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

• Liz Brown, professor and chair of the math and computer science department, was presented with the Faculty Distinguished Service Award in recognition of outstanding contributions outside the classroom.

"Receiving the Faculty Distinguished Service Award has given me the opportunity to reflect on my professional activities," Brown said. "I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job in which there is not only the option for me to engage in service to ISU and other communities, but it is an expectation of my role as a faculty member. It is an honor for my work to be recognized by my colleagues."

In addition to publishing numerous papers, earning sponsored research and presenting at conferences, Brown has participated in a host of curriculum development efforts at Indiana State. She serves in a variety of capacities at the university, college and department levels, including vice chair of Faculty Senate this year.

Her professional affiliations include Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), Hoosier Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (HAMTE), Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM), International Consortium for Research in Science and Mathematics Education (ICRSME), Mathematical Association of America (MAA), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and the Association of American University Professors (AAUP).

Brown's other awards include the Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching AwardIndiana State University in 2011, Outstanding Dedication to First Year Student Academic Success Award from the ISU Office of Residential Life in 2009 and the College of Arts and Sciences' Educational Excellence Award in 2004.

Brown earned a bachelor's in mathematics (emphasis in applied mathematics, magna cum laude) from San Diego State University and both her master's in mathematics and doctorate in teaching and learning (emphasis in mathematics education) from the University of Utah.

• Julia Reynolds, assistant professor of music, was presented the Community-Based Learning and Scholarship Award. The award recognizes outstanding faculty who have made serving the community an integral part of their academic goals and activities.

"Receiving this award is the university recognizing that the service we provide in the community as faculty members matters," Reynolds said. "I am honored to be acknowledged for doing something I love for a population of students that are traditionally underserved. Music is for everyone, and through this project I was able to include students from all over the area in an educational program that brought them to our campus and interacting with our Indiana State students. This award means that teaching is valued and allows me to show my students that one small idea can impact so many people."

Reynolds initiated Indiana State University's first Sensory Friendly Educational Program in 2018 featuring the University Symphony Orchestra's performance of "Peter and the Wolf." The inclusive concert was open to the public and provided accommodations for audience members with exceptionalities, who may be more sensitive to the traditional concert environment. The educational program reached surrounding Terre Haute schools and was led by music education students under Reynold's direction. A second program is planned for April 2020.

In addition to presenting guest lectures locally, regionally and abroad, Reynolds has authored numerous publications. Among her community service efforts are serving as chair-elect for NAfME Children with Exceptionalities SRIG, coordinator of the Indiana State University Sensory Friendly Program (2018) and coordinator of the Bucket Drumming Program/Ryves Center (2015-2017). She has also been named as the president-elect for the Indiana Music Education Association.

Reynolds won the Charlotte Zietlow Women Faculty Research Award in 2018. She is a member of the International Society for Music Education (ISME), National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA).

Reynolds earned a Bachelor of Music Education (K-12), Master of Music Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education from Florida State University.


Photos: -- Esther L. Acree, associate professor and program director of the licensed practical nurse (LPN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, is presented with the President's Medal at the faculty awards banquet Thursday evening. From left are Provost Mike Licari, Acree, President Deborah Curtis and College of Health and Human Services Dean Caroline Mallory. -- An emotional Acree makes remarks after receiving the President's Medal. -- Acree -- Goswami -- Nichols -- Brown -- Reynolds

Media contact: Libby Roerig, University Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or