Three people standing together. Ackley in center holds award.

Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Dr. Liz Ackley and Peter Blake, director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Clem Britt Photography 

3.02.2022
By Roanoke College News

Ackley recognized with Outstanding Faculty Award at Virginia General Assembly

Dr. Liz Ackley, the Brian H. Thornhill Associate Professor of Health & Human Performance at Roanoke College, was honored March 1 at the Virginia General Assembly as one of 12 recipients of the 2022 Outstanding Faculty Awards by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and Dominion Energy.  Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera and Peter Blake, director of SCHEV, presented the award. Roanoke College President Michael Maxey attended the ceremony, along with Ackley’s colleagues, Dr. Matt Rearick, Dr. Karin Saoub and members of Ackley’s family.  

Ackley is one of only two professors at private Virginia colleges honored with the 2022 award, and she is the sixth Roanoke College professor to receive this recognition. The award recognizes outstanding faculty for their work in four areas: teaching, discovery, knowledge integration and service. Other Roanoke College professors who have received the Outstanding Faculty Award from SCHEV are:  

  • Dr. Gregory Weiss, professor of sociology (2004) 
  • Dr. Roland Minton, professor of mathematics (2005) 
  • Dr. Melanie Almeder, John P. Fishwick Professor of English (2011) 
  • Dr. Paul Hanstedt, professor of English (2013) 
  • Dr. Valerie Banschbach, professor of environmental studies (2019) 

“It was an absolute joy being surrounded by family, friends and colleagues on such a special day,” Ackley said.  

“If we were to mint a professor who was designed to engage students in community-altering research, to inspire students through her instructional talent, to provide leadership to college and community in ample doses, the professor would be Dr. Ackley,” Michael C. Maxey, president of Roanoke College, said in the nomination of Ackley for the award.   

 

“Dr. Ackley has a knack for identifying our strengths as students and has a way to challenge and encourage us at the same time. She is also an amazing person in general, and her love for teaching and mentoring at Roanoke College is apparent to everyone.”

Kavya Iyer ‘22

“She is truly a special person,” Bryn Haden ‘22 said. “Having her as a teacher and as a research mentor has been my favorite and most beneficial component of being a student at Roanoke College. She brings so much energy and happiness to everything that she does, it is hard to not have it be contagious.” Haden is a senior with double majors in health and exercise science and public health.  

The nomination of Ackley referenced the novel health surveillance methodology she created to identify geographic inequities in the social, environmental and economic factors contributing to health disparities in children. Her surveillance system, the Roanoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index, has since grown to become one of the largest, most successful translational research models of its kind. 

Kavya Iyer ‘22 has worked with Ackley through the Center for Community Health Innovation, an effort begun by Ackley to develop strategies to reduce community-level health inequities in the Roanoke Valley. Iyer is a senior biochemistry major and math minor in the Honors Program. Another professor referred Iyer to Ackley as a possible supervisor for her Honors Distinction project. “I became really excited about the prospect of combining some of my math and statistics background on a surveillance system at the Center for Community Health Innovation to understand perceptions of resources in neighborhoods in Roanoke City and how it impacts families,” Iyer said. “Any analyses that we do directly lead to tangible results in the community which is incredibly rewarding.” 

“Over these past three semesters, I have had amazing opportunities to present at state and even national conferences and learn more about the exercise science field in general from Dr. Ackley,” Iyer said. “Dr. Ackley has a knack for identifying our strengths as students and has a way to challenge and encourage us at the same time. She is also an amazing person in general, and her love for teaching and mentoring at Roanoke College is apparent to everyone.” 

Ackley, who joined the Roanoke College faculty in 2010, holds a B.S. in exercise science from the State University of New York at Cortland College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in health and human performance from Middle Tennessee State University.