College Honors Faculty with Distinguished Awards
Campus News

Four Franklin College faculty members and one adjunct faculty member received awards recognizing their scholarly accomplishments at the annual Faculty Recognition Luncheon, hosted by the Franklin College Board of Trustees in October.

The distinguished faculty include:

Benjamin O’Neal, Ph.D. received the Clifford and Paula Dietz Award for Faculty Excellence. The award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates extraordinary dedication and commitment in service to the college. It is given by a vote of the Franklin College Board of Trustees, upon recommendation of the president and the academic dean of the college.

O’Neal is a professor of biology, and serves as the chair of the biology department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis on environmental studies from Anderson University. He continued his education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he received his master’s degree in natural resources and environmental sciences and his doctorate in wildlife ecology. O’Neal began teaching at Franklin College in 2010.

While at Franklin, O’Neal has received grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to support avian ecology research involving Franklin College field biology students. Along with colleagues from the University of Illinois, he received a grant from the USDA to fund conservation practices on agricultural lands in the Midwest. Beginning in 2015, he and his students initiated a long-term wetland monitoring project funded by the Hants Lake Conservancy. O’Neal also was instrumental in partnering with Ball State University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in securing a record four-year grant to study the management of Canada geese populations in urban settings across central Indiana. The study is helping students learn how to manage these creatures while immersing themselves in the practical work of wildlife research and management. Currently, O’Neal and his students are collaborating with partners from five Great Lakes states to conduct a large-scale investigation of the regional mallard population. Their team employs satellite tracking, genetic analyses and stable isotope analyses to uncover key patterns in this critical population.

O’Neal also serves as the adviser for the college’s pre-veterinary science track. Recently, he and his partners at Sunovis Ranch secured a grant from the Indiana Sheep and Wool Market Development Program, allowing pre-veterinary students the opportunity to experience immersive, mentored sheep research in the context of a working solar grazing farm.

A colleague who nominated O’Neal for the award wrote: “Professor O’Neal’s willingness to pursue new endeavors and challenge ideas, both internally and externally, aligns with the critical thinking skills we strive to bring out in our students, while his successful pursuit of external research demonstrates a passion for continuous learning. Moreover, his work connects but also transcends various groups including students, state and federal officials, private business owners, alumni and his own colleagues.”

O’Neal has published numerous scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and often presents at conferences and workshops. He was recognized by the college in 2015 with the Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award. He resides in Franklin.

Richard Erable, Ph.D., received the Faculty Steering Committee Distinguished Service Award. The recipient of this award is a faculty member who shows outstanding service to the college.

Erable, professor of English, joined the Franklin College faculty in 2001. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from California State University at Sacramento. He continued his education at Marquette University in Wisconsin, earning both a master’s degree and doctoral degree in English.

Erable has demonstrated outstanding service to the students of Franklin College outside of his classroom. In one nomination, he was praised for regularly leading students to France during Immersive Term to study culture and language. He serves as an advocate for the Office of Global Education by promoting study abroad to all students. He also supports the cultural activities of the Modern Language House on campus. Erable has also supported the Intercultural Honors Experience (IHE) by serving on the leadership team and providing opportunities for students to learn about diverse cultures, have robust undergraduate research opportunities and obtain funds for studying abroad.

Erable has also demonstrated outstanding service to his fellow colleagues and to the college as a whole. During his tenure at Franklin, he has served in numerous leadership roles and on important faculty committees. He served as a three-time interim division head, and has been a member of multiple faculty search committees, combing through hundreds of applications to find the perfect candidate for each position. As a member of the Faculty Curriculum Committee, he contributed to the faculty oversight of the college curriculum and shaped the discussion as the college integrated new graduate programs with the rest of campus. He also served as one of the first faculty admissions liaisons. He has been elected by his peers to the Promotion and Tenure Committee and has twice been elected to serve on the Faculty Steering Committee (FSC). In his latest stint on the FSC, Erable has served as chair for two years of his three-year term and has led the faculty through several administrative changes as well as through the onset and persistence of COVID, which required the entire faculty to adjust to providing distance learning to students in a matter of days.

“Dr. Erable’s service is further notable for his vocal advocacy on behalf of the faculty, his constant push to gain broad faculty input on the wide range of issues before it, and his penchant for demanding data to be used to drive policy decisions,” wrote another nominator. Erable resides in Franklin.

Meredith Clark-Wiltz, Ph.D. received the Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award. The award recognizes a faculty member’s scholarly achievement at the college, as well as his/her work outside the college (publications, presentations, etc.).

Clark-Wiltz, associate professor of history, chair of the history department and director of the Women’s Studies Program, joined the Franklin College faculty in 2011. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where she majored in history, political science and English. She earned her master’s degree in history from Bowling Green State University and her doctoral degree in history from Ohio State University.

One nominator wrote: “While serving as the Honorable Roger D. Branigin Chair in History and balancing a full course load, Dr. Clark-Wiltz has earned several competitive grants and completed numerous community-based projects in the past seven years.” These projects have enabled her and her students to produce projects that have benefited the college, the Franklin community and Johnson County. An example of one of these projects include partnering with the Johnson County Museum of History to secure the Wonder Five Historical Marker on campus, honoring the historical Franklin high school and Franklin College basketball team at the site of the team’s college gymnasium. This particular project earned the Outstanding Collaborative Project Award from the Indiana Historical Society.

Clark-Wiltz has received grants from the Indiana Campus Compact, Community Engaged Alliance, and Council of Independent Colleges that support undergraduate research for community-facing projects. Similarly, she has also served as the project coordinator for the Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 grant, sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, the National Endowment of the Humanities and the American Library Association. Franklin College was one of only 50 sites nationwide and the only one in Indiana to host the traveling exhibit

Additionally, Clark-Wiltz has given numerous presentations at national, regional, and Indiana conferences, including the National Humanities Alliance, Organization of American Historians, Council of Independent Colleges, National Council on Public History, Black Women’s Intellectual and Cultural History, and The Teaching Professor, as well as being an invited speaker for the University of Louisiana, Indianapolis Historical Society and University of North Carolina. Clark-Wiltz is a resident of Franklin.

 Joel Cramer, J.D., received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award. The award recognizes a faculty member who exhibits excellence in mastery of subject and effective communication, has respect for all students, and believes that all students can learn and provides helpful feedback to other students in a number of ways.

Cramer serves Franklin College as a professor of journalism and the Chair of the Pulliam School of Journalism. He joined the faculty in 1985. He received his bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University, his master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and his law degree from Indiana University School of Law.

During his 37 years in the classroom, his expertise has included media law, broadcast journalism, videography and photography. Students praise Cramer’s ability to ensure that they understand the concepts he’s teaching, why those concepts exist and how to accomplish them. He provides ample time in class for practicing each new concept to make sure students are confident in their abilities.

Students also appreciate his willingness to assist them in any way possible. “I’ve never seen him turn away a student who’s asking for help,” said one nominator. “He’s extremely generous with his time—inside and outside of class. I’ve met with him during his office hours many times for many different reasons—whether I need help with a camera or want his opinion on the best way to cut from one shot to the next when editing—and he’s always excited to help.”

“In the classroom, Cramer is a strong advocate of the liberal arts, often connecting two subjects whenever a lesson from another class overlaps with what he is teaching,” said another nominator. “Anytime something from another class overlaps with what he’s teaching, he’ll say, ‘Here’s your liberal arts moment of the day’ and connect the two subjects.”

This marks the second time Cramer has earned this distinguished award. He was also recognized in the past with the Clifford and Paula Dietz Award for Faculty Excellence and the Academic Advisor of the Year Award. Cramer is a resident of Avon.

The final award bestowed at the Faculty Recognition Luncheon was the Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award. It is designed to honor a commendable faculty member who is not in a tenure-track position, has completed two or more semesters teaching and has taught a minimum of 12 credit hours at Franklin College. The award was established in 2012.

Clark Hadley was recognized as the recipient of the 2022 Franklin College Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award. He serves the college as lecturer of earth science in the science department. Hadley started working at Franklin College in the fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year.

Hadley received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Earlham College before earning a master’s degree for teachers in general science from Indiana University. He taught science at the middle school level in Martinsville for 43 years before transitioning to teaching at the collegiate level, where he brought his enthusiasm for science with him.

“Clark has exhibited a courteous, respectful, helpful attitude and has been a very popular faculty member among the students,” said one nominator. “He teaches the earth science course and it has been one of the most popular exploratory science courses. I have observed his course in the past and he is very enthusiastic about science. He explains scientific principles in a crystal-clear way and he is very skilled at using multi-media to illustrate points.”

Another nominator praised Hadley’s teaching style: “Clark is very personable and makes the students in his class comfortable although the word “science” is in the course title. He relates exceptionally well to the students taking his class to fulfill a liberal arts requirement. He loves interacting with these students and shows his enthusiasm every day when he comes to class by wearing wild and crazy lab coats, telling corny jokes that the students love, and helping them make connections to the natural world while having fun.” Hadley resides in Mooresville.

Contact the Franklin College Office of Communications for more information at (317) 738-8185.

POSTED Nov 21, 2022