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Grisham Awards

Grisham Master Teacher Awards

The Grisham Master Teacher Award provides a stipend of $10,000 for up to 2 award winners per academic year. The University Instructional Improvement Committee will evaluate and select applicants from qualified individuals who apply for this award based on criteria such as engagement of students in learning, assessment of teaching and learning, clarity and organization of teaching, variety of teaching methods, enthusiasm, scholarship of teaching, etc. All current full-time faculty (regardless of rank) are eligible to apply for this award if the following eligibility requirements are met: You must be teaching at least one course during Fall or Spring semester for the academic calendar year in order to allow for an in-class observation. Applicants must have at least 7 years of experience at MSU teaching primarily undergraduates. Information on how to apply will be posted each Fall semester under the Provost's office Announcement page.


Eric Vivier

Dr. Eric Vivier is an associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a Faculty Fellow within the Shackouls Honors College. Dr. Vivier regularly teaches in the honors curriculum called the cursus honorum. As he teaches students from a wide range of disciplines, he has proved his ability to excite students about learning and ongoing learning, even in areas which they may otherwise have had limited engagement. In addition to his core honors Quest classes, he teaches courses such as Early Shakespeare, Contemporary Literary Theory, Critical Writing and Research, and British Survey to 1800. He also has developed a special topics course on satire.

Dr. Vivier has become known by colleagues as an “accomplished and transformative teacher” since he joined the MSU faculty in 2014. In 2019, he was honored with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Outstanding Teaching Award in the Humanities. He is known for his effective teaching approach of having students learn to argue both sides of a question as a means of improving critical thinking skills. In addition to his high-quality teaching, he has an excellent ability to foster a sense of community within his classes. His students also appreciate his role, which often extends beyond the classroom, as a trusted mentor.

Dr. Vivier earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in English Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated from his English undergraduate program with highest honors from Duke University.


Michael Breazeale
Michael Breazeale

Dr. Michael Breazeale is an Associate Professor in the College of Business’s Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, where he also is Director of the Market Innovation Lab and Observatory and serves as the college’s inclusion and diversity officer. He conveys a true enthusiasm for his field and a desire to impact and improve students’ lives. Dr. Breazeale has a reputation for excellence not only in his teaching, research and service, but also in collegiality, and he is highly regarded by colleagues. A gifted communicator who engages undergraduate and graduate students, he consistently gets high marks on course evaluations. He understands the importance of continuous improvement and focuses on individuals as he inspires the desire to excel. Dr. Breazeale’s branding expertise, classroom creativity and zeal for learning are some of the reasons students list his courses among the best. He completed his Ph.D. in marketing at Mississippi State University, and he has an undergraduate degree in accounting from Millsaps College.

Deb Mlsna
Deb Mlsna

Dr. Deb Mlsna is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. Colleagues describe her as having the highest commitment to helping students have the best learning experience possible. With a broad range of courses taught within the chemistry department, her teaching is meticulously organized and diligently prepared. She is a proponent of strong curricula and has developed over 20 courses. One of her nominators explained that her deep engagement and explanations of concepts help students “form mental connections that lead to lifelong learning as opposed to the temporary gains of rote memorization.” She is a teacher who energetically encourages student involvement and consistently puts students first to ensure their development. Dr. Mlsna is highly regarded by her colleagues and has been recognized with the department’s Outstanding Faculty Award three times. She is supportive of the university’s pre-health students and an advocate for undergraduate research programs. A former student describes Dr. Mlsna’s characteristics of “resilience, determination and perseverance” as making her a “role model like no other.” Dr. Mlsna has a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Texas-Austin and an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Davidson College.

Jacob Tschume
Jacob Tschume

Mr. Jacob Tschume is an instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Though his classes are very large, with hundreds of students under his instruction each semester, he has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to help his students succeed. He understands that many students are somewhat apprehensive about their required mathematics courses, but his teaching approach helps them build confidence—even taking some from trepidation to enjoyment of math. While he is known as a challenging teacher who does not cut corners and who upholds rigorous standards, his students gain the advantage of performing above-average in their subsequent courses. Students describe an appreciation for his sense of humor as well as his devotion to helping them understand course material. He also has helped many first-time teachers implement successful teaching methods. Additionally, his effective use of technology in the classroom has led to increased participation and student success. Mr. Tschume has a master’s degree in mathematics from Mississippi State, and he also completed his math undergraduate degree with a minor in statistics at MSU.


Richard Harkess
Richard Harkess

Dr. Richard Harkess is a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, where he serves as undergraduate student advisor, supervises horticulture student internships, chairs the department's undergraduate curriculum committee and advises the Horticulture Club. He has received numerous accolades for teaching, research and mentorship. In addition to his work with students, he mentors many younger faculty members in time management, course syllabus development, and navigating the tenure and promotion process. He is known as a dedicated teacher and mentor who works diligently to prepare others for success. A faculty member since 1995, Dr. Harkess earned a Ph.D. in horticulture from Virginia Tech in 1993. He received a master's degree from Colorado State University in 1989 and a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1987.

Lyndsey Miller
Lyndsey Miller
Lesley Strawderman
Lesley Strawderman

Dr. Lesley Strawderman is a Bagley College of Engineering professor and International Paper Chair in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She balances a demanding teaching schedule with a very active research program. She is known as a particularly engaging teacher, who also advises the Society of Women Engineers. Dr. Strawderman incorporates technology, community engagement, active and peer learning, and other innovations into the curriculum so that students enjoy learning new concepts. She has served as the undergraduate coordinator for her department and recently was named to the Center for Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow Program. She also leads workshops for industry professionals, as well as ISE and college faculty. A faculty member since 2006, Dr. Strawderman completed her 2005 Ph.D. and 2003 master's in industrial engineering at Pennsylvania State University. She completed her bachelor's degree at Kansas State University in 2002.


Michael Kardos
Michael Kardos

Michael Kardos is a professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State. He is the author of three novels, a short story collection, and a widely used college-level textbook on fiction writing, and has won a Pushcart Prize and the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for fiction.


Robert Banik
Robert Banik

Robert Banik is an Instructor and Undergraduate Advising Coordinator in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Mississippi State University. Along with the 2018 John Grisham Master Teacher Award, Robert also received the 2017 College of Arts & Sciences Teaching Award in Natural and Physical Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics and the MSU State Pride Faculty Award in 2011.

James Giesen
2018 James Giesen

Dr. James Giesen, associate professor of history, has won departmental and university teaching awards including the Graduate Mentor of the Year award. In 2019, the Agricultural History Society created the Giesen Agricultural History Teaching Award in his honor.


Joanne Beriswill
2017 Joanne Beriswill

Dr. Joanne Beriswill, recipient of the Grisham Master Teacher Award in 2017, also was awarded the Educator of the Year Award from the Mississippi Educational Computing Association in 2011. She is Associate Professor for the Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development in the College of Education.


Kelly Marsh
2016 Kelly Marsh

Dr. Kelly Marsh is Associate Professor of English. She has been awarded the Outstanding Honors Faculty Award and the Mississippi Humanities Council Humanities Teacher Award. Dr. Marsh is a Faculty Associate in the Center for Teaching and Learning.


Karyn Brown
2015 Karyn Brown

In 2014, Karyn Brown was awarded the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Public Relations Educator of the Year award along with MSU-Lambda Pi Eta Faculty Member of the Year for years 2014 and 2015. In 2011, she was the recipient of the MSU Ritter Greek Awards PanHellenic Council Faculty Member of the Year. Mrs. Brown is a Communication Instructor as well as the Coordinator of Public Relations Concentration and Director of Communication for the College of Arts and Sciences.


Meghan Millea
2014 Meghan Millea

Dr. Meghan Millea, Professor of Finance and Economics, was awarded the Alumni Association Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2012, and she was recognized by the legislature for being Mississippi State University's Higher Education Appreciate Day, Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) honoree. In 2011, she received the College of Business State Pride Award and the Mississippi State University Louis A. Hurst Outstanding Faculty Award. Dr. Millea is a Research Fellow with the Social Science Research Center and an Interim Dean for the MSU Meridian Campus.


Kimberly Walters
2013 Kimberly Walters

Kimberly Walters is an Instructor of Mathematics for Mississippi State University. She was awarded the MSU State Pride Faculty Award in 2010, and she received the John Grisham Master Teach Award in 2013. Mrs. Walters was recognized by the Mississippi Legislature in 2014 for being Mississippi State's Higher Education Appreciate Day, Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) honoree.


James Dunne
2012 James Dunne

Dr. James Dunne was the recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award presented by the MSU Alumni Association in 2010. He is a Professor of Physics, Astronomy, and Experimental Medium and High Energy Nuclear Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Dunne is also a Faculty Associate in The Center for Teaching and Learning.


Michael Seymour
2011 Micheal Seymour

Dr. Michael Seymour is the Graduate Coordinator and an Associate Professor for the Department of Landscape Architecture. In 2013, he received the Teaching Award, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture and in 2012, the Excellence in Teaching Award, The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA). Dr. Seymour is also a Faculty Associate in The Center for Teaching and Learning.


Rachel McCann
2010 Rachel McCann

Dr. Rachel McCann, a professor in the School of Architecture, was honored as the 2009 recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award presented by the MSU Alumni Association.


Christopher Monson
2009 Christopher Monson


Robert Moore
2008 Robert Moore

Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, Grisham Master Teacher Award. The MSU Alumni Association and Provost's Office sponsored the annual recognition program held Tuesday night.  (Apr 23, 2008 Photo by Kristen Hines)


Robert Reese
2007 Robert Reese

During Mississippi State's 2007 Faculty Awards and Recognition Program Thursday, three faculty members received university-wide honors. Robert B. Reese, left, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the John Grisham Master Teacher Award; Darren Hudson, professor of agricultural economics, received the MSU Alumni Association Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award; and Ray Vaughn (not pictured), professor of computer science and engineering, was named a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor. (Apr 27, 2007 Photo by Megan Bean)


Keith Koenig
2006 Keith Koenig

During Mississippi State's 2006 Faculty Awards and Recognition Program, three faculty members received university-wide honors. Arthur G. Cosby (l) was named a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor, while Keith Koenig (c) received the John Grisham Master Teacher Award and Robert B. Reese, the MSU Alumni Association Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award. Cosby is director of the Social Science Research Center; Koenig, an aerospace engineering professor; and Reese, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. (Apr 06, 2006 Photo by Russ Houston)


Melissa Moore
2005 Melissa Moore

Mississippi State faculty member Melissa Moore accepts the 2005 John Grisham Master Teacher Award from Louis R. D'Abramo, chair of the University Instructional Improvement Committee, during Tuesday's 40th annual faculty recognition event. Moore is an associate professor of marketing, quantitative analysis and business law in MSU's College of Business and Industry. The award recognizes excellence in teaching. (Apr 27, 2005 Photo by Russ Houston)


Thomas P. Cathcart
2004 Thomas Cathcart

John Grisham Master Teacher Award winners for 2004 are Thomas P. Cathcart, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and Jamie B. Mixon, professor of art.


Allison W. Pearson and Donna S. Reese
2003 Allison Pearson

Associate professors Allison W. Pearson (l) and Donna S. Reese received 2003 John Grisham Awards. Pearson, a member of the management and information systems faculty, and Reese, of computer science and engineering, are both Grisham Master Teachers.


Rodney A. Pearson
2002 Rodney Pearson

Rodney A. Pearson was selected as 2002 Grisham Master Teacher. Pearson is a Professor of Management Information Systems at the College of Business and Industry.


Louis R. D'Abramo, William N. Smyer, Kenneth M. Coffey, and Masoud Rais-Rohani
2001 Louis

The 2001 additions include (l-r) Dr. Louis R. D'Abramo, professor, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Dr. William N. Smyer, associate professor, Department of Industrial Engineering; Dr. Kenneth M. Coffey, associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction; and Dr. Masoud Rais-Rohani, associate professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering.


Marita Gootee, Keith L. Belli, Matt R. Raven, Diane L. Daniels, and L. Wes Burger Jr.
2000 Marita Gootee

The 2000 additions include (l-r) Marita Gootee of art; Keith L. Belli of forestry; Matt R. Raven of information technology services; Diane L. Daniels of mathematics and statistics; and L. Wes Burger Jr. of wildlife and fisheries.


Richard B. Wolf, Linda W. Morse, Steven H. Bullard, Marion B. Couvillion, and Karen S. Coats
1998 Richard Wolf

Author and MSU alumnus John Grisham (c) presented the five Grisham Master Teacher awards at a recent campus ceremony. Grisham Master Teachers for 1998 are (l-r) Richard B. Wolf, English; Linda W. Morse, educational psychology; Steven H. Bullard, forestry; Marion B. Couvillion, communication; and Karen S. Coats, biological sciences.


Benjamin Blaney, Noel Addy, Howard Miller, and Shannon Criss
1997 Benjamin Blaney

The new Grisham Master Teachers for 1997 winners pictured with President Donald Zacharias, include (left to right) Dr. Benjamin Blaney, Professor of Foreign Language; Dr. Noel Addy, Associate Professor of Accountancy; and Dr. Howard Miller, Professor Emeritus of Animal & Dairy Sciences. Not pictured is Dr. Shannon Criss, Associate Professor of Architecture.


Esther H. Egley, Rebecca Toghiani, Michael Newman, Paul Grootkerk, and Nancy G. McCarley
1996 Esther Egley

The 1996 Grisham Master Teachers at Mississippi State University included (left to right) Esther H. Egley, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction; Rebecca Toghiani, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering; Michael Newman, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education; Paul Grootkerk, Professor of Art; and Nancy G. McCarley, Lecturer in Psychology.


Larry L. Branch and Nancy D. Hargrove
1995 Larry Branch

The John Grisham master Teachers and Faculty Excellence Award winners for 1995 were announced at Fall Faculty Convocation. Larry L. Branch (left), Engineering Graphics, and Nancy D. Hargrove, English, are Grisham Master Teachers.


Sandra H. Harpole, Hank Flick, and Robert E. Wolverton Sr.
1994 Sandra Harpole

Drs. Sandra H. Harpole and Hank Flick, second from right, were among three faculty members receiving 1994-95 John Grisham Master Teacher Awards at Mississippi State. Also honored at the recent faculty convocation was Dr. Robert E. Wolverton Sr., who was out of town. Harpole is an Associate Professor of Physics; Flick, Professor of Communication and Assistant Department Head; and Wolverton, Professor and Head of Foreign Languages. Extending congratulations were President Donald Zacharias, left, and Provost Derek Hodgson. The awards include $3,000 a year for two years. Master teachers serve as role models and mentors for their colleagues during the 48-month period.


Sue Minchew, Kathleen (Kit) T. Brown, Tom Carskadon, and B. Keith Hodge
1993 Sue Minchew

Five faculty members were also honored for teaching excellence on August 20, 1993 during the fall semester Faculty Convocation. Hank Flick of the Communication Department, left, received the $2,500 Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award, while $3,000 Master Teacher Awards went to, second from left to right, Sue Minchew of the English Department, Kathleen (Kit) T. Brown of the Foreign Languages Department, Tom Carskadon of the Psychology Department, and B. Keith Hodge of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Grisham Faculty Excellence Award

(no longer awarded as of 1998)


Chante Cox, John Usher, Gary Myers, John Forde, Roy Decker
1997 Chante Cox

The 1996 Grisham Teaching Excellence Award at Mississippi State University, pictured with President Donald Zacharias, included (left to right) Dr. Chante Cox, Assistant Professor of Psychology; Dr. John Usher, Associate Professor, Industrial Engineering; Dr. Gary Myers, English; Dr. John Forde, Associate Professor, Communication, Dr. Roy Decker, Architecture.


Gregory J. Watson, Masoud Rais-Rohani, Ricky L. Travis, Jamie B. Mixon, Douglas W. McConnell
1996 Gregory Watson

The new Grisham Teaching Excellence Award 1996 winners include (left to right) Gregory J. Watson, Assistant Professor of Architecture; Masoud Rais-Rohani, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering; Ricky L. Travis, Assistant Professor of Political Science; and Jamie B. Mixon, Associate Professor of Art. Not pictured is Douglas W. McConnell, Associate Professor of Music Education.


Linda K. Seckinger, Richard M. Kaminski, and Lynn L. Reinschmiedt
1995 Linda Seckinger

Linda K. Seckinger (far left), Art; Richard M. Kaminski, Wildlife and Fisheries; and Lynn L. Reinschmiedt (far right), Agricultural Economics, were winners of Grisham Faculty Excellence Awards in 1995. The awards are accompanied by $2,000 checks. Faculty Convocation was led this year by Mary A. Jasper (second from right), Associate Professor of Engineering Graphics.


Louis R. D'Abramo, Christopher M. Duncan, Margaret S. Bateman, Jung P. Shim, Paul Grootkerk, and Brent Funderburk
1994 Louis Dabramo

Six Mississippi State instructors began the 1994-95 school year as new holders of John Grisham Faculty Excellence Awards. At the faculty convocation, the awards were presented to, from left, Dr. Louis R. D'Abramo, Dr. Christopher M. Duncan, Margaret S. Bateman, Dr. Jung P. Shim, Dr. Paul Grootkerk, and Brent Funderburk. D'Abramo is a professor of Wildlife and Fisheries; Duncan, Assistant Professor of Political Science; Bateman, Assistant Professor of Home Economics; Shim, Professor of Information Systems and Management Science; and Grootkerk and Funderburk, both Professors of Art. The awards are accompanied by $2,000 checks.


Clyde Williams, Patrick Creevy, Jack L. Bartlett, and John W. Fuquay
1993 Clyde Williams

The first John Grisham Faculty Excellence Awards were presented Aug. 20, 1993 during the fall semester Faculty Convocation. Honored were from left, Clyde Williams and Patrick Creevy of the English Department, Jack L. Bartlett of the Art Department, and John W. Fuquay of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science. The university's Instructional Improvement Committee sponsors convocation.

Grisham Fellow Award

(no longer awarded as of 2002)


Paul Grootkerk