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W&L’s Brindle and Pfaff Receive Harris Family Awards from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Ryan Brindle was presented the Rising Star Award and Dave Pfaff received the Excellence in Instructional Technology Award.

Ryan-Brindle-and-Dave-Pfaff-scaled-600x400 W&L's Brindle and Pfaff Receive Harris Family Awards from the Virginia Foundation for Independent CollegesDave Pfaff and Ryan Brindle

Washington and Lee University’s Ryan Brindle, assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral science, and Dave Pfaff, senior academic technologist and director of the IQ Center, were both honored with individual awards at the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ (VFIC) annual Fall Luncheon and Harris Family Awards Presentation in Richmond, Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Brindle was one of two faculty members honored with the 2023 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award, which recognizes non-tenured faculty members who have demonstrated great promise and possess no more than six full-time years teaching in higher education. And Pfaff was one of two individuals statewide to be presented the 2023 H. Hiter Harris III Excellence in Instructional Technology Award. This award is presented to individuals who have helped incorporate the use of technology in innovative ways in the undergraduate educational experience on their respective campuses.

Brindle was cited for his research that examines the impact of mental stress on health and disease. He also studies how stress impacts sleep and whether sleep can buffer the negative impact of stress and improve health.

“Winning the Rising Star Award was special but also humbling considering all the impactful teaching that occurs across the W&L campus and all of the VFIC member campuses,” said Brindle. “It was made extra special by being able to share the awards ceremony with Dave Pfaff and recognize all of the amazing work that goes on in the IQ Center at W&L.”

Pfaff was recognized for his dedication to facilitating innovative technology integration in academic settings and assisting faculty in enhancing their courses and research. He has presented widely at conferences related to technological innovation and interdisciplinary integration and has actively contributed to research projects spanning the sciences and humanities.

“Receiving this award is important to me because it validates the work I have invested in fostering innovative learning experiences,” said Pfaff. “This recognition also serves as a reminder of the responsibility I hold to continue pushing boundaries and advancing the use of technology in education. Moreover, the accompanying funding for research and professional development provides me with the means to further my work on a project mapping Renaissance Florence with Professor (George) Bent in art history. I am deeply honored and motivated by this award, which reinforces my commitment to shaping the future of education through technological innovation.”

VFIC member schools may nominate one faculty or staff member for each of the three different awards presented at the luncheon. Two awards were presented in each of the three categories. Audra L. Gollenberg of Shenandoah University and Morgan Wilson of Hollins University received the 2023 Libby and Hiter Harris Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards. Aslan Lotfi of the University of Richmond joined Pfaff as a recipient of the Rising Star Award, and Amanda Romjue of Emory & Henry College joined Pfaff as a recipient of the Excellence in Instructional Technology Award.

Brindle has been a member of the W&L faculty since 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and a doctorate from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). Pfaff earned a bachelor’s degree in digital media production from James Madison University and was named the inaugural manager of the IQ Center in 2013.

Established in 1952, the VFIC aims to advance the distinctive values and strengths of the 17 colleges across Virginia that make up its consortium. The Harris Family Awards recognize VFIC faculty members “whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences.” Recipients of each of these awards also receive a stipend to support their scholarly research and professional development activities.

Five W&L faculty and staff members have now received one of the Harris Awards since they were first established in 2008. In addition to this year’s honorees, Deborah A. Miranda, Thomas H. Broadus, Jr. Professor of English Emeritus, and Art Goldsmith, Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics, both received the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Miranda claimed the honor in 2021, and Goldsmith was recognized in 2008. Anthony Edwards, associate professor of Arabic, was presented the Rising Star Award in 2019.