8 UNC Hussman faculty and staff honored with annual school awards for excellence in teaching and service

The close of the spring 2024 semester brought with it the UNC Hussman tradition of honoring the outstanding contributions of faculty and staff with annual awards and cash prizes totaling nearly $20,000.

At the final schoolwide meeting of the 2023-24 academic year, the school recognized two staff members and six faculty members for excellence in teaching and service to students and to the school community.

This year’s faculty and staff award winners include:

Staff Excellence Award

Jay Eubank, Director of Career Services

Ann Schmitt, Graduate Program Coordinator


Val Lauder Award for Teaching

Angelia Herrin, Adjunct Instructor


Richard Cole Service Award

Scott Geier, Assistant Professor

Naz Knudsen, Assistant Professor

Suman Lee, Professor


David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award

Paul Cuadros, Associate Professor


Edward Vick Prize for Innovation in Teaching

Barbara Friedman, Associate Professor


“The UNC Hussman faculty and staff are highly respected across the Carolina campus, throughout the industries we serve and among our peers in media and journalism education,” said Raul Reis, dean of the school. “Our annual faculty and staff awards are an occasion for the school community to honor, celebrate and thank our own for their excellent work contributions over the past academic year.”

Director of Career Services Jay Eubank and Graduate Program Coordinator Ann Schmitt were each honored with a Staff Excellence Award recognizing teamwork, creativity, commitment, flexibility and a positive attitude.

Eubank, who has served as the school’s director of career services since 1996, supports undergraduate and graduate students on a range of career-related topics. He works closely with current students on identifying and landing internships and with graduating students on obtaining entry-level jobs. Before coming to Carolina, Eubank worked as a newspaper reporter from 1987-96 including a stint as the Raleigh correspondent for the Greensboro News & Record.

Nominations for Eubank focused on his long and dedicated service to student success in addition to his support and advocacy for his fellow staff members of the school and the University. He has established himself as an important and influential voice in the UNC Hussman community, and he has represented both faculty and staff on the University’s Employee Forum. “Jay has served our students with enthusiasm and care for more than a quarter-century, making a significant difference in the careers of many, many Tar Heels. He always prioritizes our students, their experience here and their futures after leaving,” a nominator wrote. “And rather than offering the same services and opportunities year in and year out, he has proven willing to innovate and collaborate to use the resources available to the greatest benefit to our students.”

Schmitt, who joined UNC Hussman’s Office of Graduate Studies as the graduate program coordinator in 2018, supports graduate students and staff with a wide range of needs while serving as a liaison between the programs and The Graduate School. Prior to coming to UNC, Schmitt worked for the Graduate College at Bowling Green State University.

Nominations for Ann pointed to the important role she plays for students, faculty and staff and how she creates a strong sense of community while managing complex processes and procedures that keep the graduate program running successfully. “What sets Ann apart isn’t just her willingness to help, but the way she does it. She treats every student with respect and kindness, making us feel valued and heard,” one nominator wrote. “Her support goes beyond academic advice; she’s been instrumental in fostering a sense of community among us students, making the daunting journey of graduate studies feel a little less lonely.”

Angelia Herrin was honored with the Val Lauder Award for Teaching that is given annually to recognize an excellent adjunct instructor in the school. The award is named for a trailblazing journalist and dedicated instructor who taught in the school for many years.

Herrin is a former reporter for the Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau and former Washington editor at USA Today. She also earned a Knight Fellowship in Journalism at Stanford University and served as editor of special projects and research at the Harvard Business Review prior to teaching at UNC Hussman.

Student nominations for Herrin consistently cited her passion for teaching and her commitment to supporting and mentoring individual students in personalized ways. They describe Herrin as an instructor with “electric energy,” “inspiring enthusiasm” and an “unmatched zest for teaching.” One student wrote, “Not only is she an excellent lecturer, but her appreciation for the craft of reporting and writing is absolutely infectious. Every edit she makes is clearly done with a great deal of care and intention. She highlights writers’ strengths and gives a push when needed. She asks all the right questions and always helps breathe new life into a story. It’s clear she’s invested her heart in a new generation of journalism.”

Professor Suman Lee and Assistant Professors Scott Geier and Naz Knudsen were each honored with Richard Cole Service Awards in recognition of their work to create a collaborative culture within the school. The award is named for Dean Emeritus Richard Cole who served as UNC Hussman dean from 1979-2005.

Lee, who joined the school in 2018, teaches and conducts research on international public relations, public diplomacy, public relations theory and international communication — in addition to leading the school’s Visiting International Scholars program. Before joining UNC, he served on the faculty of Iowa State University. Prior to academia, he worked as a public relations professional at Samsung in Seoul, Korea.

Colleagues nominating Lee for the award cited his role as a cultural bridge to many visiting scholars. Through personal outreach efforts — such as hosting scholars in his own home — Lee provides a warm welcome to the UNC Hussman community. Lee was also praised for his work at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to secure masks and hand sanitizer for Visiting International Scholars program students and alumni, helping with response efforts. More recently, he has served as the director of the school’s revamped strategic communications master’s program, leading meetings about the new curriculum and overseeing the review of a record number of applications. “Though much of his work is behind the scenes, Suman's service is substantial, necessary and bridge-building,” one nominator wrote. “It has enriched the Hussman community immeasurably.”

Geier’s areas of interest include front-end web development, data visualization, augmented reality, photogrammetry and generative art. He began teaching at UNC Hussman in 2017 as an adjunct instructor after a career as an investigative reporter and web developer for Smith & Carson Inc. He joined the full-time faculty in 2023 as an assistant professor.

Among the qualities cited in Geier’s nomination for the award include his collaboration with faculty across the school and the University, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing in the important area of AI education. Geier continually steps up to address the school's critical needs, offering to teach both undergraduate and graduate-level courses for which finding instructors can be difficult. As a nominator wrote, “His collaborative spirit and eagerness to help others exemplify true service.”

Knudsen is an educator, writer and filmmaker who uses nonfiction storytelling to make a difference. Through her teaching, she works to empower her students to do the same. Her professional experience is informed by years of hands-on work developing and executing ideas for documentaries, short films and corporate videos. Knudsen began teaching at UNC Hussman in 2019 as an adjunct instructor and was awarded the Lauder Award in 2022. She joined the full-time faculty in 2023 as an assistant professor.

Knudsen has actively participated and supported the UNC Hussman community since her arrival. In establishing a club for international students, she played a lead role in its inception, the creation of the club's vision, goals and mission statement and the creation of the committee's first advisory board. In addition, Knudsen serves on the ABIDE committee’s climate and culture subcommittee, the Dean's Cabinet and the Undergraduate Scholarship committee. She is a member of the Carter-Tinson Gallery selection committee and is responsible for naming its inaugural exhibit “Rising Voices.” She has been a judge for the Carolina Global Photography Competition and has been a guest speaker for the Global Education Teacher Leader Institute and at the North Carolina Scholastic Media Institute.


Dean Raul Reis and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Curriculum Julie Dixon-Green with Knudsen and Geier.


Associate Professor Paul Cuadros was recognized with the David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award, an award that he was previously honored with in 2020. The award is named for the legendary broadcast journalist who was inducted into the NC Media & Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989 and honors excellence in teaching and a commitment to helping students inside and outside the classroom.

Cuadros, who joined the school in 2007, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author who focuses his reporting on issues of race and poverty in America. He has served as the chair and executive director of the UNC Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a three-year mentoring and college preparatory program between UNC students and Latino high school students at six area high schools.

Nominations for Cuadros praised his unwavering commitment to the success of his students through a combination of high professional standards and personal grace. “He does an excellent job getting to know his students, putting people in touch with similar interests, sending out jobs or opportunities he thinks would be of interest to us, or just checking in with us about our personal lives,” wrote a student nominator. “He manages the best classroom balance I have been a part of by maintaining strict and professional expectations as well as fostering an understanding work community in the trials of college.”

Associate Professor Barbara Friedman was honored with the school’s Edward Vick Prize for Innovation in Teaching that recognizes creativity and innovation in teaching that meaningfully enhances student learning experiences. The award is named for Edward Vick, a 1966 graduate of the school who was an innovative advertising executive who was inducted into the NC Media & Journalism Hall of Fame in 1996.

Friedman, who joined the school in 2004, is a scholar and teacher whose work emphasizes constructions and contestations of gender, race and class in historical and contemporary mass media. Her research focuses on media and sexual violence. She was honored with the school’s David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award in 2014.

Friedman was nominated by several students who gained valuable new perspectives in her new “MEJO 142: Cultural Competency in Journalism and Strategic Communication” course. One praised Friedman’s approach to complex and sensitive social issues with “grace, responsibility and a commitment to equipping students with the knowledge to succeed as culturally aware media professionals.” Another pointed to how Friedman ensured that course materials were accessible and understandable by offering the content in a variety of formats including class discussions, lectures, textbook readings, video, guest speakers and collaborative activities. “She gave us skills vital to being strong, ethical journalists in the modern day,” a student wrote. “Still, more importantly, she gave us opportunities to use those skills so that culturally competent communication is a muscle we are more prepared to flex when the time comes."