Five individuals receive Walker College of Business’s 2017 Sywassink Award for Excellence

Four Appalachian State University faculty members and one staff member in the Walker College of Business have received the college’s 2017 Sywassink Award for Excellence.

Dr. Ron Marden received the award for excellence in teaching; Dr. Carol Kline was honored for her research contributions; and the award for excellence in service was presented to Dr. Betty Coffey. Rachel Keller was honored as the outstanding non-tenure track faculty member and Haley Childers received the 2017 staff excellence award.

The awards are presented annually. Winners receive a monetary prize and a bronze medallion of the university seal. The awards are made possible by a contribution from G.A. Sywassink, Chairman of Standard Holding Company of Charlotte, and a former member of the college's Business Advisory Council, Appalachian’s Board of Trustees, and the UNC Board of Governors.

Ron Marden

Dr. Ronald E. Marden, a professor in the Department of Accounting, received the award for excellence in teaching.

Marden has taught the auditing review course in the Master of Science in Accountancy program for more than ten years, and, during that time, accounting students achieved a substantially higher pass rate on the audit portion of the CPA exam than the national average for first time passers.

According to a nominator, Marden’s students “love and appreciate him for his knowledge of his discipline, wonderful sense of humor and dedication to their success.”

“Dr. Marden has had a profound impact on Appalachian students as well as members of the faculty,” said another nominator. “He has excelled in all three areas of teaching, research, and service.”

Marden is a two-time previous recipient of the Sywassink Award for Excellence, having earned the award for research in 2000 and the award for service in 2007.

This year, Marden retired after 22 years of service to the Walker College of Business.

Marden received a master of accountancy from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. from the School of Accountancy at the University of South Florida.

Carol Kline

Dr. Carol Kline, a professor in the Department of Management, was honored for her research contributions.

Since joining Appalachian’s faculty in 2014, Kline has published 29 research papers in prominent journals, including the Journal of Travel Research, Annals of Tourism Research and Tourism Management.

Kline’s research interests focus broadly on tourism planning and development and tourism sustainability, they cover a range of topics such as foodie segmentation, craft beverages, agritourism, animal welfare in tourism, tourism entrepreneurship, niche tourism markets, and tourism impacts to communities. Additionally, she ispart of a network of researchers who focus on Race, Ethnicity & Social Equity in Tourism (RESET).

Prior to joining Appalachian’s faculty, Kline worked at East Carolina's Center for Sustainable Tourism and the Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies. She taught at North Carolina Central University's Hospitality & Tourism Administration program for two years, and worked with Cooperative Extension for ten years to provide outreach on tourism development issues to North Carolina’s rural communities.

Kline earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Wake Forest University, and both her master’s and PhD in parks, recreation and tourism management from North Carolina State University.

Betty Coffey

Dr. Betty S. Coffey, a professor in the Department of Management, was recognized for her sustained service contributions.

Having joined Appalachian’s faculty in 1992, Coffey has chaired the department’s promotion and tenure committee. She has served on Walker College’s strategic planning committee and Appalachian’s library services committee, among other service endeavors for the university, community, and profession.

Coffey is a faculty co-leader for the Holland Business Fellowship in Asia that emphasizes student collaborative research.

According to a nominator, Coffey offers “selfless” service to individuals, including going well “beyond what is expected in time and effort” in assisting students and supporting colleagues.

Coffey was a 2004 Fulbright U.S. Scholar in business administration to China and recipient of the 1999 Sywassink Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served as past chair of the department and is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.

She earned a bachelor’s from Berea College, MA from University of Alabama at Birmingham, MBA and MHA from Xavier University, and PhD in business administration with a concentration in strategic management from the University of Tennessee.

Rachel Keller

The recipient of the non-tenure track faculty award, Rachel Keller, is a lecturer in the Department of Accounting.

Keller, who joined the faculty at Appalachian in 2004, has taught principles of accounting, introduction to business, cost accounting and auditing. Her research interests include nonprofit organizations and recruitment and retention of students, and her work has appeared in Construction Accounting and Taxation and the Journal of Accounting Education.

Keller is active in service to the community as well as the college, where she serves on the undergraduate curriculum committee, the student recruiting committee, and the accounting principles content committee.

Keller previously served as a staff and senior accountant for Dixon-Hughes and is a certified public accountant.

Keller earned the non-tenure track award once before, in 2010, and was awarded the Student Government Association’s faculty appreciation award in 2007.

She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University and her master’s of science in accounting from Appalachian.

Haley Childers

Haley Childers received the outstanding staff award, which honors staff members who exhibit dedication in service, innovation and workplace morale to Appalachian and the community.

Childers is the communications director for the Walker College, where she provides oversight of event management, and creates and distributes communications that promote the work of the business school.

According to a nominator, “Much of the public face of the college presented so positively is due to Haley's influence. She tends to be a quiet influence behind the scenes shaping the culture of the college in a positive way.”

Prior to joining the staff at Appalachian in 2006, Childers served as communications specialist for the Center for Children's Healthcare Improvement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Childers earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

About the Walker College of Business

The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling nearly 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and approximately 175 graduate students, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Sywassink Award winners from the Walker College of Business are Haley Childers, left, Rachel Keller, Ron Marden, Carol Kline and Betty Coffey. (Photo by Sabrina Cheves)
Published: Aug 11, 2017 1:04pm