Seven in the Walker College honored for excellence with Sywassink Awards

Seven members of Appalachian State University’s faculty and staff have received Sywassink Awards for Excellence, recognizing their outstanding achievements and contributions within the Walker College of Business. 

Dr. Brandy Hadley received the award for teaching, Dr. David McEvoy was recognized for his research, and Dr. Tanga Mohr was honored for her service. Christy Cook received the Non-tenure Track Award, and Wendy Deng earned the Staff Excellence Award. The Spirit of Walker Awardees were Dr. Jeff Kaleta and Dr. Josh Silvey.

Teaching: Dr. Brandy Hadley

Dr. Brandy Hadley, an associate professor in the Department of Finance, Banking & Insurance, earned the Sywassink Award for Excellence in Teaching for her positive impact on students.

Hadley joined the faculty at App State in 2017 and has since demonstrated “exceptional dedication to her students and a passion for teaching,” according to her nominators.

Hadley has consistently received exceptional student evaluations in courses that vary by structure, content, and difficulty. Students have said she is “consistently available, prepared and continually advocating for their success.”

Hadley has made an impact on the college’s curriculum. In response to demand by industry professionals and employers, she recently developed a technology-based FinTech/InsureTech course for finance majors and a technology-based FinTech/InsureTech course for graduate students.

In addition to classroom instruction, Hadley has led study abroad programs and serves as a faculty advisor to the Women in Financial Services Initiative, the Bowden Investment Group, and the Broyhill Fellows, leading students competitions, facilitating relationships with mentors and employers, and eventually preparing students for rewarding careers in financial management.

Hadley is also an accomplished researcher, earning the Sywassink Award for Excellence in Research in 2020, two Dean's Club Research Prizes in 2020 and 2023, and two Chancellor’s Innovation Grants in 2019 and 2022.

Related: 5 faculty teams awarded 2022 Chancellor’s Innovation grants for projects at App State

Hadley is a two-time App State graduate, having earned a BSBA and an MBA from the Walker College and a PhD from the University of Tennessee.

Research: Dr. Dave McEvoy

Dr. David (Dave) McEvoy, a professor in the Department of Economics, earned the Sywassink Award for Excellence in Research for his significant contributions to the fields of environmental and experimental economics. 

McEvoy’s research is regularly published in prestigious journals, garners recognition from his peers, and helps App State’s Department of Economics rank among the top 100 departments in the U.S. for research productivity.

McEvoy is listed as a contributor on more than 50 entries in Google Scholar and has amassed more than 500 citations in the past five years. 

McEvoy’s recent work, funded in part by the Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation, focuses on important topics of global public policy and environmental issues.

A member of the Walker College’s Sustainability Steering Committee, McEvoy recently led App State through the process of becoming an official observing party at the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP). McEvoy led App State delegations to COP 26 in Scotland and Cop 27 in Egypt.

Related: App State students attend COP27, the 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference

McEvoy, who joined App State’s faculty in 2007, currently serves as chair in the Department of Economics and previously served as the college’s associate dean for undergraduate programs and administration and Appalachian’s Experimental Economics Laboratory director. McEvoy is a previous Sywassink Awardee for excellence in teaching and a past Dean’s Club professor. 

McEvoy received his M.S. from University College London and Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts, both in environmental economics.

Service: Tanga Mohr

Dr. Tanga Mohr, a professor in the Department of Economics, earned the Sywassink Award for Excellence in Service, for dedication and exceptional service to the department, college and university and for vitally important contributions to the efficient functioning of the university during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a faculty senator from 2016-2022, Mohr represented the business faculty, participating in the formation, implementation and review of university policy. She served on its Budget Committee, which maintains accountability and transparency between App State administrators and faculty, critically important during the pandemic.

Also during the pandemic, Mohr served as a member of the Undergraduate Academic Policies and Procedures (AP&P) Committee that oversees the curriculum and academic policies. There she was instrumental in guiding university leadership to begin, and later end, an enhanced pass-fail alternate grading system. Mohr has served on AP&P since 2016 and chaired the committee from 2019-2021. She simultaneously co-chaired the Joint Undergraduate and Graduate AP&P sub-Committee from 2019 - 2021. 

“The Chair of the AP&P Committee may be the most important service task that a faculty member can undertake,” said a nominator. “The Walker College has benefited from her careful work on AP&P and helping guide the process for curriculum changes.”

Additionally, Mohr has served steadily at the department and college levels, including on the Departmental Personnel and Post Tenure Review Committees and the college’s Assessment Committee. 

Mohr joined the faculty at App State in 2004. She holds a BS in mathematics and economics and a PhD in economics from the University of South Carolina.

Non-tenure Track: Ms. Christy Cook

Christy Cook, a senior lecturer in the Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management, received the Non-tenure Track Award for her contributions in the classroom, to the department, and in the field of digital marketing.

According to student evaluations, Cook is “very engaging and helpful”, “energetic, personable, and genuine”, and “truly cares for her students and student success.”

Cook’s teaching philosophy is to provide a challenging educational environment wherein students may grow confident and courageous, with opportunities to practice what they learn and share their ideas in a safe environment.

“She will help any student to the best of her abilities and gives great advice,” said one student. “I definitely see her as a mentor.”

Cook has been instrumental in the development of the digital marketing concentration, together with Dr. Lubna Nafees, who directs the program. Their efforts have resulted in a more than doubling of digital marketing students since the program’s inception in 2019.

Cook has also made an impact on the college outside of the classroom, serving as a thesis advisor for business students, assisting with the Honors College program and engaging in research on social media with her colleagues. 

Cook is a member of the Faculty Senate Women's Caucus and served as an App State Faculty Senator from 2019-2021. She previously served as a faculty advisor to App State’s chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon, a national, co-ed, professional fraternal organization in sales, marketing and management. Before joining the faculty in 2019, Cook served as executive assistant to the dean of the college, where she earned the Sywassink Award for Staff Excellence in 2016.

Cook holds an MA in Educational Media from App State and a graduate certificate in marketing from East Carolina University. She earned a NC Real Estate Broker license in 2007. 

Outstanding Staff: Ms. Wendy Deng

Wendy Deng, a program specialist in the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center, earned the Sywassink Award for Staff Excellence for her diligent work and consistent contributions to a positive work environment.

According to her nominators, Deng is “exceptionally hard working and focused on getting the job done promptly and correctly”, “diligent and accurate, completing work quickly and frequently offering assistance to others” and “is an advocate for students dedicated to improving their experience at App State.” 

“Her work ethic, tenacity and kindness have made an impact on me,” said one nominator. ““She has a deep understanding of university guidelines and has limitless patience helping her colleagues and students,” said another.

Deng joined the staff at App State in 2015, first serving as an advisor to graduate students and then administrative assistant for the Department of Finance, Banking & Insurance. Previously, Deng was a financial analyst at IBM.

Deng is an App State alumna, having earned a BSBA in accounting from the Walker College, as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in Shenyang, China.

Spirit of Walker Faculty: Dr. Jeff Kaleta

The Spirit of Walker Awards recognize one faculty member and one staff member who most exemplify Walker College core values and bring positive, significant recognition to the college and university. 

Dr. Jeff Kaleta, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Information Systems, earned the Spirit of Walker Award for Faculty, recognizing his cultivation of meaningful relationships with colleagues and students.

According to a nominator, Kaleta has a good rapport with his students and provides an interactive experience in the classroom, while setting high expectations for learning. “Students are required to think and participate. Mediocrity does not have a place in his classroom.”

One nominator said Kaleta supports his students in exceptional ways, sharing that he “opens up his home on holidays or when classes are out of session” and that “whether they need winter shoes or assistance with ‘VLookup,’ [Kaleta] will always make time to help.”

According to a nominator, Kaleta wants each student to experience success and encourages them to continue their education through software certifications or through the university’s MS in Applied Data Analytics program. 

A tech-savvy professor, Kaleta supplements classroom learning with a large library of self-produced video tutorials via his YouTube channel that assists his students on various topics including Microsoft software. Kaleta was also instrumental in developing CIS 1060, which helps hundreds of students each semester earn the Microsoft Excel Associates certification.

Kaleta joined the faculty at App State in 2019, having previously taught at Georgia Southern University. He holds a bachelor’s in engineering from the University of Maine and master’s and doctorate degrees in management information systems from Murray State University and the University of Memphis, respectively.

Spirit of Walker Staff: Dr. Josh Silvey

Dr. Josh Silvey, director of assessment and accreditation in the Walker College, earned the Spirit of Walker Award for Staff for his work guiding the faculty and staff through App State’s recent AACSB accreditation. 

Related: App State Walker College of Business renews international accreditation

Silvey “wrote the report upon which our reaccreditation is based,” said a nominator. “He worked closely with faculty, staff, and administrators in collecting the data required for the report and helped educate us through meetings, presentations and emails.”

Silvey’s commitment to quality and continuous improvement goes beyond his leadership in maintaining accreditation; his work is instrumental in ensuring the curriculum results in student learning. He was instrumental in designing a career development course that teaches students how to create professional materials that best represent their experience, skills, abilities, values and academic knowledge.

One nominator said Silvey “takes on new responsibilities with enthusiasm, completes tasks promptly, encourages others, creatively solves complex problems and goes above and beyond what is expected and maintains good natured optimism through it all.” Another nominator described teaching moments that are uplifting and filled with intention, saying “he has become my big brother of Walker, a true colleague with his team’s best interest at heart.”

Silvey previously served as associate director for the college’s business career services and as a technology support analyst for App State. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wyoming and an EdD from App State.

About the Sywassink Awards

The Sywassink Awards for Excellence are made possible through funding provided by Mr. G.A. Sywassink, Chairman of Standard Holding Corporation. Mr. Sywassink is a member emeritus and past chair of the Walker College’s Business Advisory Council, past chair of Appalachian's Board of Trustees and a past member of the UNC System Board of Governors.

The Sywassink Awards are presented annually during the annual Day of Excellence faculty and staff awards dinner, also funded by Mr. Sywassink. Winners receive a monetary prize and a bronze medallion of the university seal. 

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 approximately 3,600 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at

Seven members of Appalachian State University’s faculty and staff have received Sywassink Awards for Excellence, recognizing their outstanding achievements and contributions within the Walker College of Business.
Published: Jul 31, 2023 4:09pm