VCU will recognize distinguished faculty Wednesday at the 35th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation.

University will recognize distinguished faculty at annual convocation event

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Virginia Commonwealth University will recognize distinguished faculty at its 35th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation on Wednesday.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, will preside over the ceremony, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave. VCU will live stream the event online at

Awards will be presented to faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship. A glance at the honorees:

Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D.
Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D.

University Award of Excellence

Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., commonwealth professor, School of Engineering

Bandyopadhyay, named Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist in 2016 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, leads the Quantum Device Laboratory, which is renowned for its advances in optical, electronic and magnetic devices.

He has authored or co-authored hundreds of research publications that have promoted the understanding of spintronics, a field of electronics in which electron spin is manipulated. Bandyopadhyay also pioneered an offshoot of spintronics called straintronics, which has applications in extremely energy-efficient computing hardware. The breakthrough has led to National Science Foundation grants and two U.S. patents.

The University Award of Excellence recognizes a faculty member who has performed in a superior manner in teaching, scholarly activity and service. This award is one of the highest honors the university can bestow on one of its faculty.

Michael C. Neale, Ph.D.
Michael C. Neale, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scholarship Award

Michael C. Neale, Ph.D., professor, School of Medicine

Neale, a professor of psychiatry, human genetics and psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, has dedicated his research to making connections between how genetic, environmental and behavioral factors interact and contribute to illnesses such as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders.

He created an open-source computer program widely used by researchers in modeling data to determine whether genetic variants are linked to outcome variables. The program has helped eliminate barriers in building evidence and has been cited more than 3,000 times in scientific literature.

The Distinguished Scholarship Award recognizes an outstanding scholar who has demonstrated a pattern of productive scholarly activity, which has been recognized nationally or internationally, as appropriate. Traditional research, creative endeavors and other scholarly activity are included in this category. 

Marcus Messner, Ph.D.
Marcus Messner, Ph.D.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Marcus Messner, Ph.D., associate professor, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture

Messner teaches undergraduate digital journalism courses and graduate multimedia journalism courses in the College of Humanities and Sciences. From 2010–2016, he served as co-academic director of the Social Media Institute of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

He has secured more than $1 million in grant funding for various teaching and research projects. Messner was elected to the national teaching committee of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and previously served as head of its communication technology division.

The Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes an outstanding teacher. This may be evidenced by being an inspiration to students; by utilizing stimulating techniques, materials and methods designed to promote learning; by outstanding attention to the development of curriculum, learning materials and teaching strategies; by serving in a teaching capacity outside the classroom and university; or by any combination of the above.

Terry A. Dozier, Ed.D.
Terry A. Dozier, Ed.D.

Distinguished Service Award

Therese A. Dozier, Ed.D., associate professor, School of Education

Dozier serves as director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at the School of Education. She chairs the Metropolitan Educational Training Alliance, a partnership between VCU and Richmond-area school districts to improve student learning through teacher preparation, effectiveness and retention.

Dozier also directs the Richmond Teacher Residency Program, a federally funded effort to design and implement a school-based teacher preparation program for Richmond’s most challenged schools.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member who has performed superior service to the university, the profession and/or the wider community. This may be evidenced by activities that extend beyond normal expectations, unique contributions, or longstanding leadership and impact on the university and beyond.

Pramit A. Nadpara, Ph.D.
Pramit A. Nadpara, Ph.D.

Outstanding Early Career Faculty Award

Pramit A. Nadpara, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Pharmacy

Nadpara teaches several Pharm.D. and graduate courses in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science. His work focuses on improving treatment-related health outcomes in patients with chronic diseases while also identifying and eliminating inequalities in health care.

His research interests include reporting health service use patterns and conducting health outcomes assessment studies with an emphasis on oncology. Nadpara also serves on the Faculty Senate and participates on the School of Pharmacy curriculum committee.

The Outstanding Early Career Faculty Award recognizes a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member (rank of associate professor and lower) who has been in rank at the university or at another institution for a total of five years or less, and has achieved superior accomplishment consistent with the Quest for Distinction and in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship, and service.

Harinder S. Dhindsa, M.D.
Harinder S. Dhindsa, M.D.

Outstanding Term Faculty Award

Harinder S. Dhindsa, M.D., associate professor and chief of emergency medicine, School of Medicine

Dhindsa is medical director for the university’s critical care transport team and leads emergency department clinical operations.

He developed curriculum for the School of Medicine’s multidisciplinary team to ensure patients being transported to VCU receive best-quality care. He also created and oversees the LifeEvac critical care transport program, which provides lifesaving critical care air and ground transportation. Dhindsa has identified efficiencies that have led to shorter wait times and improved quality of patient care. 

The Outstanding Term Faculty Award recognizes a part-time, full-time, collateral or adjunct faculty member (rank of instructor and above) who has at least three consecutive years of employment at the university, and has achieved superior accomplishment consistent with the Quest for Distinction and in the areas of teaching and service.