W. Russell Smith Award for Teaching Excellence
The W. Russell Smith Teaching Award honors a faculty member within the College of
Arts and Sciences for teaching excellence. All full-time faculty members with at least
four years of service in the College of Arts and Sciences are eligible. The award
is selected by vote of the graduating seniors and consists of a certificate and cash
The award is the College's highest honor for teaching excellence. The selection of
a recipient is based primarily on nominations by graduating seniors who are asked
to nominate up to three of their professors who have taught for at least three years
in the College. What adds to the prestige of this award is the number of faculty
members who are nominated by students.
The 2013 recipient of the award is Dr. Wesley James in the Department of Sociology.
Wesley James is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at The University
of Memphis. He received his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in 2009, and served
as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Science
Research Center at Mississippi State during the summers of 2009 and 2010.
Dr. James' primary research interests are medical sociology, demography, and rural
health. Currently, his research agenda investigates the relationship between social
integration and two behavioral outcomes, suicide and alcohol dependency. He also studies
macro-level disparities in cause-specific mortality in the United States using quantitative
and spatial statistical models.
His research has been published in American Journal of Public Health, International
Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Population Research and Policy
Review, Journal of Rural Health, Sociological Spectrum, and other sociology and public
health journals. Dr. James primarily teaches undergraduate and graduate sections of
Medical Sociology, Research Methods, and a special section of Introduction to Sociology