North Carolina Central University (NCCU) professors are known for providing top-notch instruction to ensure that students succeed in their chosen profession.
This year, extraordinary efforts by Department of Mass Communication Associate Professor Shauntae Brown White, Ph.D., earned special recognition from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
Brown White was selected to receive the prestigious University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is among 17 honorees from across the state to be chosen for the 2020 award, which recognizes outstanding faculty members within the University of North Carolina System.
“It is wonderful to be recognized when you have put in work to develop the craft of teaching,” said Brown White.
Innovative Techniques Lead to Student Success
She engages with students in a variety of ways, from well-planned discussions, to case- study analyses and hands-on assignments.
“Dr. Brown White is very encouraging; I specifically enjoyed the way she forces you to think,” said 2018 Department of Mass Communication graduate Terri King. “She is the type of professor that wants to know your thought process, and I appreciated that.”
Brown White says getting to know students personally helps her connect with them and develop relationships. She uses several class-building techniques throughout the semester to help students get to know each other and engage for collaborative learning.
“It’s important for students to learn how to work with others who have different learning, communication and management styles,” she adds.
With this technique, she is able to learn more about students, as well.
Before joining NCCU in 2007, she was an associate professor at Miami University. Brown White also previously served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati and held other roles at the University of Kansas.
Brown White’s teaching specialties and research interests include women’s and gender studies, communication studies, speech communication and media studies. In her courses, she strives to make subjects relevant to students and give them an enhanced learning experience.
“It is rewarding to see students make a connection on their own to a song, movie or television show they enjoy and watch for entertainment which could have messages that perpetuate problematic representations,” she adds.
Expanding the Impact
Most recently, Brown White has implemented the Layered Curriculum approach, which addresses various learning styles and encourages students to rely on their intellectual strengths and higher-level thinking skills as they work.
Going above and beyond requirements, Brown White provides multiple types of assignments for students to assure they are meeting the learning objectives of the course.
Brown White also has developed courses around her research. Decoding complex television shows such as HBO's “The Wire” and interpreting the works of writer and producer Tyler Perry are among essential elements of her courses. She also examines media images of African American women and African American women in film.
As an active member of the faculty, Brown White has served as a faculty marshal for university events and faculty advisor to the Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society. She has also worked on a number of university committees to boost the intellectual climate at NCCU.
Exploring Thought-Provoking Topics
In 2016, as the inaugural coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, she was instrumental in implementing course curriculum for the College of Arts and Sciences. Brown White’s innovative leadership made NCCU the first historically black college and university (HBCU) in the University of North Carolina system to offer a women's and gender studies minor subject area. The interdisciplinary program prepares students to think critically about structures of power, privilege and identity, while exploring intersections of gender, race, class, religion, sexuality and other aspects of social structures affecting women’s equality. It also explores global experiences of women, with an emphasis on women of the African diaspora.
“I love teaching media studies and women's and gender studies courses,” Brown White said. “The best part about teaching is when students have their own “ah-ha” moment and they become more critical consumers of the media.”
Brown White’s accomplishments include several literary works, book chapters and journal articles on the life experiences and media representations of black women. In 2019, she wrote “Representations of Black Womanhood: Being Mara Brock Akil” and “The First Lady: African American Pastors’ Wives in Their Own Words” in 2017.
She also has penned spiritual guides, including “Communication Matters: A Biblical Study to Speaking Life into Your Relationships” and “Communication Matters: 31-Days to Speaking Life into Your Relationships.”
Student Success is Paramount
Brown White was previously recognized with the Award for Teaching Excellence from NCCU in 2017 and the NCCU College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research Award in 2016 and 2019.
“My hope is to have encouraged the development of student skills that go along with higher education, including writing and speaking well, critical thinking, problem solving and working well with others,” Brown White said. “Most of all, I hope the experiences in my courses surpass the classroom to contribute to each student’s personal growth and development.”
Brown White holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University and a master’s degree in speech communication from the University of Alabama. She also earned a doctorate in communication studies from the University of Kansas.
She credits a stern professor at Howard University with igniting her passion to see students succeed.
“Dr. Paula Matabane had a standard; she also cared and believed in me,” the award-winning professor said. “I hope I demonstrate the same for my students.”
During her free time, Brown White volunteers with organizations including Dress for Success, Watts Chapel Baptist Church and local public schools.
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching was established to emphasize the importance of teaching and to identify, reward and support good teaching.