ATLANTA – Top educators from around the Sun Belt Conference, including Georgia State's Kris Varjas, were recognized today as the league announced its first-ever Faculty Member of the Year Awards.
Dr. Varjas is a Professor in School Psychology and Director of the Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate, and Classroom Management. She joined Georgia State in 2000 and is currently the Chair for the Georgia State University Senate Committee on Athletics. Her research efforts include school- and community-based projects investigating social-emotional learning, mental health, psychological well-being, bullying, cyberbullying, and school climate.
“Dr. Varjas was inspirational in my career path to teach our youth in today’s society,” said former GSU softball student-athlete and fall 2018 graduate Ivie Drake. “Barriers were eliminated with her support at Georgia State to allow me to complete the Early Childhood Education degree while representing our university as a collegiate softball student-athlete. I’m extremely appreciative of her support.”
Varjas has published articles investigating school climate, bullying prevention, and intervention and positive behavior supports in the Journal of School Violence, Journal of School Psychology, Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, Professional School Counseling, School Psychology Review and TEACHING Exceptional Children.
Dr. Varjas earned her Psy.D. in School Psychology from the University of Albany in 2003.
This award recognizes a faculty member from each Sun Belt institution who displays valuable classroom skills such as developing relationships, being a good communicator and showing a passion for teaching, engaging and inspiring students, while also separating themselves from their peers outside the classroom by regularly attending athletics events and displaying enthusiasm for the athletics department.
"These educators continue to go above and beyond to positively impact the lives of students and student-athletes at our Sun Belt universities. We are honored to recognize their dedication to student success on their respective campuses," said Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill.
The concept for the award originated at the Sun Belt’s 2018 Fall Meeting during a conversation between the Sun Belt Ambassadors, a collection of student-athletes from around the conference, and Faculty Athletic Representatives. It was then decided that each institution would submit an honoree to the conference office to recognize annually.
The Sun Belt Conference’s 12 honorees come from nearly 10,000 full-time faculty members. The combined enrollment across the conference is more than 160,000 students with student-athletes comprising more than 3,100.