Public-health educator receives 2012 Pleas Faculty Award
February 29, 2012 By MTSU News and Media Relations
Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis, professor of community and public health in MTSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance, is the recipient of the University’s 2012 John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award.
The award is presented each year to an MTSU faculty member who has contributed significantly to the teaching, research and service of African-Americans. The celebration of each honoree’s work is a regular part of the University’s observation of Black History Month.
Ellis was recognized during a special Feb. 28 ceremony at the MTSU Foundation House in Murfreesboro.
She and Pleas, a psychology professor emeritus at MTSU, joined the University faculty in 1985 as part of an effort to better diversify the faculty with nine new African-American professors. Ellis instigated the Pleas Award in 1997 to honor her fellow educator for his contributions to MTSU through teaching, mentoring, public service and obesity-treatment research.
“She exemplifies the professional educator at her best,” said Dr. Gloria Bonner of MTSU’s Office of Community Engagement and Support, a friend of Ellis’s as well as her former dean at the University.
“One of the things that impressed me most about Cheryl is her unquenchable search for knowledge,” added Pleas of his longtime colleague. “When I’m asked about professors at MTSU, I always hear [from former students] ‘She helped me a lot.’ She has a great deal of compassion for her students as well as her community.”
Pleas joked that his colleague “would have gotten this award sooner, but she always deferred to someone else. It was always, ‘Oh, I haven’t done enough. I need to do more. Give it to someone else.’ … Well, Cheryl, it’s your time.”
In addition to her extensive community health- and wellness-education efforts, including the popular National Youth Sports Program at MTSU, Ellis is a member of the honors and graduate faculty at MTSU. She is a native of Jackson, Miss., and a graduate of Jackson State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
As an advocate for community and public health, Ellis, a certified health-education specialist, has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and TV programs. In collaboration with Nashville’s Meharry Medical College and MTSU, she has presented and coordinated hundreds of health-education programs, including workshops, fairs and seminars, in nearly two dozen Tennessee counties.