Two West Virginia University faculty members who embody WVU’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and service are the recipients of WVU’s 2017 Heebink Awards for Distinguished Service to the state of West Virginia.
Daniel McNeil is a Distinguished Eberly Family Professor of Public Service, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and a clinical professor of dental practice and rural health in the School of Dentistry. His service activities in West Virginia span multiple disciplines—and decades.
“The Heebink Awards recognize members of our campus community who have truly made service to the citizens of our state a priority in their professional and personal lives,” Provost Joyce McConnell said. “Both of this year’s recipients clearly live—and love—to serve, and they have positively impacted the lives of thousands of others through their work. We are very proud to honor them with the Heebink Awards.”
In all of his roles at WVU and throughout his career, McNeil, the recipient of the Heebink Award for Extended Service, has demonstrated a commitment to public health across the state. From numerous initiatives in the field of oral health to a statewide program promoting health in pregnant women and their children, his work focuses on groups who experience great health disparities, particularly underserved populations and those in rural areas
A state-licensed psychologist, McNeil blends his service activities with research and teaching, involving undergraduate, doctoral, and professional students in his Anxiety, Psychophysiology, and Pain Research Laboratory. He has also served as the faculty advisor to WVU’s chapter of Psi Chi, the international psychology student honor society, for more than 10 years and received the international Psi Chi Outstanding Advisor Award in 2015.
McNeil’s service extends beyond his professional role; he is the coordinator of WVU’s Merit Badge University, a cooperative effort with the Boy Scouts of America’s Mountaineer Area Council and the Girl Scouts that brings more than 300 middle and high school students to WVU for a day-long series of activities across the three Morgantown campuses.
Pressgrove, recipient of the Heebink Award for Beginning Service, has used a community-focused approach to create a network of partners across the state that has allowed her to secure funding for her students to conceptualize and execute more than a dozen service-learning and civic-engagement projects.
In her introductory and advanced courses in strategic communications, Pressgrove has guided students to the completion of public education campaigns, community branding projects and fundraising events. She has also leveraged student talent to develop marketing materials for nonprofit organizations in Monongalia and Preston counties.
In each of these endeavors, Pressgrove has worked to achieve both maximum results for the community partners and an optimal learning experience for the students, specifically about the importance of civic engagement.
Pressgrove also advises the award-winning WVU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, volunteers extensively for the United Way of Mon and Preston Counties and is a published researcher in the area of nonprofit public relations.
The Heebink Award for Extended Service, given annually, was established by David Heebink in 1982 in memory of his parents, Ethel and Gerry Heebink, two former employees (Department of English and Extension Services) of the university. The Heebink Award for Beginning Service, given biennially, was established in 1992. The awards are given to faculty or staff members who have “used the unique resources of the university” and their own professional expertise to provide an educational or public service activity to the citizens of the state.
Both McNeil and Pressgrove will receive honoraria in professional development support ($3000 for extended service and $2000 for beginning service) and be recognized by President Gordon Gee and Provost McConnell at the annual faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House later this month.