Three MSU employees recognized by national professional and continuing education association

Contact: Karen Crow

Studio portrait of Athena Owen Nagel
Athena Owen Nagel (Photo by Russ Houston)
Studio portrait of Kiley Forsythe
Kiley Forsythe (Photo by Beth Wynn)
Studio portrait of Mark Jimerson
Mark Jimerson (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—One faculty member in Mississippi State’s Department of Geosciences and two employees in the Center for Distance Education are being honored by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

UPCEA is honoring Athena Owen Nagel with this year’s UPCEA South Region Professional, Continuing and Online Educator Award. This award is given to instructors who have distinguished scholarship and notable applied research through outstanding programs and teaching. An MSU faculty member for 11 years, Owen Nagel has taught courses such as geographic information systems and geology online for the length of her tenure. She is also a university recipient of the Center for Distance Education’s 2020 Online Teaching Award.

Kiley Forsythe is the recipient of the UPCEA South Region Emerging Professional, Continuing and Online Education Leader Award, recognizing her as a “rising star” who has made a significant impact on the quality of MSU online instruction. A university CDE instructional resource consultant since 2018, Forsythe assists faculty and instructors with online course development using best practices such as the Quality Matters (QM) Standards for Higher Education. She has worked tirelessly to support online instruction and provide trainings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Jimerson, CDE coordinator for MSU College of Business programs, is one of only 13 selected nationally to participate in the inaugural Bethaida “Bea” González Diversity in Leadership Scholars cohort. Representative and diverse leadership is a cornerstone of UPCEA’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence. The goal of the organization’s Diversity Scholars program is to equip diverse professionals at any stage of their career with the skills and knowledge needed to move into campus leadership positions in the field of professional, continuing, and online education, and in UPCEA.

“I am so proud of these three exceptional individuals for earning the regional and national recognition they deserve,” said Susan Seal, CDE executive director. “At Mississippi State, we see each day their commitment to excellence and passion for supporting our MSU Online students and faculty, and it’s gratifying to see others in the field recognizing and honoring that hard work as well.”

As South Region winners, Owen Nagel and Forsythe will both compete for upcoming national UPCEA recognition.

UPCEA is the leading organization for professional, continuing and online education. For more, visit

For more information about Mississippi State University’s online programs, visit

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