Skip Navigation

James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award

Established in 2004, this award is presented annually by the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees during the commencement ceremony to a member of the university community (student, alumnus, faculty, administrator, or partner in learning) in recognition of an innovative or creative contribution that has made a significant impact on their community, their industry, or the world around us.

James P. Etter, the first recipient and university founder, had the vision and determination to create the university system. His contribution has made, and continues to make, a difference in the lives of students, alumni, and faculty throughout the world.

The recipient of the James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award will be recognized for their contribution to the community as a:

  • Catalyst for organizational growth and development that benefits others
  • Creator/writer/designer of a paper or creative idea which has resulted in technology, learning, and development, innovation, entrepreneurship, etc.
  • Change agent for performance improvements and outcomes

Awardees will be selected on the basis of demonstrated innovation, effectiveness, positive change, personal commitment, entrepreneurship, and excellence.

Nominations may be made by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and those familiar with the nominee’s work.

  • The University Awards Committee reviews submissions
  • Top candidates are submitted to the Office of the President for final review and approval
  • There may be more than one award winner selected in a calendar year (based on the discretion of the review committee and the President’s final approval); however, if no qualified candidates are nominated, the award may not be given
  • Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
  • Award recipients receive a crystal trophy
  • Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award

James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award Recipient

James Barney

James is this year's recipient of the James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award.  After graduating from American Public University with a Master of Arts in Political Science in 2009, James began working at APUS as a part-time professor in Legal Studies in 2010.   In 2012, James became a full-time Associate Professor.  In 2016, he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, School of Global and Security Studies.  In 2019, he was awarded the Dr. Wallace E. Boston Leadership Award. James serves as a faculty advisor for the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and the school's Model United Nations Club. Additionally, James serves as the pre-law advisor at American Public University System.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, James attended Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. He graduated from New York Law School in 2004.  After law school, James spent more than a decade working for four federal judges as a law clerk in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  He is admitted to practice law in various jurisdictions and before several courts.  In addition to his J.D. and several Master of Arts degrees, James is working on completing his Ph.D. in History at The University of Memphis. 

James is a firm believer in online education's ability to transform the lives of students who may not otherwise be able to continue their studies.  Moreover, James believes that a collection of short in-person experiences, including student participation in mock-trial, Model United Nations, and debating competitions, can provide online students with rich educational experiences.  He is currently working on a project to launch an annual study-abroad trip to Europe.  

James currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama.  He is currently conducting research on the United States Supreme Court, actively writes blog articles, and is working on increasing the school's profile in academic circles by implementing his various ideas. He is an active traveler to Europe, New York, and Washington D.C. 

  • 2004: Mr. James P. Etter
  • 2005: BG Thomas L. Conant
  • 2006: Lt. Col. Laura M. Ryan
  • 2007: Mr. Steve Greer
  • 2008: Dr. Fred Stielow
  • 2009: Mr. Wayne Odachowski
  • 2010: Mr. Wesley Holmes
  • 2011: Dr. Larry Flegle
  • 2012: Mr. Daniel S. Hahn
  • 2013: Dr. Phil Ice
  • 2014: Dr. Suzanne Minarcine and Mr. Thomas Rasbach
  • 2015: Mr. Mark Bond
  • 2017: Ms. Chrystal Averette
  • 2019: Mr. Jason Bakas
  • 2020: Dr. Chandler Sekar

The submission deadline is now closed. Please stay tuned in Fall 2022 for additional information and contact the University Awards Committee if you have questions.