Humanities practitioners put current issues and events into perspective by encouraging critical thinking and analysis, challenging beliefs and values, sparking creativity and encouraging global citizenship and immersing in history. In an effort to further a world that is healthier, hopeful…
Eleven Syracuse University faculty members to be recognized at April 6 Faculty Honors Reception
Eleven Syracuse University faculty members to be recognized at April 6 Faculty Honors ReceptionApril 06, 2009Jaime Winne Alvarez firstname.lastname@example.org
Four Syracuse University faculty members will be named this year’s Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Distinguished Fellow, University Scholar/Teacher of the Year and Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professors for Teaching Excellence at a Faculty Honors Reception this afternoon. Seven faculty members will also be recognized as 2009 recipients of Teaching Recognition Awards, sponsored by SU’s Meredith Professors. The reception begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center. Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor and Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina will recognize the award recipients.
The 2009 Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Distinguished Fellow is Kendall Phillips, professor of communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). The fellowship was endowed by Seinfeld ’56, an SU trustee and alumna of the School of Education, and is bestowed upon a faculty member who has shown a passion for excellence and exceptional creativity in any academic or artistic field or endeavor.
The 2009 University Scholar/Teacher of the Year is Barbara Kwasnik, professor in the School of Information Studies (iSchool). The Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by the Division of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.
The 2009 Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professors for Teaching Excellence are Donald Siegel, professor of earth sciences in The College of Arts and Sciences, and James T. Spencer, professor of chemistry in The College of Arts and Sciences. The Meredith Professorships, created in 1995 with a substantial bequest from the Meredith estate, seek to recognize and reward outstanding teaching, and foster research and dialogue on teaching excellence. Two Meredith Professors are named each year to engage in investigations of teaching and learning. They are enrolled for life in the Meredith Symposium as a sign of honor and to provide an ongoing forum for the discussion of teaching excellence. Each recipient of the honor is designated a Meredith Professor for a period of three years. For each of the three years, they are provided a supplementary salary award, a fund to support their research, and additional money to be used in developing their academic unit.
The 2008-09 Teaching Recognition Award recipients are Sharon Dotger, assistant professor of science education in the School of Education and The College of Arts and Sciences; Patrick Penfield, assistant professor of supply chain management in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management; Robin Riley, assistant professor of gender and women’s studies in The College of Arts and Sciences; Michael Schwartz, assistant professor of law in the College of Law; Melody Sweet, biology instructor in The College of Arts and Sciences; Junko Takeda, assistant professor of history in the Maxwell School and The College of Arts and Sciences; and Sung-Un Yang, assistant professor of public relations in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
The Teaching Recognition Awards program was established in 2001 through an expansion of the Meredith Professorship Program. The Meredith Professors themselves proposed that the Teaching Recognition Award program recognize excellence in teaching by non-tenured faculty and adjunct and part-time instructors. Recipients are selected for teaching innovation, effectiveness in communicating with students and the lasting value of courses. To be eligible, candidates must have completed two years of service to the University and not yet received tenure.
Kendall Phillips — Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Distinguished FellowPhillips joined VPA’s Department of Communications and Rhetorical Studies in 1999 and has since been recognized with awards that highlight the quality of his teaching. In 2008, he was awarded the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. He previously served as coordinator of the department’s graduate program and initiated a sustained effort to strengthen the master’s program through greater recruiting and curriculum development. Today, he serves as department chair, elected in 2007 to a three-year term. Since becoming chair, his passion for taking the department to ever increasing levels of excellence has only accelerated.
“Professor Phillips’ passion and creativity are apparent in every activity in which he engages, and the list of engagements is impressive,” says Arthur Jensen, senior associate dean of VPA, who nominated Phillips for the fellowship. “Since his arrival at the University, Kendall has been a transforming presence.”
Phillips is a leading scholar of the rhetoric of public memory, public discourse, popular culture and American film. He explores the concepts through rhetorical artifacts, including comic books, film, political speeches and scientific controversies, and through teaching such courses as “The Rhetoric of Film” and “The Rhetoric of Popular Culture.” His passion for film is not restricted to academic circles; he hosts “Classic Movie Night” every Saturday evening on local PBS affiliate WCNY-TV. The show features films from Hollywood’s long history and is accompanied by Phillips’ commentary.
Phillips is actively engaged in the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, which promotes collaborative scholarly exchange in the humanities among faculty and students from SU, Cornell University and the University of Rochester. He also helps students become active in the local community, most notably by leading SU students in a community-based public memory project with residents of the former 15th Ward in Syracuse. The project, begun in 2007, aims to engage students and the University in an effort to make more visible the history of the African American community prior to its segmentation and dispersion several decades ago.
Barbara Kwasnik — University Scholar/Teacher of the YearKwasnik, an expert in classification research, came to SU in 1987. She teaches in the areas of organization of information, theory of classification and information science. Her current research interests are in developing methodologies for studying information-related behavior and in the cognitive processes of browsing and the structure of classificatory systems, particularly the nature of unspecified term relationships. In addition to teaching, she has served as director of the iSchool’s Ph.D. program from 1994-98 and 1999-2001. She also has served as director of the master’s in library science (M.L.S.) program from 1990-93.
“Barbara’s teaching record is as positive as it could possibly be,” says iSchool Dean Elizabeth Liddy, who nominated Kwasnik for the award. “It does not matter whether the population consists of undergraduates, master’s students or doctoral students; it does not matter at all whether the class size is large or small; the student evaluation scores are in the very top tier, and the free-form comments are overwhelmingly grateful and enthusiastic.”
Kwasnik has served on numerous committees for both the iSchool and the University. Her professional memberships include the American Society for Information Science and Technology, the American Society of Indexers and the International Society for Knowledge Organization. Kwasnik’s honors and awards include being a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in 1996 at the Royal School of Librarianship in Copenhagen; being named Jeffrey Katzer Professor of the Year at the iSchool in 2000; and being named ASIST Outstanding Information Science Teacher of the Year in 2002.
Donald Siegel — Meredith ProfessorSiegel is one of the nation’s most well-known, respected and admired hydrologists, whose stature and accomplishments have been recognized with numerous national awards and honors. He is a remarkably creative teacher who has influenced a generation of young scientists-and non-scientists-as well as his contemporaries.
As a scientist, Siegel attacks some of the most timely and difficult problems in his discipline. His research focuses on the physical and chemical aspects of water resources close to home, in the western United States, and recently in China. He is a lifetime associate member of the National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences), a member of the National Research Council’s Water Science and Technology Board, a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA), author of more than 150 scientific articles, and editor or co-editor of some of the most respected journals in the field, and has served on numerous committees of the National Research Council.
As a teacher, he sees beyond the science to the legal, ethical and political issues surrounding the supply of fresh water on our planet and challenges his students to do likewise. Over the course of 26 years, Siegel has taught thousands of undergraduate students and mentored more than 50 graduate students. Nearly all of his graduate students work as hydrology professionals in Central New York, across the nation and internationally.
Siegel has created groundbreaking multidisciplinary courses at the interfaces of science, policy, law and the arts. His classes are marked by scientific rigor, pragmatism, accessibility and good humor. For him, a mark of success is student mastery of the “top ten” fundamental concepts he wants them to remember 10 years after taking the course.
“Many of the students I have taught will be the future movers and shakers of America: media moguls, lawyers, business people or just citizens having access to significant inheritance from their parents-my fellow baby boomers,” says Siegel. “Some will likely have more influence on how science proceeds in America than most professional scientists, including me. If I cannot get these students to understand the scientific enterprise, then I will have failed my job.”
To that end, Siegel challenges students in his introductory courses to create projects that relate earth science to their majors. His upper-level “Contaminant Hydrogeology” course includes a semester-long project that culminates in an all-day civil environmental trial at SU’s College of Law, presided over by a practicing judge and litigated by law students. The science students serve as the expert witnesses. This exercise involving law students and science students is the only one of its kind in the country.
Siegel has networked with faculty from across campus and at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) to create an outstanding, multidisciplinary program in water resources, and he helped develop a course on climate change in which undergraduate students work with law and graduate students to write climate change protocols and negotiate carbon emission standards.
For his Meredith Project, Siegel plans to develop and expand his new honors course called “World Water.” The course would explore water in all its forms and permutations of use on a global scale. Topics include the science of water-its origin, fundamental physics and chemistry, and its movement globally and locally in the hydrologic cycle; the use and availability of water by humans and ecosystems; and past, present and future water policy, ethics and disputes.
He also plans to explore coupling the course to a credit-bearing 10-day trip to China in which students would investigate water use in the Yangtze River system. The course would include a river trip to the Three Gorge Dam, a boat trip on the heavily contaminated Taihu Lake near Nanjing, and a tour of Shanghai’s waterfront and water supply system. The course would be a collaborative effort with Siegel’s colleagues at either Nanjing or Hohai universities.
“I often hear the term ‘teaching loads’ related to the number of courses professors have to teach-rather like a Sisyphusian task of rolling rocks up a hill,” Siegel says. “There is no ‘teaching load’ for me. Teaching remains as much of a joy (most of the time) as my research. Teaching, research and service are all equal parts of my academic three-legged stool, and I like it that way.”
James T. Spencer — Meredith ProfessorIf there were a modern manifestation of a Renaissance man on the SU campus, it would be personified by Spencer. In addition to his international reputation as a boron and materials chemist, Spencer has pursued an eclectic range of activities during his tenure in the sciences, arts and humanities, which have engaged the campus community as well as communities of scientists, artists, educators and students from Central New York and across the nation.
Spencer is founder and first director of The College of Arts and Sciences’ interdisciplinary Forensic Science Program; recent director of the Soling Program; founder and chair of the University’s MayFest Celebration (renamed this spring as SU Showcase); and a core faculty member in the Renee Crown University Honors Program. He was also founder and first director of SU’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in chemistry, funded by the National Science Foundation.
Spencer is co-founder and director of the SU Brass Ensemble, composed of SU and SUNY Upstate Medical University faculty, staff and students who are accomplished brass and percussion musicians, as well as musicians from the Central New York community. In addition, he coordinates student nominations for scholarships from the prestigious Goldwater Foundation and the Astronaut Foundation Scholarship Program.
As the primary faculty liaison for SU’s Project Advance (SUPA) chemistry and forensic science programs, Spencer organizes professional development seminars for participating high school teachers and directs the SUPA chemistry and forensic science summer workshops for teachers who are new to the program. Over the years, he has presented lectures on chemistry and forensic science to more than 10,000 SUPA high school students across the Northeast.
Spencer is deeply committed to science education at both the science major and non-scientists levels. He believes that: “We are all born natural scientists. Newborns learn about the world around them through an intuitive form of the scientific method: observe, seek patterns, experiment and observe again,” he says. “However, during the process of formal education, the excitement of discovery and the relevance of science can easily become lost and needs to be rekindled.”
Spencer’s goal as a teacher is to “help all learners understand scientific thinking and to appreciate, through the study of science, the mysteries of the world around them and the opportunities science provides.” He believes that “by framing questions properly with an eye to student interests, such as forensic science, we can channel those interests into unique opportunities to teach fundamental scientific principles.”
For his Meredith Project, Spencer plans to continue to use forensic science as a vehicle for enhancing overall science literacy at both the secondary school and college levels. He calls it “science by stealth.” “Forensic science is inherently a reverse-format learning experience,” he says. “A mystery needs to be solved, and solving that mystery leads directly to opportunities to apply scientific concepts, careful observation and critical thinking to arrive at a reasonable solution.”
Spencer plans to develop new classroom materials that will arm students with scientific concepts to guide them through the learning process; develop a new textbook, casebook, creative mock-trial crime scene modules and laboratory materials that emphasize important concepts and deductive learning experiences; and make the materials available to high school and middle school teachers and provide training opportunities for those who use them.
“The project will enhance instruction in our very large introductory science courses on campus by providing refocused materials, assessment tools and interactivity,” Spencer says. “It will also have an important impact beyond campus by providing sorely needed materials to colleagues at other universities and to secondary school teachers.”
Sharon Dotger — Teaching Recognition AwardDotger teaches “Elementary Science Methods and Curriculum,” “Methods of Teaching Science to Young Children,” “Quests and Questions in Physical Phenomena” and “First Year Forum.” Her areas of interest include the development of pre-service science teachers and the effective use of constructivist teaching strategies in science classrooms.
“Sharon has electrified the teaching of science to elementary education majors with her passion, enthusiasm and innovative pedagogical approach,” says John W. Tillotson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Science Teaching, who nominated Dotger for the award. Dotger is the recipient of additional honors, notably the Joan N. Burstyn Endowed Fund for Research in Education Award for Collaborative Research and SU’s Faculty Excellence Award in Graduate Education, both received in 2008. In addition to giving invited workshops and presentations, she serves on committees for the Association for Science Teacher Educators, the National Association of Research in Science Teaching and SU’s Task Force on Sustainability, among others.
Patrick Penfield — Teaching Recognition AwardPenfield’s passion for teaching is evidenced by the stellar evaluations he has received from the 1,400-plus students taught during his time at Whitman. He is consistently rated as one of the school’s top professors and was voted Faculty Member of the Year in 2007 by Beta Gamma Sigma. Penfield has developed new classes, including “Fundamentals of Sourcing” and “Project Management and the Green Supply Chain,” and has more than 15 years’ experience in supply chain management. He mentors students working off-campus and uses his industry experience and background to help identify job opportunities and internships for students and new graduates.
“We are very fortunate to have a person of Patrick’s character and demeanor working here at SU. He’s a great asset and has a tremendous influence on our students,” says Scott Webster, Steven Becker Professor of Supply Chain Management, who nominated him for the award. Penfield is currently helping to develop a new sustainable business curriculum with SUNY-ESF and working with students on a project to help the Baldwinsville School District reduce transportation costs.
Robin Riley — Teaching Recognition AwardRiley’s research on gender, militarism, and war and popular culture examines the ways gender, race, class and sexuality work to uphold the state and perpetuate oppressive and destructive processes, including militarism, war and imperialism. She is co-editor, with SU faculty members Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt, of “Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism” (Zed Press, 2008). Riley is currently working on a book project about how U.S. college students think and talk about the war in Iraq. At SU, she teaches a variety of courses in women’s and gender studies and in the LGBT Studies Program. Mohanty, who nominated Riley, describes her as an amazing teacher who “accepts students exactly how and where they are in their learning, and then proceeds skillfully to build a challenging intellectual curriculum that pushes them out of their comfort zones and into new exciting intellectual territory.”
Michael Schwartz — Teaching Recognition AwardIn addition to his faculty position in the College of Law, Schwartz directs the Disability Rights Clinic in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. Through the Disability Rights Clinic, he supervises students in disability litigation and teaches disability law. “Michael is an excellent lecturer and teacher,” says Steven Taylor, Centennial Professor of Disability Studies in the School of Education, who nominated Schwartz for the award. “He is charismatic without sacrificing substance for style.” Once an actor with the National Theater of the Deaf, Schwartz holds five degrees and has served as trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington and assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Department of Law. He is a member of the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut bar associations.
Melody Sweet — Teaching Recognition AwardSweet has been teaching at SU for 14 years, and her courses include “Anatomy and Physiology” for undergraduates, as well as a number of upper-level courses for biology majors, including “Cell Physiology” and an advanced laboratory course in physiology. She conducts laboratory exercises for SU’s Frontiers of Science summer program and judges student projects at the Greater Syracuse Scholastic Science Fair and the Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair. She also volunteers at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology Science Fair.
“Mel is a very integral part of our teaching enterprise,” says Larry L. Wolf, professor and associate chair of the Department of Biology, who nominated Sweet. “In spite of the demands she has for the students, her attention to [them] and her knowledge of the materials leads to terms in the written portion of her evaluations as ‘awesome’ and ‘great’ to describe her as a teacher. One student couldn’t resist saying that ‘Sweet is sweet.'”
Junko Takeda — Teaching Recognition AwardTakeda, who joined the SU community in 2006, specializes in early modern France; intellectual and political history; history of medicine; and race and gender in early modern Europe. She teaches a wide range of French history and thematic, interdisciplinary courses. “My goal as a teacher is to demonstrate to students that history is an ongoing dialogue,” Takeda says. “My students learn that they are making history in the present by dialoging with ideas from the past.” Takeda has served as director of the department’s Future Professoriate Program and has been a faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Theta, the undergraduate history honors society. “Until I met Takeda, I would have been very circumspect about suggesting that a faculty member would become an accomplished teacher worthy of the award in just three years,” says nominator John Scott Strickland, associate professor of history. “In nearly 30 years as a graduate student and professor, I have never known a more accomplished, more gifted, indeed a more brilliant teacher.”
Sung-Un Yang — Teaching Recognition AwardYang, who joined the SU community in 2005, is also a faculty member within the University’s Public Diplomacy dual master’s degree program within the Newhouse and Maxwell schools. A frequently published researcher, Yang teaches courses in public relations principles and concepts, public relations research, and public diplomacy and communications. Yang developed and teaches the gateway course for the Public Diplomacy program. “As I anticipated, Professor Yang created the best-received course in the curriculum,” says Dennis Kinsey, associate professor of public relations and director of the Public Diplomacy program. “Students love the course, work harder in it than any other, and use it to establish the foundation to enhance their public diplomacy education and get the most from the program.”