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New Meredith Professors to Be Named During Faculty Recognition Event
Seven nontenured faculty to be recognized for teaching excellence
On Monday, April 22, Associate Professor Barbara Fought of the Department of Broadcast and Digital Journalism Communications in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Professor John Western of the Department of Geography in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs will be named Meredith Professors at a 4 p.m. ceremony in the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center. Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina will preside at the event.
In addition, seven nontenured faculty members will be given Meredith Teaching Recognition Awards. They are Christine Ashby, Amanda Brown, David Dischiave, Jonathan Hanson, Gary LaPoint, Mathew Maye and Gretchen Purser. Karen E. Kirkhart will be named the 2013 United Methodist Scholar-Teacher of the Year, and Robert Wysocki will be named the 2013 Judith Seinfeld Distinguished Fellow.
Also, Meredith medallions will be presented to professors James Spencer and Donald Siegel, whose three-year terms as Meredith Professors are ending.
Awardees, their nominators, family members and friends are invited to the ceremony with a reception to follow.
A substantial bequest from the estate of L. Douglas Meredith, a 1926 graduate of The College of Arts and Sciences, allowed for the creation of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorships in 1995 to recognize and reward outstanding teaching at the University. The awards recognize and reward excellence in teaching, encourage faculty members to look upon the many dimensions of teaching as manifold opportunities for constant improvement, emphasize the great importance the University places upon teaching and improve the teaching and learning processes on campus. The Meredith Professors receive a supplementary salary award and additional funding for professional development for each year of their appointment.
Department chairs fight over Associate Professor Barbara Fought at scheduling time, says Dona Hayes, chair of Newhouse’s Department of Broadcast and Digital Journalism (BDJ), who nominated Fought for the Meredith Award. That’s because students flock to her courses as a result of her reputation for being compelling, up-to-date and organized, Hayes says, and they don’t even mind that she’s demanding. “They know she will deliver cardinal concepts blended with the most current information.”
This is reflected in Fought’s student evaluations. “You want to work hard for a professor when you know she is working hard for you,” says one. “Honestly one of the best professors I have ever had,” says another.
In addition to working hard at teaching, Fought has been either the creator or co-creator of two courses for BDJ, as well as creating a series of curricular sessions that have been adopted into five courses. The latter, “JTools,” is a series of learning modules that delivers the most current Internet tools for students to use in their reporting. Fought visits class sections to deliver her modules to students and teachers, who can then deliver the modules themselves.
This model is similar to what she hopes to do for her Meredith project. “Software designers and entrepreneurs are coming up with new tools regularly that can accompany news stories in text online—timelines, data visualizations, curations of social media and more … I have been keeping an Excel spreadsheet of new apps, programs and software over the past 18 months and it runs more than 50 items long,” Fought says.
For her Meredith project Fought plans to take time to evaluate these potential online storytelling tools and find new ones. She hopes to find out the possibilities of partnering with industry or entrepreneurs to test some of them. And she plans to help students develop more online skills by integrating these tools into classes in Newhouse’s journalism-related departments. As she did with JTools, she would develop modules that could be dropped into existing courses.
“In addition, I would also hope to find some of the tools that would be applicable outside of Newhouse and communications,” Fought says. “For example, perhaps learning to quickly make timelines with easy graphics could be an additional component for a history paper.”
“I teach out of self-indulgence,” says geography professor John Western. “I can get a rush from observing that these intelligent, hopeful-yet-uncertain, as yet not-too-striated-by-life young people are in fact responding to my messages. Let us be frank: teaching can give one a real buzz. I hurl my enthusiasm at them in the classroom. I hurl my humor at them in the classroom. By the end of the semester in my small discussion sections or seminars they are hurling enthusiasm and humor back … and at each other. I adore this. I’m amazed that you pay me for it.”
Students respond to Western’s love of teaching, says geography department Chair Tod Rutherford and Renée Crown University Honors Program Director Stephen Kuusisto, who nominated Western for the Meredith Award. “Students so value and admire his intellectual engagement, his commitment to the perspectives that inform his courses and scholarship, that they push themselves to their very best work,” the two say.
Indeed, his student evaluations reflect this enthusiasm: “The discussion was always really interesting, so it allowed everyone to fully understand the readings, even if we didn’t at first,” says one student. Another enthuses, “I think about what we talked about in my everyday life.”
Western teaches a variety of courses, mainly at the undergraduate level and in a number of departments. In addition to several geography courses, he teaches Maxwell 123, “Critical Issues for the United States,” and also teaches consistently in the Honors Program. He also taught at and directed SU’s Strasbourg Centre.
Western’s Meredith project is to create a three-credit course for SU Abroad in South Africa, where he lived from 1974-1976, and where he has made extended visits three times since then. The title is “Reconnoitering Contemporary Urban South Africa.”
“This project will not only be legible to Maxwell School students from many disciplines, but will be crafted and taught in such a way that any, say, engineering, biochemistry, textual studies or theater major would surely pick up on the immense themes—conquest, racism, economic exploitation and injustice, reconciliation, creation of post-colonial identities—which can be drawn from study of this amazing and troubled land,” Western says.
The Teaching Recognition Awards program was established in 2001 through an expansion of the Laura J. and L. Douglas 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. Each recipient is given $3,000 to further his or her professional development.
Assistant Professor, Teaching and Leadership, School of Education
Christine Ashby teaches a number of courses in inclusive education and disabilities. Her courses are notable for her philosophy of “differences are fine.” Her research agenda focuses on including students with more severe disabilities and challenging assumptions about their competence. Ashby is a musician and actor, and brings these skills to her teaching.
Ashby is director of the Institute on Communication and Inclusion. She has served on the Chancellor’s Task Force on Disability and has headed the School of Education’s Future Professoriate Program, and she has been involved in redesigning the school’s Inclusive Education program.
Assistant Professor, Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, College of Arts & Sciences
Amanda Brown has made it her mission to raise the quality of teaching on campus—not just her own, but teaching in general. Since her arrival in fall 2007, Brown has developed multiple programs to accomplish these goals: an LLL-specific Future Professoriate mentoring program, ongoing FPP workshops for all SU graduate students, a language teaching reading group and her newly created certificate of advanced studies in language teaching.
This last has been successful not only among trained language teaching specialists, but also among people with no language teacher training at all. The creation of the new CAS in Language Teaching: TESOL/TLOTE is one of Brown’s greatest successes. In only its second year, it attracted almost 70 applicants from around the world.
Associate Professor of Practice, School of Information Studies
As a professor of practice, David Dischiave’s focus is on professional practice, teaching and service, with the main emphasis on teaching. His professional area of expertise is information technology, specifically large-scale database technologies, the heart of what many people refer to now as “big data.”
Dischiave maintains high standards for achievement and integrity among his students. They routinely say that his courses are both the most difficult and the most rewarding ones they have taken during their college careers.
Dischiave has served the school in two leadership capacities: as director of the master’s of science program in information management, and more recently as director of the Global Enterprise Technology and systems and information science undergraduate majors.
Assistant Professor, Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Soon after he was hired Jon Hanson began teaching PSC 202, “Introduction to Political Analysis,” a required course for all political science undergraduates, and one that was beloved by neither students nor faculty. Hanson fundamentally restructured the course, and developed an open-ended survey instrument to solicit focused student feedback about the course. He has continuously refined the course in response to that feedback. As a result, student evaluations of the course have become increasingly favorable, and responses to the instructor are enthusiastic.
Hanson has also excelled in teaching graduate students, who successfully nominated him for the Graduate School’s Excellence in Graduate Education Award last year.
Clinical Professor of Supply Chain Management Practice, Marketing, Whitman School of Management
For 11 years, Gary LaPoint has been the faculty leader of the Franklin SCM Advisory Board and of the Franklin Student CSCMP Roundtable. He is also the director of SU Abroad’s Singapore Summer Internship Program, where he arranges summer internship experiences and conducts coursework and meaningful field trips for both SU Abroad students and for the LOGTECH M.S. in supply chain management students.
LaPoint has developed a unique course on Lean Six Sigma. After exposure to theory in the classroom, students apply their knowledge through community projects that have a positive impact on both students and organizations.
Assistant Professor, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
Mathew Maye teaches the inorganic chemistry course for seniors and first-year graduate students, in which a good percentage of the material is based on research conducted in his own laboratory, providing an immediate application of the material learned.
He has several times taught a graduate-level class in solid state chemistry in which he experimented with a combination of in-person and online lecture and a course website. Overall, the course was a huge success, and broke the ice for other faculty in the chemistry department to implement more innovative teaching methods. Maye hopes to move this class more online so that distance learners can take graduate chemistry courses online. This fall, he will integrate parts of this class into an interdisciplinary class that he will co-teach and combines students from chemistry, physics, chemical engineering and biomedical engineering.
Assistant Professor, Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Gretchen Purser teaches courses in social theory, urban poverty, criminal justice and research methods. One of the striking aspects of her record is the synergy she has achieved in melding her research and teaching the intelligence and commitment she brings to both.
Purser has a great desire to connect scholarly knowledge with real-world experience. To that end, she has developed out-of-classroom experiences to enhance students’ learning. To supplement classroom learning in the urban poverty course, for example, she has organized a bus tour into the city, which allows her students to meet with community leaders and activists, and to consider how the issues they have read about are playing out just a few blocks away.
2013 United Methodist Scholar Teacher
Karen E. Kirkhart, professor in the School of Social Work in the David E. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, has been named the 2013 United Methodist Scholar Teacher of the Year.
Kirkhart began as a lecturer in the School of Social Work in 1986. In that role, she was responsible for teaching SWK 770, “Clinical Practice Evaluation.” She quickly moved up to associate professor, a role she filled until 1998. As an associate professor, she taught M.S.W. courses in the research curriculum areas. She was tenured in 1990.
As a full professor since 1999, Kirkhart continues to teach courses in the research curriculum area. She also teaches courses in the Renée Crown Honors Program, the Program and Women and Gender Studies and the human behavior and social environment portion of the B.S.S.W. program.
“On the Syracuse University campus, Karen’s reputation is that of a caring and compassionate professor with high expectations for her students,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the Falk College. “Not only does she role model the highest personal and professional standards by example in her work inside and outside of the classroom, but she helps all students achieve their fullest potential by taking the time with them collectively and individually.”
Kirkhart is the author or co-author of numerous papers in academic journals. She has also been the presenter of many workshops and in-service training sessions. Since 2006, she has been invited to present with Rodney K. Hopson a workshop on “Strengthening Evaluation through Cultural Relevance and Cultural Competence” at the American Evaluation Association/Centers for Disease Control Summer Institute.
Her honors and awards include the Distinguished Faculty Award from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Syracuse University Chapter in 2009; the SU School of Social Work’s Teacher of the Year Award in 1996 and 1998; the Distinguished Service Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 18, Psychologists in Public Service, in 1988 and 1993; and the SU School of Social Work’s Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 1987 and 1988.
2013 Judith Seinfeld Distinguished Fellow
The Judith Seinfeld Distinguished Fellows’ Program recognizes passion for excellence, creativity, and originality in academic or artistic fields and seeks to encourage continued outstanding performance. The designation as the Judith Seinfeld Distinguished Fellow is not intended as a prize for past accomplishments so much as encouragement and stimulation for future contributions to society.
Assistant professor of sculpture in the College of Visual and Performing Arts Robert Wysocki, this year’s Seinfeld winner, first started creating lava flows at the Comstock Art Building in late 2009, in collaboration with Jeff Karson, Jessie Page Heroy Professor of Geology and chair of the geology department. When Wysocki first pitched the idea of creating lava flows, Karson envisioned what he might encounter in a research lab—a scientist melting bead-sized pieces of basalt—never imagining he’d see hundreds of pounds of lava come glugging out of a crucible after it had been heated to upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
At first, about 100 pounds of lava poured manually into a sand pit. It was pretty impressive then, but seems small compared to the 200-400 pounds of molten rock that are used to make geologically accurate lava flows a few meters long about once a month now.
The Comstock pours provide a treasure trove of information for Karson’s research group and have allowed him to conduct a series of experiments, studying the flow at different rates, temperatures and angles; observing its interaction with different surfaces, such as water and ice; and even examining the minute details of how bubbles form and grow as lava slides down a slope. A pour on an inclined ice surface, for instance, vaporized the ice. “The lava was basically on this cushion of air and just rocketed right off the slope,” he says. “There’s nobody else out there in the academic world melting and pouring lava, making lava flows at essentially a natural state.”
Numerous students from both the art and geology disciplines have been engaged in the project. At least 1,000 spectators have watched lava pour down the slope outside the ComArt facility. Vimeo has had more than 3 million downloads of video clips of the projects since fall 2012.
But these are only steps toward Wysocki’s vision of creating geologically accurate lava flows on the scale of acres, possibly in unexpected locations. To this end, he continues to develop new techniques and to design and build new furnaces. He is blurring the boundaries between science and art, to the benefit of both fields.