Awards of Distinction Honor Outstanding Faculty
For their classroom creativity, masterful mentoring and innovative outreach, a few outstanding University of Arizona faculty members were honored Monday at the annual Awards of Distinction luncheon.
Five professors, nominated primarily by their peers, were recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to the University at large with the following awards, given annually by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the UA Foundation, the Graduate College and the Honors College.
Graduate and Professional Education Teaching and Mentoring Awards
Given by the Graduate College, the award recognizes teaching and mentoring excellence in graduate education and includes a check for $2,500, a medallion and a plaque. Winners' photographs are added to the Graduate College "Wall of Fame."
Diana Archangeli, a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Linguistics, is considered a leader in the field of linguistics. She studies the mental representation of the sound system of language and the physical properties of speech. She is one of the pioneers in the field for her use of ultrasound to measure tongue position in the speech of a variety of languages. She was commended for the way she rigorously supports her students, actively striving to meet the needs of every graduate student in the department. She has high expectations while striving to support students to achieve those expectations. She is always available for meetings where, all her nominating students agreed, she goes far beyond expectations in order to be of service to her students.
David Christenson, a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Classics, is said to be the mainstay of the UA's nationally renowned Master of Arts in classics program. His research focuses on ancient theater, late republican and Augustan literature, and the ancient novel. He made his mark on campus as director of the Basic Latin Program. Christenson is known for always making time for his students, even when he is on research leave or during winter break. Current and past students say he treats them as professionals and provides opportunities not only to excel in his classes but to engage in activities expected of professional scholars. One former student noted, "I am now a successful teacher of classics here in the state of Arizona, and Dr. Christenson was the person who had the greatest impact on my professional success."
The Margaret M. Briehl and Dennis T. Ray Five Star Faculty Award
Awarded by the UA Honors College, the award comes with $1,000 and is the only campuswide teaching honor given by UA students.
Alain-Philippe Durand, director of the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures, was inspired to become a professor after moving to the United States from France because he fell in love with the American college system. At the UA he has developed a minor in intercultural studies and tapped into students' interests by bringing hip-hop to campus through classes, an interdisciplinary symposium, and a new minor. Students see him as "open-minded and extraordinarily creative," with a teaching style that encourages students to develop their own critical thinking and creativity. He encourages them to pursue their interests and dreams and pushes students to excel and challenge themselves psychologically and academically. Mentoring students is his favorite part of being a professor.
Henry and Phyllis Koffler Prize
This award, which this year recognizes excellence in research, scholarship and creative activity, comes with $10,000, a medallion and a certificate. It rotates in other years to recognize teaching or public service and outreach.
Ida "Ki" Moore, a professor in the College of Nursing and director of the college's Biobehavioral Health Science Division, discovered unique harmful effects on brain cells and brain function as a result of central nervous system treatment and chemotherapy. She found that those who received whole-brain radiation before age 5 were the most vulnerable of cancer survivors for cognitive disruptions. Her findings ultimately led to the elimination of whole-brain radiation from leukemia treatment protocols. Having developed and tested one of the first interventions preventing cognitive and academic declines in children with leukemia, one of Moore's longstanding goals is to develop novel interventions to optimize cognitive and quality of life outcomes for children who are cancer survivors. She has implemented a project for math intervention for children with leukemia. Designs are under way for a computer-based virtual world to be used in homes and at pediatric cancer treatment centers.
UA Foundation Leicester and Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Award
This award recognizes excellence in the art of teaching at all levels, with emphasis on the undergraduate level. It includes $2,500 and the placement of a plaque in the Donna Swaim Honors Lounge in the Student Union Memorial Center.
Melissa Fitch, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, wants to help students understand and experience the ways that culture is a binding, social force. She was congratulated for championing initiatives that strengthened the curriculum in her department, expanded student enrollment, enhanced mentorship and bolstered study-abroad opportunities. She has involved students in salsa, Afro-Brazilian drumming and capoeira lessons; has taken them on tours to Tucson's Barrio Viejo; and attended theater productions focused on Latino experiences. One nominator wrote, "If any faculty member at the University of Arizona embodies through their pedagogical practices and research profile what it means to be a faculty member at a student-centered research university, it is Melissa Fitch."