2010 A&S Faculty Awards
Robert Urekew, Department of Philosophy
2010 Distinguished Teaching Award for Part-Time Teaching
Professor Urekew was appointed as a lecturer in Philosophy in 2000. For the past decade, he has taught courses on campus and on-line with consistently high teaching evaluations. He has also taught philosophy courses at our partner institution in Panama, the Quality Leadership University.
Professor Urekew regularly participates in faculty development workshops to enhance his courses and is always accommodating to department needs, according to department chair Robert Kimball.
A participant in the “Ideas to Action” Faculty Learning Community, Professor Urekew writes in his philosophy of teaching statement: “I encourage my students to develop an array of critical thinking skills required to evaluate the many claims that come their way. In critical thinking, they learn not to accept an argument solely because it agrees with their own opinions or because it is polished or rhetorically appealing. They especially learn not to accept an argument just because it is presented persuasively.”
Nominator Tamara Yohannes highlights his service on the Faculty Senate’s Part-time Faculty Committee. She writes: “His impressive diplomatic skills, organizational vision, sense of both the practical and the visionary have led to profound changes for part-time faculty at the university. Those same qualities blend to build his character as an outstanding teacher.”
A former student attributes his own success to Professor Urekew’s dynamic, challenging and motivational teaching style: “I truly feel that I learned and grew in Dr. Urekew’s classroom, and I retain the subject matter to this day. A teacher who can change the way a 40 year old college student views the world and education in general is deserving of this award.”
Gamini Sumanasekera, Department of Physics and Astronomy
2010 Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity Award in Basic and Applied Sciences
Since joining our faculty 2002, Professor Sumanasekera has distinguished himself as a researcher of the highest caliber. He has had more than 30 papers published in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in his field -- including 2 articles in the journal Science. As Physics professor David Brown states, “the number of publications is very good, but more important is the frequency with which his papers represent ‘firsts’ in his field.”
A colleague describes Professor Sumanasekera’s recent work published in Science: “It is magical what Gamini and his colleagues were able to achieve. We will hear about this discovery for a long time in the future.”
Professor Sumanasekera has also been very successful in acquiring extramural funding to support his research. Since coming to UofL, he has been P.I. or co-P.I. on ten federally funded grants totaling more than 10 million dollars. His allocation of funds from the grants has totaled over 3 million dollars, and his work has resulted in two patents and six patents-pending.
A colleague describes him as “one of the rare experimentalists who are capable of synthesizing novel materials, characterizing their properties, and eventually figuring out the way to incorporate them into real world applications.”
Michael Cunningham, Department of Communication
2010 Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity Award in Social Sciences
Professor Cunningham, who joined our faculty in 1986, has demonstrated an exceptional record of creative scientific productivity in the fields of social psychology and interpersonal communication. His research has examined determinants of prosocial dynamics such as helping and physical attractiveness and antisocial behaviors such as deception and theft. His research has also examined the microdynamics of social support, the sociobiology of facial appearance, and the psychosocial ramifications of human hand and facial tissue transplantation. Research to which he contributed on the dialectics of togetherness and apartness in families blossomed into the theory of social allergies that focuses on the impact of aversive communication behaviors in ongoing relationships. As one colleague noted, the scope of his research is staggering.
Professor Cunningham’s success in interdisciplinary collaboration is especially noteworthy, including research collaborations with colleagues in surgery, social work, and biology. He has been successful in securing extramural support for his research, including serving as co-principal investigator on a $660,000 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In addition to publication in top journals in his field, his research also has been reported in the New York Times, Washington Post and a range of other media outlets.
Several letters of support cited the stature of his national and international reputation and the importance of his work in shaping and redirecting the areas he studies. In the words of one of his colleagues, Professor Cunningham “is shaping the direction of his field in ways that few ever can.”
Lundeana Thomas, Department of Theatre Arts
2010 Distinguished Service Award for National and International Service
Dr. Thomas’s work with the African American Theatre Program is, as her nominator notes, “the heart and soul of her teaching, creative activity, and service – indeed, of her very identity.” The program has had a national reputation since its founding in 1993. Although the AATP had already begun its international service by sending students to South Africa, in recent years Dr. Thomas has extended the program’s reach to China. In 2007, she led a group of students to China where she directed three different productions by African American playwrights during the course of the trip.
Dr. Thomas is developing a lasting relationship with China. This fall she will teach a course focused on performance of a Chinese folk tale in three different Afro-centric styles. The course will culminate with a trip to China where UofL students will perform their versions of the folk tale, while students in the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts will perform the same folk tale in traditional Chinese style. Dr. Thomas will host Chinese performers in Louisville next spring, providing students with another opportunity to participate in the collaboration.
Theatre Arts department chair Russ Vandenbroucke notes that Dr. Thomas’ “ambitious plans for China coincide with the university’s efforts to expand international opportunities for our students.” Thanks to her ambition, hard work, and dedication, Dr. Thomas is helping to expand the national and international reach of the college and university.
David Brown, Department of Physics and Astronomy
2010 Distinguished Service Award for Service to the Profession
Since Professor Brown joined our faculty in 1996, his career has reflected exemplary service to his profession, to the Department and to the community. His nominator notes that his astute leadership and tireless efforts led to unprecedented departmental growth and development, including creation of the new bachelor’s degree program in Atmospheric Science and re-institution of the Ph.D. program in Physics. His long-standing efforts in community outreach have supported school-to-career programs and regional science fairs.
Professor Brown has contributed to professional organizations in a variety of roles. During his service as leader of the Graphics Group of BaBar at the national laboratory at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, he facilitated the management of over 45 software packages used by physicists from around the world. Through his efforts on behalf of the Contact Congress Initiative at the American Physical Society meetings, he has worked to educate congressmen on the importance of increasing funding for physical sciences in their respective states. Professor Brown also served on the local organizing committee of the Third International High Energy Physics Visualization and Data Analysis Workshop held at Stanford, California.
Professor Brown’s outstanding service to his department and its students was a consistent theme among the letters of support from his colleagues. In 2008, he created a local society for Women in Physics and Astronomy. He has served as Coordinator of the Department’s Physics Learning Center since its inception. He served as faculty advisor for the Society of Physics Students from 1997 to 2009 and, under his leadership, the Louisville Chapter was selected as the outstanding chapter for 12 consecutive years. In 2005, the National Society of Physics Students honored him with the Outstanding Advisor Award.
Thomas Byers, Department of English
2010 Distinguished Service Award for Service to the University
Since joining our faculty in 1980, Professor Byers has compiled an impressive record of service. In the past five years alone, he has served on nearly 30 committees. Numerous support letters underline not only the quantity but the breadth and quality of his service throughout the institution.
Professor Byers has served as moderator for the Kentucky Author Forum, and he is one of the major forces behind the College’s “Life of the Mind” Series and Phi Beta Kappa Speakers Series, which bring nationally renowned speakers to our campus and community. He has served on the UofL Athletic Association Board of Directors, the steering committee of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, and as chair of the Faculty Assembly since 2006.
As Director of the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, Professor Byers has a direct influence on the intellectual climate of campus. The Center’s Faculty Research Forum provides the only regular opportunity for faculty to present their research to an interdisciplinary campus audience. As one colleague noted, “the breadth of participation from throughout the university serves as a testament to Tom’s unique skill in bringing people together to share their research.” Under his direction, the Commonwealth Center has secured federal grants of over $1,000,000 to support the Summer Institutes on Contemporary American Literature. As one colleague noted, the 18 international visiting scholars who attend the Institute each year “leave the program transformed with the sense that the University of Louisville is indeed a world leader in innovative learning and teaching.”
These are but a few examples demonstrating Professor Byers’ career-long commitment to service. As his nominator stated, “After such a breathtaking list of achievements, one wonders if any sector of the University cannot have been impacted by Tom’s dynamic efforts in service.”
Dewey Clayton, Department of Political Science
2010 Faculty Diversity Champion Award
Upon joining the faculty in 1994, Professor Clayton filled a void in the political science curriculum by designing courses that explicitly focused on race and other facets of diversity. He has received multiple awards in recognition of his diversity-focused innovations in the classroom, including the President’s Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award and the highly competitive Kentuckiana Metroversity Award for Instructional Development.
Professor Clayton’s research has focused largely on African Americans and the politics of race in American society. As his nominator writes, “In his books and journal articles, Dr. Clayton has examined race from a variety of angles: congressional redistricting, legislative representation, group voting behavior, pedagogical diversity, and most recently the campaign and political life of Barack Obama.”
His record of service at the department, college, and university levels demonstrates his ongoing commitment to diversity. In 2001-02, he served as an Administrative Intern under my supervision when I served as Assoc. Dean for Retention and Diversity. He went on to serve as the college’s Coordinator of Diversity Programs from 2003-05. In these roles, he worked with department chairs to assess the progress of departments on their diversity and retention plans. In the larger university community, he has served in, organized, or presented at over 60 diversity workshops, scholarship committees, and recruitment events.
A recipient of numerous honors in the greater community, last year Professor Clayton was selected by the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission to receive the Eleanor Young Love Award in recognition of his work “to promote unity, understanding, and equal opportunity in the Metro area and eliminate bigotry, bias, and hatred.”
I’d like to close with a quote from Professor Clayton describing his commitment to these goals: “My parents instilled in me a commitment to social justice and diversity, and I have attempted to serve as a role model for students and teachers over the years. I think that diversity is to be celebrated and it is one of the strengths of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University, and this country.”
Gabriela Nuñez, Department of English
2010 Faculty Diversity Champion Award, Honorable Mention
Since joining the English faculty in 2008, Professor Nunez has demonstrated a commitment to diversifying the curriculum in the English Department, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. Her new courses focused on Latinos/Latinas include “Chicana Literature”, “Ethnicity in Detective Fiction” “Latina/Latino Popular Culture”, “Contemporary Latina/Latino Literature”, and “Borderland Cultures.”
Thanks to the unique course offerings that she brings, the Latin American and Latino Studies Program has added the U.S.-Latino component to its program and can now offer more courses to students towards the LALS certificate.
Professor Nunez promotes an inclusive campus community by “expanding the conversation about Latinos/Latinas beyond the classroom.” She brought filmmaker Alex Rivera to campus to discuss his films about Mexican immigration and labor in the U.S. She also played a vital role in programming related to the university’s recent Book-in-Common selection: Luis Alberto Urrea’s “Devil’s Highway.”
Her nominator writes that “when we hired Professor Nunez, I believed that the kind of diversity she would bring to our campus would have an important and broad impact.” She has exceeded those expectations in the relatively short time she has been here.
Susan Griffin, Department of English
2010 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Department Leadership
This award provides an opportunity for the College to publicly recognize a department chair who has demonstrated leadership and fostered an environment of achievement in their department. These are just a few comments about this year’s honoree, Professor Susan Griffin, who has served the past seven years as Chair of the English Department, among the largest and most diverse departments in the university.
During her tenure, English has secured a number of gifts and launched new programs and departmental initiatives. The number of these accomplishments during her tenure “speaks to one of Dr. Griffin’s great strengths – her ability to build on our department’s considerable areas of expertise and to add new ones.”
“The most important contribution to the development of a department is the hiring of new faculty. Susan Griffin devotes more time and attention to this undertaking than any of her predecessors. The importance she attaches to this undertaking is reflected in the remarkable success we have had in attracting bright young productive scholars and teachers. We are a far stronger department now than we were five years ago.”
“Susan Griffin’s leadership is built upon a foundation of consistent fairness and transparency.”
“Susan is one of the most fair and equitable persons I know. She has tremendous personal integrity and the wide support of our faculty”
“Dr. Griffin has done an exceptional job of leading the department, clearly articulating her vision for English and undertaking thoughtful, systematic and thoroughly professional strategies to pursue it.”
DEAN’S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DEPARTMENTAL ADVISING
- Department of Anthropology
- Department of Biology
- Department of Classical and Modern Languages
- Department of Fine Arts
- Department of Geography and Geosciences
- Division of Humanities
- Liberal Studies Program
- Department of Justice Administration
- Department of Pan-African Studies
- Department of Political Science
- Department of Sociology