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February 20, 1997

Winners selected for new staff award; faculty teaching, research, public service awardees named

Winners of the 1997 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching, Research, Public Service Awards for faculty were announced last week, along with recipients of the new Chancellor's Award for Excellence for University of Pittsburgh Staff Employees.

Each faculty honoree receives a $2,000 cash prize and $3,000 to support his or her work. The staff excellence award carries with it a $2,500 cash prize.

Winners will be recognized at the honors convocation on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. in the Carnegie Music Hall.

Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Staff Employees Five staff members were chosen from among 88 nominees to receive the new awards, which honor staff who have demonstrated dedication to the University beyond the responsibilities of their jobs.

Winners included: Sandra L. Bishop, director of the engineering school's freshman program; Ronald G. Brown, director of Academic Support Services for Student Athletes; Glema C. Burke, assistant director for management and finance at the University Center for International Studies; Elaine Mormer, a speech and hearing specialist in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences' Department of Communication Science and Disorders; and John H. Potter, a University Book Center store specialist.

Bishop won praise for her work to increase freshman enrollment in the engineering school as well as volunteer activities with Family House, the Carnegie Science Fair and other community organizations.

Brown was honored for helping to increase retention rates for student athletes and for his community service work with local young people.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg praised Burke for advancing the University Center for International Studies' interdisciplinary mission throughout Pitt and for her volunteer work with the Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church, the Uptown Community Group and other organizations.

Mormer was cited for enhancing the clinical training program in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. "You also have distinguished yourself as a University ambassador through your efforts as the coordinator of the department's clinical field placement program," Nordenberg wrote to Mormer.

The chancellor praised Potter for assisting students and others in the Wilkinsburg community. "You also have distinguished yourself as a thoughtful and caring employee who contributes to the 'team effort' at The Book Center," Nordenberg wrote to Potter.

The Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Staff employees was developed last year through a committee made up of representatives from the Provost Advisory Council for Women's Concerns, Staff Association Council (SAC) and Equipoise.

"There were 88 nominees for the award," SAC President Brain Hart said. "Having looked at all of the dossiers for the nominees, I can only say that I am glad I didn't have to vote because picking the recipients was a pretty tough call. All of the nominees were simply outstanding." Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Awards Recipients are: Lillian L. Beeson, Greensburg campus humanities division – communication; Elisabeth T. Bell-Loncella, Johnstown campus natural sciences division – chemistry; Frank B. Colavita, psychology department, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); Harry M. Flechtner, School of Law; and Gregory J. Naus, pathology department, School of Medicine.

Chancellor Nordenberg (himself a past recipient of the teaching award) cited Beeson's "single-handed and tireless efforts in the development of the communications major at Greensburg" and her long-term commitment to teaching and supporting students in and outside of the classroom. Nordenberg quoted one of Beeson's colleagues, who referred to her as "one of these magicians, inspiring students with her passion, her energy, her creativity and her commitment." In his letter to Bell-Loncella, Nordenberg noted her innovative approaches to teaching large undergraduate courses in general chemistry as well as more advanced chemistry classes. "Your study of learning theory as well as your own observations have led you to an approach that is student-centered, actively engaging students in the learning process," the chancellor wrote to Bell-Loncella. "This is not easy to implement at any level, but especially difficult with freshmen taking a required course in the natural sciences. The collaborative learning experiences you have designed and your availability outside of the classroom through e-mail and the Internet illustrate both your commitment to teaching and to using the most modern techniques with your students. Students can see that you love the field of chemistry and teaching, and your enthusiasm is infectious." Nordenberg wrote to Colavita, a 30-year Pitt teaching veteran: "Your ability to hold the attention of large numbers of undergraduates in introductory as well as advanced classes is extraordinary. To spend the time necessary to lecture without the benefit of notes certainly illustrates the seriousness with which you have taken your teaching responsibilities. The mentoring of new faculty, the course you developed to assist graduate teaching fellows in your department and your service to the University on various committees related to teaching all have served to strengthen Pitt's teaching mission." Flechtner was praised for his dedication to teaching students to think in "the legal tradition" both in and outside of the classroom and for mentoring untenured faculty. "Your enthusiasm, ability to convey complex ideas, respect for students and availability have gained you the highest respect from both your students and colleagues," Nordenberg wrote to Flechtner. "Your counseling of individual students as well as your more formal advising of the Journal of Law and Commerce and moot court teams further illustrate your commitment to teaching in the best and broadest sense." The chancellor recognized Naus for his classroom teaching, mentoring of student research, teaching administration and research in the use of multimedia information systems in medical education. "Both your well-organized lectures and your clinical pathologic correlation sessions are highly praised by students and colleagues. More formally, both groups have honored you with awards for your exceptional teaching and your success in developing a teaching model that integrates basic science and clinical medicine in the new curriculum," Nordenberg wrote.

Chancellor's Distinguished Research Awards Awards are given in two categories: senior scholar awards, which honor faculty who have outstanding records of research and scholarly activity and are preeminent in their fields, and junior scholar awards, given to faculty who have shown great scholarly potential.

Senior scholar awardees are: Roger W. Hendrix, biological sciences department, and John H. Kagel, economics department, both FAS.

Junior scholar award winners are: Richard Carthew, biological sciences, FAS; Ian J. Reynolds, pharmacology department, School of Medicine; and Peter Wipf, chemistry department, FAS.

Hendrix won praise for his "skilled and creative use of bacterial viruses as model systems." Nordenberg wrote to him: "Your discovery of several basic molecular mechanisms as well as specific genes that control the assembly of macromolecular complexes, and your discoveries relevant to the mechanisms of protein processing and protein cross-linking that also have cellular counterparts amply show the wisdom and originality that you consistently have shown throughout your research career." Kagel was honored for contributing to "significant advances in game theory and in the study of auctions, a subject with important applications to public policy in the United States and other nations." Carthew earned his award for advancing knowledge in the area of signal transduction in development and for his most recent achievement in identifying the receptor protein for one set of signals, critical regulators of eye development in Drosophila.

The chancellor cited Reynolds for his research on excitatory amino acids. "The work that you and your research team accomplished in describing the novel observation that glutamate could trigger massive changes in intracellular free magnesium ions in neurons has opened an entire new area of research that could lead to a more complete understanding of neuronal injury," Nordenberg wrote.

Wipf was honored for developing an internationally recognized research program in synthetic organic chemistry, creating new protocols for preparation of heterocyclic compounds, and developing novel complete synthetic approaches for numerous complex molecular natural products.

Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Awards Winners include: Kenneth Batista, studio arts department, FAS; Henry B. Cohen, mathematics and statistics, FAS; Morton Coleman, School of Social Work; Nicholas J. Coles, English department, FAS; and Rose E. Constantino, School of Nursing.

Batista was honored for preserving and promoting American traditional music through his weekly public radio program, "An American Sampler." In his letter to Batista, Nordenberg wrote: "This program enriches the broader community and has enormous cultural value in bringing the heritage of American music to the lives of both adults and children in the tri-state area." The chancellor cited Cohen's "strong commitment to improving the mathematics performance of elementary school children and pre-college students through two innovative programs: College in High School Program and the Puzzle Play Program. The Puzzle Play Program — along with Professor Puzzle — teaches math and science to students, teachers and parents, and is an extraordinary example of combining professional expertise and community service." Coleman was honored for founding the Institute of Politics and for service as a board member or volunteer for a number of local non-profit organizations and government agencies. "As an educator, you have advanced the University's mission by bringing together University students and faculty through the Institute of Politics' internship program, which gives students a taste of political life through formal course work and practical experience in the offices of elected officials," Nordenberg wrote to Coleman.

The chancellor praised Coles for helping to improve literacy and writing skills of elementary school students and teachers. "As director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, you have been recognized at the national level," Nordenberg wrote. "The project's designation as an 'exemplary site' by the National Writing Project and its success and distinctiveness are a direct result of your diligence and commitment. Through this and other related service activities, you have translated your academic knowledge and expertise into practical help for other professionals and the greater community, as well as for those closer to home: the students in your own classroom." Constantino was honored for her work with victims of domestic violence. "Through diligent study and application, you have become a talented, creative and effective specialist-advocate for a very oppressed population," Nordenberg wrote to Con-stantino. "In your pro bono work, you have unselfishly volunteered your time and expertise as both a lawyer and a nurse, applying mental health nursing principles in the assessment of physical, psychological and spiritual needs of abused women and children who are seeking legal assistance to improve their situations."

— Bruce Steele and Mike Sajna

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