April 16, 2010
Colleges, medical school honor faculty members
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Nine faculty members from seven Southern Illinois University Carbondale colleges and the medical school have won recognition for superior teaching. They will be honored at the University’s “Excellence Through Commitment” awards dinner hosted by Chancellor Samuel Goldman April 20 at the Student Center. Each will receive a certificate from Goldman.
SIUC deans named Deborah A. Bruns (College of Education and Human Services), Suzanne M. Daughton (College of Liberal Arts), Gary L. Dunnington (School of Medicine), Douglas F. Fix and George D. Parker (both from the College of Science),Laura E. Hlavach (College of Mass Communication and Media Arts), Mark A. Peterson (College of Business), Charles M. Ruffner (College of Agricultural Sciences) and Tomasz Wiltowski (College of Engineering) as their top educators.
Here are brief profiles of the college honorees.
• Bruns, an associate professor of educational psychology and special education, joined the University in 2002 as an adjunct lecturer and has from the beginning received top marks from her students. They say she encourages them to think for themselves, that her criticism helps them better understand the material she teaches and that her interactive activities provide models for what they themselves can do in the classroom. They describe her as accessible, patient, supportive and knowledgeable.
Bruns’ colleagues praise her organization, enthusiasm and ability to engage students and say she has both the “skills and passion” for teaching.
Bruns is a two-degree graduate of New York University, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1989 and 1993 respectively. She completed her doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000.
• Daughton, an associate professor of speech communication with a cross-appointment in women’s studies, has taught a spectrum ranging from freshman to doctoral students in her 19 years with SIUC. She has developed new courses in communication, gender and sport, women’s movements and compassionate communication and, her students say, has had a lasting impact on them.
Daughton’s classes change the way they look at the world, help them grow personally and professionally, enrich their lives, give them confidence and impart skills they can use far beyond the classroom. The word “kindness” appears in many of their letters about this clearly beloved teacher.
Daughton earned her bachelor’s in 1985 from the State University of New York at Binghamton, then went on to the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in 1988 and 1991 respectively.
• Dunnington, J. Roland Folse professor and chair of surgery, joined the medical school in 1997. His students praise his teaching, both in and out of the operating room, and his educational reach extends beyond the University. He and a colleague developed a free, online surgery skills curriculum available to students throughout the world. He also is working with the American Board of Surgery to develop a rating system that can measure the skills of surgery residents; it will serve as the basis for the creation of a national exam.
Over the course of his career, Dunnington has received18 teaching awards; he has won 10 of these from his own department. He received his department’s professional award the last two years and was named a distinguished educator by the Association for Surgical Education in 1999.
Dunnington earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in 1976 and his medical degree from Indiana University’s School of Medicine in 1980.
• Fix, associate professor and chair of microbiology, specializes in medical microbiology, a subject required for undergraduate majors and popular with graduate and medical students. Because he can make complicated material comprehensible at a variety of learning levels, his teaching evaluations are always outstanding. He is particularly helpful with undergraduates wishing to get involved in research, taking on even some of the weaker students as partners. His students describe him as patient, dedicated and willing to give freely of both time and knowledge.
Fix developed a Web site on medical microbiology that receives several thousand hits daily from places all over the world, both assisting students on a global scale and bringing SIUC to international attention.
Fix came to SIUC in 1987. He is a two-degree graduate of Indiana University, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1978 and his doctorate in 1983.
• Hlavach, assistant professor of journalism, joined the University in 2004. Her background as a news reporter and practicing attorney help her make classes in media law and intellectual property understandable by a wide range of students. On a scale of 5, her students consistently rank her 4.5 and above. In addition to her classroom teaching, she has developed a Web-based course on media law.
Hlavach helped redesign the school’s basic reporting class, increasing the opportunity for teachers and students to interact. She also prepared an assessment test that helps identify students needing help in grammar and writing.
Hlavach earned her bachelor’s from Indiana University in 1979 and her law degree from the University of Texas School of Lawin 1985.
• Parker, associate professor of mathematics, has taught more than 30 courses during the course of his 37-year career at SIUC, including several that he developed. His student evaluations consistently rank among the highest in the department, regardless of the difficulty of the course. In recent years, he has concentrated on the advanced courses required of education majors planning to teach high school math, thus widening his educational impact.
Parker has published three textbooks, including one that has remained in print for more than 30 years and is used at top-flight universities including Princeton, Brown and UCLA. As director of the math computer lab, he oversees the operation of a facility vital to students in mathematics and statistics classes and to those doing thesis and dissertation research.
Parker earned his undergraduate degree in 1967 from Brown University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, San Diego in 1969 and 1971 respectively.
• Peterson, Gordon and Sharon Teel Professor of Finance, most often teaches introductory finance and investment courses, garnering above-average evaluations. His classes, though challenging, often fill to capacity, and his students praise his gift for getting complex subject matter across. He is popular outside the classroom as well, as students frequently seek him out with questions.
In addition to his classroom duties, Peterson -- formerly a financial economist with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission -- has advised the Saluki Student Investment Fund since its start in 2000. Students not only have gained valuable hands-on experience, but the fund generally outperforms its benchmarks.
A faculty member since 1997, Peterson earned bachelor’s and master’s electrical engineering degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987 and The Johns Hopkins University in 1990. He completed his doctoral degree in 1996 at The Pennsylvania State University.
• Ruffner, associate professor of forestry, developed a course to teach students the use of geographic information systems to design maps and another on forest disturbance ecology that blends theory with hands-on field experience. Both engage the students and are highly popular. He also teaches or co-teaches “summer camp” courses for undergraduates and has designed a study abroad course on the natural resources of Ireland and Scotland.
Ruffner created and supervises the Saluki “Fire Dawgs,” who learn the uses of fire as they restore forests on public land throughout the region. He also advises the Forestry Club and, as a former military man, serves as a liaison with returning veterans enrolled in the department.
Ruffner joined the faculty in 1999. He is a three-degree graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1995 and his doctorate in 1999.
• Wiltowski, a professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes, came to SIUC in 1992, generally teaching upper-level and graduate courses, several of which he developed himself. One of these, which focuses on alternative energy and fuel, brings his research into the classroom and prepares students for careers in an area critical to the country.
Wiltowski’s students say he tailors his teaching to their abilities, can explain difficult concepts with clarity and is responsive, encouraging and supportive. He has won several awards from his own department and in 2005 was named his college’s best teacher.
Wiltowski earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1972 and 1973 respectively at Cracow University of Technology in his native Poland and his doctorate from the Institute of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences.