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Eight SU faculty members to be honored April 13 for teaching excellence; Kutcher, Lane named Meredith Professors

April 12, 2011

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

Syracuse University has named Norman A. Kutcher, associate professor of history in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and The College of Arts and Sciences, and Sandra D. Lane, professor of public health and anthropology in the College of Human Ecology, as this year’s Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professors.

Kutcher and Lane will be recognized at an April 13 reception, along with the 2011 recipients of the Teaching Recognition Awards: Michael R. Ebner, Marcelle Haddix, Sinead Mac Namara, Georgette G. Nicolaides, Gina Pauline, James Haywood Rolling Jr. G’91 and Joyce A. Zadzilka G’96.

Additionally, Barbara Applebaum, associate professor of cultural foundations of education in SU’s School of Education, will receive the 2011 University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award.

The recognition reception will begin at 4 p.m. in the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center.

2011 Meredith Professors

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 an additional fund for professional development for each year of their appointment.

Norman A. Kutcher

kutcherAs a scholar and teacher of Chinese history, Kutcher is acutely aware of the important role he must play in educating his students about China’s past. Today, when the growing power of China is on many people’s minds, he seeks to provide solid context and appreciation for the complexity of what future international relations with China may hold.

“As someone who teaches introductory courses on Chinese history, I now feel a heavier responsibility than at any other time in my career,” says Kutcher. “Because I am a historian, I am acutely aware that those who prophesy a dangerous China or a peace-loving China take their very different readings of Chinese history as a guide. Undergraduates, too, look to the past to understand what our relationship with China will become. From the very beginning of my survey of pre-Modern Chinese history—which begins with the evolution of the ancient Shang capital—through the very last days of my Modern China survey—which ends with the post-Mao reforms—I hear students ask questions laced with their concerns about what the past can tell us about the future.”

Since his arrival at SU in the fall of 1991, Kutcher’s course evaluations have consistently ranked him at or near the top of the history department. He is recognized for being a deeply caring and engaged educator, with a humanistic approach to teaching. Kutcher is known for his ability to convey the lived human experience across hundreds of years and vast cultural differences to make Chinese history relevant and compelling.

“Norman understands what is important for students to know,” says Donald I. Siegel, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor. “He expects them to work hard, but emphasizes over and over the most salient parts of Chinese culture and which tipping points in Chinese history really count.”

“Instead of presenting students with a single narrative of events, I introduce them to the point of view of particular groups of Chinese individuals at particular moments in history,” says Kutcher. “And I try to make a convincing case for why those individuals made the choices they did. Once I have tried to explain history from the standpoint of one group’s attitudes at one moment, I shift position and show the viewpoint from another angle. In this way, I try to do justice to the complexity of the Chinese past.”

Kutcher’s Meredith project proposal is focused on the education of “heritage learners,” students who have some connection to a subject matter—in the case of his classes, China—through their families. Kutcher notes that these students bring a unique set of assets to their courses, but also present a different set of needs from non-heritage learners. His Meredith project will examine the experiences and needs of heritage learners from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible. Kutcher then plans to develop a set of resources that faculty and students can use in their heritage studies. As part of his project, he will disseminate both his findings and those resources to the SU community and beyond.

Sandra D. Lane

laneLane is professor of public health and anthropology, with particular interests in child and family health disparities due to discrimination based on gender, racial/ethnic identity, sexual orientation and other issues.

She is recognized as an extraordinary teacher and adviser who offers students challenging research and community engagement opportunities to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a real-world setting. Lane’s teaching of courses such as “Community Based Health Policy,” “Epidemiology” and “Public Health Ethics” gives students the chance to become involved in student-led, participatory, community-engaged research projects in public health practices and research methods, while also allowing them the opportunity to network with public health workers, physicians and community members. In addition to becoming immediately involved in local clinic and community events through their coursework, students also have presented their classroom research at international and local conferences and organizations.

“My teaching is grounded in problem-based and community-engaged methods, which I learned about early in my academic career when I visited the medical faculty at Gezira University in Sudan,” says Lane. “Gezira had been established as an entirely community-oriented, problem-based university. Each week the teaching addressed a “problem module” and all courses focused their hands-on laboratories on that week’s module.

“Since joining the Syracuse University College of Human Ecology in 2005, I have extended this community-based, problem-oriented approach to teaching undergraduate and graduate students in my public health courses. Each of my class sessions has core concepts that I want the students to understand,” says Lane.

For example, in one of Lane’s health policy courses, the students discussed the question of “what should policy-makers do when the values differ from the evidence?” The module took up two class sessions in which the students examined two issues in which the values and evidence diverged. The students were asked to engage in a large-group discussion, and Lane provided additional relevant resources, such as YouTube video clips of policy makers debating on talk shows or in Congress, as well as community activists, readings from the Congressional Budget Office or scientific articles, and news reports. The goal is to have the students review the epidemiological evidence of program effectiveness, such as clinical trial data, and then to consider the various opinions of the stakeholders. “I want the students to respect the health beliefs and values of diverse groups, while also realizing that even very strongly held opinions do not equal public health evidence,” says Lane.

“In her classroom teaching, Sandy strives to present the latest, most cutting-edge information to her class,” says Lutchmie Narine, chair and associate professor of the Department of Health and Wellness. “She not only engages the attention of students, but actively involves them in the search for relevant facts and knowledge. Her ultimate intent is to help her students see the ‘big picture’ of how the specific topic at hand fits into the whole enterprise of public health.”

Lane’s Meredith project proposal includes holding a set of workshops for SU faculty who want to learn more about her model of student-led, participatory, community-engaged scholarship in order to undertake such projects themselves. To complement the workshops, she will arrange community agency site visits, hands-on mentoring of interested faculty and a monthly lunch meeting where faculty can share their experiences in developing community-oriented projects.

Lane is also a research professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and has published among her works, “Why Are Our Babies Dying?: Pregnancy, Birth and Death in America” (Paradigm Publishing, 2008).

2011 Teaching Recognition Awards

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.

Michael R. Ebner

Ebner, assistant professor of history in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and The College of Arts and Sciences, is noted for being both an inspiring adviser and gifted lecturer.

Ebner has an easy style that works well in both large and small class settings. Lecturing clearly and eloquently, and without notes, he often incorporates stunning examples from music and art into his prepared presentations on such topics as Europe in the age of Hitler and Stalin, or modern Italy. His students recognize and appreciate his care in constructing his lectures and always refer to his lectures as the most valued part of the course. Responsible for teaching several large lecture courses (ranging from 70 to 220 students), Ebner works to create lectures that students will find gripping, original, thought provoking and entertaining.

But his focus on developing lectures does not minimize the importance of discussion, debate and student questions. To the contrary, the development of his lectures, selecting readings and mapping out the thematic framework of his courses enhances the engagement of students in the critical understanding of history, culture and society. With an enormous amount of reading required in many of his European history classes, students keep up with the challenge, participate in class and regularly meet with Ebner during office hours to talk about the ideas presented in class and in assigned readings.

Marcelle Haddix

Haddix, assistant professor of reading and language arts in the School of Education, is a critical English educator who focuses on how to best prepare all teachers for working in culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

She assumes enormous personal responsibility to educate undergraduate and graduate pre-service teachers to meet the literacy demands of an increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse K-12 student population.

Haddix teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy across the curriculum, adolescent literacy, writing and composition, children’s and adolescent literature, and secondary English teaching methods with a determined desire and resolve to educate students about the complex issues related to literacy, language and learning among today’s schoolchildren.

Beyond providing students with teaching strategies and methods, Haddix wants pre-service teachers to be prepared for the experience of shifting their thinking about teaching, and learning to critically interrogate their own social location and the ways in which they engage with the realities of teaching. One way that Haddix accomplishes this is by incorporating opportunities for community engagement that go beyond the classroom. She also teaches many of her courses in local school classrooms and libraries, with the belief that physically locating courses in schools creates an opportunity for her students to make real connections between the theories they learn about and discuss, to actual practice in classrooms with teachers and students.

Haddix’s students consistently recognize her passion and commitment to teaching for social justice and educational equity. She also founded and directs the “Writing Our Lives” project, a program geared toward supporting the writing practices of urban youth within and beyond school contexts. A highlight of this project is the annual Youth Writing Conference that brings together middle and high school students, teachers, university faculty and community members.

Sinead Mac Namara

Mac Namara, assistant professor of structural engineering in the School of Architecture, is recognized for accomplishing a feat that no one before her teaching the structures component of the architecture curriculum was able to do: melding two cultures of engineering and architecture to excite students in both fields with the potential of thinking about architecture through engineering, and engineering through architecture.

She has also engaged in groundbreaking research in this area, receiving with her colleague Clare Olsen a National Science Foundation grant in support of their experimental teaching with students of architecture and engineering.

Since she holds a joint appointment in architecture and the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, Mac Namara’s students and the University benefit from her energetic ‘bridging of the gap’ between these fields of study. She does this by allowing each field to influence the other. She actively engages the students in practical design and structural projects, which they must build with their own hands using simple materials in order to explore particular structural forces at play.

Having seen what the architecture students could do with a more intuitive entry point into their structural curriculum, Mac Namara continues to critically look at the engineering side of her teaching. She established the first engineering lecture series at SU, bringing exemplars in the profession to highlight creativity and innovation in contemporary engineering practice.

Noted as being an extremely talented teacher, she has also exceeded expectations in creating an interdisciplinary environment in which students learn to think creatively and to explore innovatively.

Georgette G. Nicolaides

Nicolaides is an assistant professor of statistical practice in the Whitman School of Management. With a heavy course load of large classes, she teaches students analytical tools and how to apply them in a business setting to make effective management decisions.

Statistics is not only heavily mathematical, but it is also more abstract than other business courses. In order to motivate undergraduate students to learn the subject, it takes a great deal of effort on the part of any instructor, and Nicolaides effectively teaches both required introductory courses—MAS 261 and MAS 362—and receives rave reviews from enthusiastic and engaged students. She sets high standards for her students–they must demonstrate that they have mastered each element before they may progress to the next level. Students are given multiple opportunities to learn and demonstrate what they learn through exams, which include carrying out computer data analyses, as well as through an applied project where students are required to conduct a thorough analysis of data relevant to a business problem.

She participates in teaching conferences and will co-present a poster on her research about how students reason about statistical tests at this May’s U.S. Conference on Teaching Statistics. She also attends teaching seminars at least once a month, including those specific to pedagogical research in statistics. She shares her teaching outside the walls of the University by contributing to the Significance blog. This professional development, in addition to a deep knowledge of her subject matter and accessibility to students, contributes to her recognition as a very committed and effective teacher.

Gina Pauline

Pauline, assistant professor of sport management, joined the College of Human Ecology faculty in August 2006. And in 2010, she was named College of Human Ecology Faculty Member of the Year.

As an instructor for principles of sport management and event management, among other sales-, marketing- and law-related sport management courses, she engages her students in the concept of Scholarship in Action by integrating real-world scenarios—interweaving sports, social justice and citizenship in both the classroom and public engagement. For the past two years, she has had her students volunteer with the NYS Special Olympics Winter Games, Mirabito Outdoor Hockey Classic and the annual SU Spring Football game, during which they organized a clinic for hundreds of area youth at the Carrier Dome. She involves her classes in a variety of community capacities, including working with the Harlem Globetrotters and Monster Jam to promote the greater Syracuse community.

Pauline incorporates a unique blend of enthusiasm and discipline into a comfortable learning environment that earns her students’ respect and trust, and also encourages them to be active participants in the learning process. By combining classroom lectures, real-world case studies in event planning, sponsorship and marketing, with experiential learning opportunities, Pauline earns high marks from her students, who consistently comment on the value of the challenging courses and the project management experiences they afford.

Pauline is also an advocate for supporting women pursuing careers in sport management, and has mentored several of her students to successful careers within the sport industry. She was also instrumental in establishing the first collegiate chapter of Women in Sport and Events at SU.

James Haywood Rolling Jr.

Rolling is dual associate professor of art education, and teaching and leadership, as well as head of the art education programs, based in both the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Education. In his earlier education, Rolling completed his M.F.A. in studio arts research at SU, while also a graduate fellow in the Department of African American Studies. As a researcher, he is devoted to telling the story of how we constitute, shape and reinterpret personal and collective identity.

While preparing teachers for K-12 New York State art teacher certification, Rolling is also actively instigating the re-conceptualization of the art education discipline as a natural nexus of interdisciplinary scholarship where visual art, design and several other arts-based and innovative practices intersect as an avenue of social responsibility. Rolling’s primary mission is that art education teachers be trained to do more than teach students to make beautiful objects and artifacts, or express themselves, or critique visible social structures. More than this, Rolling wants it to be said that SU art education graduates were trained to lead students as partners in the development of beautiful and needful objects and products, in expressing both themselves and their communities and contexts, and in critiquing contemporary visual culture while also envisioning the not-yet-visible at the cusp of creation.

Rolling’s published research either explores the arts-based research paradigm or comprises exercises in narrative inquiry, gravitating toward the intersection of certain discourses such as autoethnography, critical race theory and performance studies, which work from the margins of traditional qualitative research to reinterpret research conventions. He was recently an associate editor of the award-winning SAGE Encyclopedia of Identity. A member of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Rolling’s scholarly interests include: arts-based educational research, visual culture & identity politics, curriculum & pedagogy, social justice & community-engaged scholarship, and narrative inquiry in qualitative research.

Rolling is the author of the new book “Cinderella Story: A Scholarly Sketchbook About Race, Identity, Barack Obama, the Human Spirit, and Other Stuff That Matters” (AltaMira Press, 2010), is in contract to write an arts-based research primer, and is developing a book on the social origins of creativity. As a visual artist, Rolling specializes in mixed media explorations and portraiture and views studio arts practices as an essential form of social research.

Joyce A. Zadzilka G’96

Zadzilka, assistant professor of accounting practice, in 2010 was chosen by students as Undergraduate Professor of the Year at the Whitman School, an honor that recognizes her dedication to advancing knowledge in the field of accounting, while bringing relevant experience into the classroom.

Prior to joining the Whitman School in 2007, Zadzilka, a CPA, worked as an auditor for KPMG in Buffalo, N.Y., as a financial/operations analyst at Carrier Corp. as part of their Leadership Associate Program, and as a professor at Morrisville State College. At Whitman, she both teaches and serves as one of two advisers to more than 300 undergraduate accounting majors, as well as assists with the administration of the M.S. in accounting degree program.

With the elevated responsibility that she places on teaching, Zadzilka challenges her students and believes that she does not succeed unless they do. Through a rigorous course structure, she guides students through to mastery of accounting content, and outlines standards that she believes are no different from those that will be expected of them in their future jobs.

As a teacher of advanced financial accounting, managerial accounting and principles of fraud examination, Zadzilka develops unique team projects in each of her courses that allow the students to witness concepts in action. At the sophomore level, students build a manufacturing-based financial model for a selected product that ties together both financial and managerial accounting topics. At the senior level, students review a selected company’s footnote disclosures and related financial information to assess the riskiness of a company. At the graduate level, they design a fraud prevention plan for a sample business entity.

University Scholar/Teacher of the Year

Barbara Applebaum

Applebaum, associate professor of cultural foundations of education in SU’s School of Education, is recipient of this year’s United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award.

Applebaum is trained in philosophy of education and teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level students to not only understand this difficult coursework that involves ethical and diversity issues in education, but also works to insure an open dialogue for students to discuss and explore the sensitive topics that are part of this curriculum. By having her students read a broad range of texts and by teaching them the tools to analyze these materials through close reading and critical thinking, Applebaum is recognized for her ability to motivate students to develop their own opinions on these issues, and to encourage them to listen to others’ opinions as given from different social locations.

Since joining SU in 2002, Applebaum’s scholarly interests have focused on the point where ethics, education and commitments to diversity converge. To most effectively teach students on how to utilize these educational philosophies and theories in their future roles as educators, Applebaum develops innovative curricula for her classes, using films, television, advertising and other forms of popular culture to make real the material and allow students to develop its analysis in a contemporary setting.

“Teaching for me is an opportunity to inspire students to examine their assumptions about the social world they live in and to help them to be open to the possibility of different interpretations of social reality,” says Applebaum. “My objective is to provide students with a new lens through which to view their social world and to use this understanding to reflect upon their own teaching.”

“Barbara Applebaum not only makes time for students, welcomes them into her office and teaches classes that are stimulating, thought-provoking and significant in their lives, but she is also a great colleague to her fellow faculty, with whom she’s always ready to discuss pedagogical questions,” says School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen. “She has been asked to speak about her pedagogy in different pedagogical forums, like the Gateway teaching series, and she is very present in the life of her department, where she advises both undergraduate and graduate students and manages graduate admissions. She also chairs the School of Education’s Future Professoriate program.”

Applebaum also has a special interest in teachers’ self-reflections on their own teaching process and has written topical articles on building trust in the classroom, and what teacher authority can mean for a feminist pedagogue.

In 2006, Applebaum was honored with a Teaching Recognition Award, sponsored by SU’s Meredith Professors.

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