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October 20, 2010

Goergen Awards honor outstanding undergraduate teaching

The Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching recognizes the teaching accomplishments and skills of faculty in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. The award aims to acknowledge the full scope of work that contributes to excellence in undergraduate education.
University Trustee Robert Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, have sponsored the Goergen Awards since 1997.
This year’s recipients were honored at an awards luncheon on Oct. 15.

Carmala Garzione

Carmala Garzione

Associate professor of earth and environmental sciences

Kenneth Gross

Kenneth Gross

Professor of English

Renato Perucchio

Renato Perucchio

Professor of mechanical engineering and of biomedical engineering

Carmala Garzione inspires students by both challenging and supporting them. Her students and colleagues call her “a caring mentor” and an “insightful lecturer” who constantly tries to improve the course material and the way she presents it.

“She has made me a better student by actively challenging and mentoring me over the past year,” says Mary Dzaughis ’11. “Professor Garzione is one of the most dynamic, encouraging, and inspiring teachers I have ever met.”

Udo Fehn, a professor emeritus of earth and environmental sciences, praises Garzione’s workshop approach to the introductory geology course she began teaching in the fall of 2007. Garzione invites the best undergraduates from the previous year’s course to lead workshops with current students.

“The basic idea is that students learn better when, in addition to the traditional lecture approach, they directly interact with other students who have already taken the course in the year before,” Fehn says.

“Carmala is a very gifted teacher who combines the right amount of enthusiasm with the seriousness of an ambitious researcher in her field,” Fehn adds.

Garzione, a member of the faculty since 2000, also is lauded for her efforts to encourage learning opportunities outside the classroom, allowing many undergraduates to work or volunteer in her lab or to join her on fieldwork in South America and Asia. Students who work with Garzione get a broad look at the research process as a whole—from gathering data, to analysis and interpretation, to presenting and writing the results.

“Carmala’s passion for earth science is infectious, inspiring undergraduates to get involved in research,” says doctoral student John Bershaw.

Timothy Green ’03 recalls the small Literature of the Bible course he took with Kenneth Gross as an undergraduate. “We’d all sit around a conference table arguing passionately about these ancient stories,” Green says. “Professor Gross always encouraged dissent and, even more, creativity.”

Those are just two of the traits that students and colleagues say make Gross an effective and inspiring teacher.

Gross uses his own creativity—sometimes in the form of puppets and other props—to engage students in the course material.

“Professor Gross has found an astounding way to share his brilliance with students through methods that are fun and interactive,” says Samantha Miller ’11. “He is clever, quick on his feet, animated, and energetic.”

Gross, a member of the faculty since 1983, is director of undergraduate studies for the English department, a role in which he constantly works to ensure the improvement of the English programs.

James Longenbach, the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English, says he has seen the impact Gross has on students.
“Students walk away from his classes having seen not only the material at hand but having seen themselves; their confidence in their own intellectual capacities has been confirmed,” he says. “Within the classroom and without, he makes literature a living, breathing thing, and every undergraduate who has passed through Morey Hall has—whether they’ve taken a class from Ken or not—been invigorated by Ken’s intelligence and generosity.”

Renato Perucchio’s dedication to teaching engineering and his passion for history and archaeology led to the creation of an innovative program at the University. He is creator and director of the undergraduate program in archaeology, technology, and historical structures, a multidisciplinary and interdepartmental degree program introduced in fall 2008.

“Renato’s students are profoundly impressed with his pedagogy and clearly very inspired by his enthusiasm,” says Alfred Clark, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and mathematics. “He is the kind of teacher that makes students aware of what it means to be a mechanical engineer. He has high standards, but he is kind—there is encouragement and guidance but absolutely no intimidation in his teaching.”

David Simpson ’11, who is majoring in mechanical engineering and pursuing a minor in classics, can attest to Perucchio’s enthusiasm for research and for teaching. Simpson worked with Perucchio, who has been with the University since 1984, as a Xerox Undergraduate Research Fellow. The pair studied the structural mechanics of the Baths of Diocletian, a Roman bath complex.

“With certainty, I can say that Professor Perucchio is one of the most popular professors in the department and is well known throughout the University for his dynamic teaching style and love for all things engineering and classical,” Simpson says.

Emil Homerin, a professor of religion, says Perucchio’s abilities extend beyond the classroom. “He has helped many to be better teachers, students, and above all, thoughtful and articulate human beings.”


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