2011 Faculty Awardees

The Italia-Eire Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award
Francis Spano, Professor, Department of Chemistry

Spano, who came to Temple in 1990, was named Honors College Teacher of the Year in 2008 for his general chemistry course. His research interests include optical excitations in conjugated oligomer and polymer aggregates and films and molecular orientation and quantum state control. He also serves as faculty advisor for Temple’s American Chemical Society undergraduate student chapter.

“Professor Spano embodies the traits that characterize the CST teaching award, impeccable knowledge of science, a style that fully captures and engages student attention and a gentle but firm hand guiding the student in the learning effort. He is effective, popular and scholarly.”

The Steven Petchon Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award
Rolf Lakaemper, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Lakaemper joined Temple University in 2003. His main research areas are robot navigation, computer vision, image and video databases, and computer graphics. He has worked closely with master and Ph.D. students, served on dissertation committees and conducted more than 40 independent studies with undergraduate and graduate students, many resulting in award-winning projects.

“His lectures were always exceptionally well prepared and presented, with much opportunity for class participation and feedback. It was clear that he was deeply concerned with his students’ abilities to learn the material. More importantly, in watching him interact with students outside of class, in his lab and elsewhere, it was obvious from the beginning that he loves working with students, and that they in turn have great admiration for, and appreciation of his methods.”

The William Caldwell Memorial Distinguished Mentoring Award
Evelyn Vleck, Assistant Professor (Teaching/Instructional), Department of Biology

Vleck, who re-joined Temple University in 2003, coordinates all labs for the Human Biology course for non-majors. In 2009, she became departmental advisor for undergraduate biology majors. She also co-developed the GenEd course “DNA: Friend or Foe?” that launched in 2009.

“Evelyn clearly treats each and every student with respect and takes their concerns seriously. She also takes her role as advisor seriously, which means that if she has to deny a student what s/he is seeking…, she does… but always nicely and compassionately. Evelyn works with each student to find some sort of solution, but she works within the stated, allowable parameters so that everything is fair.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Rose McGinnis, Director, Student Professional Development & Undergraduate Research Program (URP)

McGinnis joined Temple University in 2004. She facilitates students obtaining internships and full-time employment; fosters relationships with science and technology industries; and manages the college’s URP program. She also teaches courses on system design, database structure and other topics in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences.

“Rose has looked over my résumé countless times, given priceless insight to the professional world, and I have shared what I’ve learned from her to other members of the student body. She is always available, always willing to help find students careers or research opportunities, and always ready to give you an honest assessment about what to
expect after college. She is kind, loyal, and most importantly, dedicated to the students who need her professional expertise.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Marilena Downing, Instructor, Department of Mathematics

Downing, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Temple, began teaching at the university in 2001. She earned the TA Graduate Teaching Award in 2005. She designed the practice tests and tutorials for the math placement test, developed a more demanding Math 1021 course and coordinates record keeping of the College Algebra through Calculus III sequence of courses.

“Downing is extremely dedicated to her subject and to her students. She is one of the best professors I have ever had. Downing has the skills to explain calculus in a simple and effective manner. She is able to break down complicated concepts in a way that everyone in the class can understand. She is very sensitive to the needs of her students. I never
met another professor that was as committed as Downing is to her students excelling.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Steven Fleming, Professor (Teaching/Instructional), Department of Chemistry

Fleming came to Temple University in 2008. He has set a high standard in the lecture component for the undergraduate organic chemistry program and has been instrumental in refining the laboratory component as well. He serves as the science liaison for the General Education committee and teaches a course in collaboration with the Teaching & Learning Center to prepare graduate students for teaching in science.

“Dr. Fleming spends his time creating learning supplements to help students understand organic chemistry. His class was about more than just exams and a final grade. It was about the determination and selfconfidence we needed to discover in order to continue to learn. He taught his students how to learn, study, and examine their own work.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Jonathan Nyquist, Chair and Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Nyquist joined Temple University in 1997 and became chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Science in 2011. He earned Temple’s Provost Award for Innovative Teaching in General Education in 2009. His recent research emphasizes electrical methods for monitoring groundwater-surface water exchange in lakes and in the hyporheic zone beneath streams.

“Jon is already an excellent teacher, and he is invested in becoming an even better one. He is constantly reflecting on his own practice: puzzling about why specific practices work with some students and not others, thinking about how to communicate effectively with students, thinking about how to re-jigger assignments to challenge talented students, and so forth. It is very inspiring work, and I have learned a lot from talking with him.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
John Schiller, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics

Schiller began teaching at Temple University in 1959 and joined the math department fulltime in 1966. He served as chair of the Department of Mathematics from 1998 to 2004 and is currently associate chair. His teaching goals are to “bring excitement for mathematics to the classroom, be passionate about the subject, and let students see your love of mathematics.”

“Dr. Schiller’s teaching methods were extremely effective. He thoroughly explained topics, did several detailed examples and constantly asked for feedback from the class. Although he covered a great deal of material in his courses, he did so in a timely and efficient manner. His classes were structured and organized ‘to a T.’ Dr. Schiller established a perfect environment in the classroom, an experience that was challenging yet comfortable.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research
Daniel Szyld, Professor, Department of Mathematics

Szyld came to Temple University in 1990. His research areas include sparse matrix techniques; conjugate gradient type methods; and applications to Markov chains and Markov processes. Since 2006, he has had 25 papers published or in press. He has been cited more than 500 times by 369 authors, a substantial achievement in mathematics. He recently received a NSF grant for work in eigenvalues problems, Krylov subspace methods and subspace recycling.

“Daniel is a distinguished mathematician, recognized as an international leader in important, widely applicable areas of mathematical research. His record overthe last four years has been particularly impressive.”