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Contact: Christine Payton May 4, 2009
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
 
 
FOUNDATION HONORS 2009 DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORS, OUTSTANDING TEACHERS
 
For the first time, the UL Lafayette Foundation honored two faculty members with its Dr. Ray P. Authement Excellence in Teaching Award in April.

It typically presents one teaching award and three Distinguished Professor Awards every year, based on the recommendations of a committee composed of faculty members.

This year, the field of candidates for outstanding teacher was narrowed to two: Dr. Russell Hibbeler, a professor of chemical engineering, and Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, an associate professor of history.

“When the committee voted, there was a tie. That says a lot about the caliber of these professors. The Foundation’s board of directors decided to honor both,” said Julie Bolton Falgout, executive director of the UL Lafayette Foundation.

Distinguished Professor Awards were presented to Dr. Christine DeVine, associate professor of English; Devesh Misra, professor of chemical engineering; and Dr. William Rieck, professor of curriculum and instruction.

Honorees receives a stipend and their names are inscribed on plaques that are permanently displayed in Edith Garland Dupré Library. The Distinguished Professor Award was established in 1965. The Excellence in Teaching Award, which began in 1992, was renamed the Dr. Ray P. Authement Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008.

Dr. Christine DeVine

Dr. Christine DeVine began her teaching career at UL Lafayette less than 10 years ago, yet her list of accomplishments is already impressive.

“ Dr. DeVine has been one of the most productive scholars in the English Department since joining the faculty in 2001, shortly after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, and has built a national reputation as a scholar of Victorian literature,” wrote Dr. James McDonald, professor and head of UL Lafayette’s Department of English.

McDonald noted that DeVine is a scholar of both fiction and literary nonfiction and travel writing. She is also working “to bring more attention to neglected women authors. Her scholarship builds on interdisciplinary research on literature’s connections with social class, gender construction and the visual arts. . .”

Her interest in teaching led her to develop a graduate seminar on teaching literature in college. It has grown steadily and this year featured speakers from across the nation and overseas.

McDonald summarized DeVine’s academic contributions by noting that she “brings a keen mind, an impressive work ethic, and important international and interdisciplinary knowledge and insights to her work.”

Dr. Devesh Misra

Patented research at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette may help doctors deliver medicines – such as those that fight cancer – directly to a tumor using magnetic fields.

It was developed by Dr. Devesh Misra, a professor of chemical engineering and director of UL Lafayette’s Center for Structural and Functional Materials.

The drug delivery method he has devised uses nanotechnology to place drugs inside cancerous cells, without harming healthy cells. Nanotechnology refers to a field that deals with matter on an atomic and molecular scale.

Such innovation is just one reason why he was nominated for the UL Lafayette Foundation’s 2009 Distinguished Professor Award.

“Dr. Misra’s work is known across the globe as a body of solid fundamental knowledge that has greatly expanded the state of the art for both metallic and polymeric materials. The vast array of funding agencies, ranging from federal to state to private sector sponsors, attest to his ability to rapidly utilize basic concepts to solve pressing engineering problems. He is definitely one of the most productive research faculty members within the college; yet, he is also deeply appreciated by his many students for passing along his love of engineering to them with his classes,” said Dr. Mark Zappi, dean of UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering.

Dr. William Rieck

As a professor of curriculum and instruction, Dr. William Rieck helps students become teachers.

One of the courses he teaches, for example, is classroom management and instructional design. He shows future instructors how to map out plans with exact details on how lessons will be taught.

In a letter nominating Rieck for the UL Lafayette Foundation’s 2009 Distinguished Professor Award, Dr. Gerald Carlson, dean of the College of Education, said he is “demanding, but fair. Students have commented that they have been successful in passing the final Praxis exam because of what they learned in his class. Students are fortunate because he includes his scholarship and research in the classroom, which serves as a model for students.”

Dr. Christine Briggs, head of Curriculum and Instruction, said Rieck’s high expectations for teacher candidates serve as a guide for them to become highly able teachers. “In speaking with graduates of the program, many share that his courses are challenging but upon completion of these courses, the candidates refer to the experience as pivotal in their teacher preparation process. These testimonials speak to the type of teacher he is and how he ‘pays it forward’ to his students,” she said.

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, an associate professor of history, concentrates on U.S. women’s history, U.S. constitutional and legal history, and African-American history in the Age of Emancipation.

“ Her classes always fill early and all of her students consistently evaluate her as a challenging, caring, devoted, passionate and thoughtful instructor,” stated Dr. Robert Carriker, head of UL Lafayette’s History Department, in a letter recommending that she receive the 2009 Ray P. Authement Outstanding Teaching Award. “Furthermore, her academic/scholarly magnetism pertains to every level of student, from the marginal to the honors and graduate students. Her dedication is universal.”

Carriker noted that Farmer-Kaiser “has made herself a point person for Teaching American History grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Through those grants, she positions herself to instruct secondary school teachers of Acadiana in new approaches to teaching history.”

Farmer-Kaiser is graduate coordinator for the History and Geography Department. “Under her stewardship, the program has flourished and grown by all measures, from the number of students enrolled in the program to the number of graduates. Her professional guidance is felt by every student who enters the program,” Carriker said.

Russell Hibbeler

Dr. Russell Hibbeler’s academic influence reaches far beyond UL Lafayette’s campus.

The professor of chemical engineering is known internationally for textbooks he has written. He has authored four textbooks in the field of engineering that are used throughout the world as the standard text for engineering. Several of those textbooks are in their twelfth edition and he hopes to finish a fifth book this summer.

Dr. Mark Zappi, dean of UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering, described Hibbeler as “one of the most globally recognized engineering educators.” His books “are considered the bible of how to teach basic engineering mechanics to undergraduate students.”

Hibbeler worked in Chicago, New York and at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois for a few years. He spent a semester in Lafayette in 1973 before returning to Argonne. But, he knew he wanted to live in Acadiana someday.

In the late 1970s, Hibbeler accepted a faculty position in UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering. He has earned the respect of colleagues and students.

Dr. Kenneth McManis, head of the university’s Civil Engineering Department noted: “In many respects, Dr. Hibbeler ensures quality control for our programs and brings value to the engineering degree.”

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Document last revised Monday, May 4, 2009 11:06 AM

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