UAlbany faculty honored for Excellence in Teaching
UAlbany faculty are deeply engaged with their disciplines and committed to their students’ learning. They are teachers, scholars, mentors, researchers, advisors and friends. This year four UAlbany faculty members received Excellence in Teaching awards in recognition of these attributes plus their skill, innovation and dedication to teaching and advising.
Professor and Associate Chair of Physics Ariel Caticha strongly believes that “physics is learned by doing.” To encourage students to join him on his voyage of discovery, the scholar – internationally recognized for his work on a “theory of X-ray and neutron scattering by thin film multilayers” and “capillary waveguides for soft X-rays and neutrons” – makes himself accessible to his undergraduate and graduate students both inside and outside the classroom.
Caticha is also noted for his enthusiasm and for his ability to convey subtle concepts. These talents, combined with his accessibility, consistently earn him high marks from students who evaluate his teaching.
To date, Caticha has mentored six students toward their doctoral dissertations. In addition, he has served as a reviewer of National Science Foundation research grant proposals. The author of numerous peer-reviewed and invited articles, Caticha also referees such scientific journals as Physical Review Letters, Journal of Physics, and Journal of the Optical Society of America.
While movies, science fiction, and sports are things most young people enjoy during their free time, Associate Professor of Philosophy Ron McClamrock brings popular culture into the classroom to spark student interest in examining philosophical tenets.
McClamrock, who joined the UAlbany faculty in 1992 and received the 2003 Disabled Student Services Outstanding Achievement Award for faculty, notes in his Statement of Teaching Philosophy: “I try to start an internal dialogue for [students] by directly challenging particular beliefs they bring to the subject matter. . .If they walk away from the class saying, ‘That can’t be right, because. . .’ then I’ve done a central part of my job. If I can push them to see a tension in these well-entrenched beliefs, I can get them to take up the themes of the course in their own internal examination of their beliefs and perceptions, and to begin the process of actively engaging in the material and trying to think critically about it.” McClamrock is well known for his accessibility to students, who praise him for the number of office hours he devotes to them weekly, as well as for his frequent after-class “walk and talk” sessions.
Associate Professor of Finance David M. Smith has earned four professional certifications: certified management accountant, certified in financial management, certified cash manager, and chartered financial analyst. From the students in his undergraduate and graduate courses, he also earns high marks as a teacher.
Known for his enthusiasm and his attention to detail, Smith, who joined the UAlbany faculty in 1989, received the School of Business Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 1993. In both 1994 and 2001, he earned the Dean W. Warren Haynes Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching.
The former chair of UAlbany’s finance department is likewise recognized for his strengths as a researcher. Smith, the author of 14 journal articles and a regular presenter at annual meetings of the Financial Management Association and the Eastern Finance Association, serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Business Research. He has also been an ad hoc reviewer for several publications, including The Business Journal, Financial Management, Financial Practice and Education, and Financial Review.
David G. Wagner
According to David G. Wagner, an associate professor in UAlbany’s Department of Sociology, students should “learn how to learn.” He is there to encourage them in that endeavor.
“Students learn best when they are challenged,” says Wagner, who joined the department in 1985 and consistently receives high instructor ratings from his students. “I therefore set high expectations for their performance.” Former students agree with his style. Wrote one: “He has consistently held me to the highest standards of academic research and integrity, while simultaneously challenging me to expand my intellectual capacity, to think creatively ‘outside the box,’ and to ‘push the envelope.’ He has afforded me the intellectual freedom to find my own niche within academia.”
Wagner is also an inspiration outside the classroom, chairing the Special Committee on Institutional Review Board (IRB) Policy, Council on Research, and serving as a member of the University Senate and on the senate’s Executive Committee. Wagner, the former president of the New York Sociological Association (2001-02), has served on the editorial boards of three publications, including Current Research in Social Psychology, and as a reviewer for nearly a dozen publications.
UAlbany faculty and staff who received Excellence Awards in 2004