Teaching — 2004
The Award for Excellence in Teaching
recognizes faculty members for their skill, innovation,
and dedication to teaching and academic advising.
Characterized as a brilliant scientist and teacher
by his colleagues, Professor Ariel Caticha joined
the University staff in 1992 and is currently
the associate chair of the Physics department,
as well as the chair of both the Graduate and
Undergraduate Studies committees. A member of
the Undergraduate Advisement and Career Development
Committee, Professor Caticha earned his Ph.D.
in physics from the California Institute of Technology.
Noted for his high level of enthusiasm, accessibility,
and ability to convey subtle concepts, Caticha
constantly scores at the highest levels in all
of his teaching evaluations. “Any success I have
had in teaching derives from the fortunate selection
of courses I have taught,” he wrote. “I am deeply
interested in the subject matter because it is
closely connected to my research, and this becomes
obvious to my students.” An excellent classroom
teacher, Caticha has mentored six students toward
their doctoral dissertations. “I could not have
gotten to where I am today without all of his
help. I feel Professor Caticha was the greatest
teacher that I have had in all of my time in higher
education,” wrote one former graduate student.
Caticha is an internationally recognized scholar.
He has published 29 peer-reviewed articles, six
invited articles, and six additional publications.
Caticha has received research support 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.” He has served as
a reviewer of National Science Foundation research
grant proposals and also referees such scientific
journals as Physical Review Letters, Physical
Review A and B, Journal of Physics, Journal of
the Optical Society of America, and Journal de
Caticha believes, “Physics is learned by doing.”
He also is adamant about making himself available
to his students on several levels. “I am always,
inside and outside the classroom, extremely nice
to all students,” he wrote. An excellent scholar,
teacher, and citizen, Caticha has raised the quality
of teaching at the University at both the undergraduate
and graduate levels.
A member of the University faculty since 1992,
Professor Ron McClamrock is an associate professor
in the Department of Philosophy. Equally at home
in both large, introductory courses and small
advanced courses, McClamrock is considered a creative
teacher who uses examples in contemporary film,
science fiction and sports to pique students’
interest in the examination of philosophical tenets.
“I try to start an internal dialogue for them
by directly challenging particular beliefs they
bring to the subject matter, as I sometimes say
to them, if they walk away from the class saying
‘that can’t be right because’ … then I’ve done
a central part of my job,” he wrote in his Statement
of Teaching Philosophy. “Sometimes, those might
be beliefs that they themselves would recognize
as ‘philosophical’. But quite often, they are
things that are to them more surprising, in part,
because they didn’t think of them as part of ‘philosophy,’
but as more mundane things that they clearly felt
they knew. 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
Questioning things usually not questioned is
one of his teaching themes. He is an expert at
masterfully explaining complex philosophical ideas
and arguments. “[He] has an uncanny way of making
the hardest arguments clear, while not reducing
them to a form unrecognizably simple compared
to the original; preserving their complexity while
making them understandable,” wrote one student.
McClamrock is currently working on a second book.
In addition to his academic publications, he has
written several popular pieces that have been
reprinted in a variety of media. Highly accessible
to his students, McClamrock is known for his generous
office hours and his frequent “walk and talk”
sessions after class. He was the 2003 faculty
recipient of the Disabled Student Service Outstanding
Achievement Award. Wrote one former Ph.D. student,
“Prof. McClamrock’s commitment to his students
continues even after his official duties to them
An extraordinary award-winning teacher and scholar,
Professor David Smith is an associate professor
in the School of Business and has been employed
at the University since 1989. He was awarded the
School of Business Award for Undergraduate Teaching
in 1993, and was the recipient of the Dean W.
Warren Haynes Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate
Teaching in both 1994 and 2001.
The former chair of the Department of Finance,
Smith has earned four professional certifications:
Certified Management Accountant, Certified in
Financial Management, Certified Cash Manager,
and Chartered Financial Analyst.
“If I were starting a new business school, David
Smith would be the first faculty member that I
would hire,” wrote Interim Dean Paul Leonard.
“Professor Smith brings the complete package:
excellence in research, service, and teaching
… It is in the area of teaching, however, that
Professor Smith makes his greatest contributions.”
Smith has a strong research record. He has written
14 journal articles and is a consistent presenter
at the annual meetings of the Financial Management
Association and the Eastern Finance Association.
He serves on the editorial board of the Journal
of Business Research and has been an ad
hoc reviewer for The Business
Practice and Education, Financial
Services Review, Journal
of Business Research, and Quarterly
Journal of Business and Economics.
Enthusiastic and known for his attention to detail,
Smith regularly receives overall instructor ratings
of 4.50 in undergraduate classes and 4.60 in graduate
classes. In the past decade, he has organized
annual trips to Wall Street, and he has spearheaded
the Department of Finance’s effort to update its
curriculum. “His efforts in the area of teaching
have had an enormous impact on the culture of
teaching in the Department of Finance and on the
hundreds of students who have taken his classes,”
A strong researcher with extensive service commitments
throughout the University, Professor David G.
Wagner is an associate professor in the Department
of Sociology. A member of the department since
1985, Wagner consistently receives high instructor
ratings from 4.20 to 5.0. “Students learn best
when they are challenged,” he wrote. “I therefore
set high expectations for their performance.”
Wagner believes students should “learn how to
learn.” Former students agree with his style.
“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,’ ” wrote one student. “He
has afforded me the intellectual freedom to find
my own niche within academia.”
In addition to his dedication to his students,
Wagner is thoroughly involved with service to
the University and to his own profession. He is
chair of the Special Committee on Institutional
Review Board Integration, Council on Research.
He is a member of the University Senate and is
serving on the University Senate Executive Committee.
He spent nearly two years on the College of Arts
and Sciences Academic Support Committee, including
one year as chair, and has been president of the
New York State Sociological Association. Wagner
has served on the editorial board of three publications,
and as a reviewer for 11 publications.
Currently the recipient of a grant from the University’s
Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,
Wagner has written one book, been co-author of
one more and has written 24 articles in refereed
journals such as the American
Journal of Sociology and American
Sociological Review. An avid participant
in sociological conferences, Wagner has been awarded
two separate SUNY Faculty Research Awards, as
well as an American Sociological Association Problems
of the Discipline grant.