Top educators give best, get rewarded


With the end of the semester upon us, most faculty members are busy preparing final exams, posting grades and cleaning out their offices for the summer break, but recently a few teachers caught a break with the announcement of the 2008-2009 Faculty Awards winners.

Sixteen professors were announced the winners of five different cash awards totaling $35,500.

The most prestigious award is the Distinguished Professor Award won by Jefferey Steagall from the Economics and Geography department. Runner-up for the award was William Klostermeyer from the School of Computing.

Winners for this award will receive $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Steagall said he is profoundly honored for his selection and that his job at UNF has been a team effort.

“Paul Mason [department chair] has been a friend and mentor for teaching and research since I arrived,” Steagall said.

The Outstanding Faculty Service Award winners were Sharon Cobb and Diane Turner, both from the Coggin College of Business, and both will receive cash awards of $2,000.

Cobb said she enjoys teaching more and more each year because of the quality of UNF students, and the growth of the curriculum.

“I’m thrilled to see that UNF now has a minor in Geography, which was my objective for years,” Cobb said.

Teresa Tuagon won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award with a cash reward of $2,000.

“Having the rare opportunity to be a part of students’ growth is in itself truly rewarding,” Tuagon said.

The final award, Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, gave $2000 to winners Mark Ari, English; Mina Baliamoune-Lutz, Economics and Geography; Melissa Bush, Chemistry and Physics; Andre’s Gallo, Economics and Geography; Christopher Leone, Psychology; Jeffrey Michelman, Accounting and Finance; Judith Ochrietor, Biology; Barbara Olinzock, Nursing; and Jennifer Wesely, Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Ari said the award also belongs to his colleagues whom he has learned so much from.

“I think of those from my fiction workshops whose energy has made creative writing a necessary part of the conversation at UNF,” Ari said. “It’s them and all the students who draw the best from us and make us want to live up to the richness of possibilities they represent.”

Amanda Tew, junior communication major, had Ari as a professor for fiction writing class.

Tew said that Ari is truly concerned with his students’ lives and how they succeed.

“He always pushes you to go beyond and to get published,” she said. “He’s not afraid to tell us when things are bad.”

“He’s one of those teachers that in 10 years you remember,” she said.

The funding for the outstanding undergraduate/graduate awards came from Academic Affairs, who received the monies from the Florida Board of Education.

Distinguished professor and faculty scholarship/service awards came from UNF’s Foundation Inc., said Cindy Chin, executive secretary of the faculty association.

All winners will receive wooden plaques along with the cash awards at the 38th Annual Fall Convocation August 28 at 10 a.m. Steagell will give a speech and receive a bronze medallion. Also President John Delaney will deliver his state of the university address.

The event, hosted in the Lazzara Performance Hall, is open to the public.

Rebecca McKinnon contributed to this report.