Distinguished Achievements

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May 13, 2013

Distinguished Achievements

Four Trinity University professors, one administrator honored for outstanding teaching, service, and scholarship

Outstanding Award Winners

By Susie P. Gonzalez

SAN ANTONIO - Outstanding Trinity University faculty members and an administrator have been honored for distinguished achievement in service, teaching, advising, or research. The awards were announced in early May by Trinity president Dennis A. Ahlburg and the University's Office of Academic and Student Affairs.

Peter Olofsson, professor and chair of mathematics, was recognized for outstanding scholarship and research. Linda Salvucci, associate professor of history, was lauded for her commitment and dedication to student advising. In addition, Ana Windham, associate vice president for Fiscal Affairs, received an award for distinguished University, community, and professional service.

Two junior faculty members - assistant professors Patrick Keating, communication, and Benjamin Surpless, geosciences - were cited for distinguished teaching and research.

Olofsson has emerged as a major scholar in probability theory and its applications. He has published a textbook and a general audience book on probability, numerous research articles in peer-reviewed outlets, and a general audience article in Skeptical Inquirer. Since joining the Trinity faculty in 2007, he has been the sole or contributing author of 10 articles in peer-reviewed journals. In 2009, he and several colleagues received $750,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to support integrated research in biomathematics. In 2010, he was awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health that supports an ongoing research program to develop models to analyze problems in cell biology. He has served as a reviewer for numerous academic journals and is on the editorial board for the mathematical biology section of the journal Biology Direct. At Trinity, he teaches calculus, probability and statistics, stochastic processes, and mathematical biology and has chaired the mathematics department since 2011.

Whether advising first-years, transfers, health professions, majors, pre-law students, Rhodes Scholar candidates, or the Catholic Students Group, Salvucci believes "that successful advising relationships are built upon trust and mutual respect. There is no one-size-fits-all formula; my responsibility is essentially to figure out how best to help each individual make his or her own way through Trinity and launch these young adults into an increasingly complex world." Her current and former students write glowingly of her work with them. Alumni said she demonstrates the values of integrity, perseverance, respect, excellence and a love of learning, and she has "the gift of making students feel as if they are the sole focus of her attention." Current students describe her as a role model "in every important way" who understands young adults without wanting to relive her youth.

Since arriving at Trinity in 1981, Windham has served on the Compliance Certification Team for the 2008 reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Based on the extraordinary thoroughness and clarity of the materials she prepared, Trinity was approved on all fiscal standards in the first review stage. As a member of the President's Task Force on Sustainability, she found ways to manage Trinity's endowments to benefit the environment. In the community, she is a board member and treasurer of the San Antonio Academy, member of the United Way Funds Distribution Committee, and board member and former Fellow of the Community Education and Leadership Program. She has also held various leadership posts for the annual campaign of the Downtown YMCA of San Antonio, winning the YMCA Annual Community Volunteer Award in 2008. She has impressed her colleagues with her dedication, expertise, work ethic, can-do attitude, and perseverance.

Keating has taught 10 different courses at Trinity, including First-Year Seminar, Media Interpretation and Criticism, Introduction to Film Studies, International Cinema, Narrative Production and Montage, and the Communication Capstone Seminar. His students routinely describe his teaching as "enthralling" and "inspiring." His first book, Hollywood Lighting from the Silent Era to Film Noir, won the Best First Book Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies and was a finalist for an award from the Theatre Library Association. A second project, A Dynamic Frame: Classical Cinema, Modernity, and Camera Movement, is supported by a $25,000 research grant from the Academy Film Scholars program and a fellowship from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he has organized two Stieren Arts Enrichment Series lectures and has served on a number of committees. He currently chairs the Film Studies Minor Faculty Advisory Committee and the First-Year Seminar Steering Committee.

An exemplary teacher, Surpless excels in engaging science-phobic students in lower-division Common Curriculum courses such as Exploring Earth and Environmental Geology. He both challenges and supports students as they work to meet his high expectations. One departmental colleague praises his ability to provide meaningful field experiences for upper-division students, calling Surpless "inspirational" and having "infectious enthusiasm." Surpless has published major articles in peer-reviewed journals, and he has taken part in 29 conference presentations, 24 of which have involved undergraduate students. He has mentored 11 undergraduate researchers in the past five years while performing field work in west Texas and Nevada and lab work at Trinity, and travelling to Pomona College and Williams College to use specialized instruments. At Trinity, he has served on the Sustainability Committee, the Conduct Review Board, and the advisory committee for the Collaborative for Learning and Teaching, and he was instrumental in recent efforts to develop an Environmental Studies major.

Susie P. Gonzalez is assistant director of University Communications and can be reached at susie.gonzalez@trinity.edu.