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Student-nominated award honors excellence in teaching
Ohio University announces 2007-08 University Professors

ATHENS, Ohio (April 12, 2007) -- Being a finalist for the University Professor award is a bit like applying for a job as a faculty member. It requires rigorous interviews, class observations and course proposals. The one difference? Students are the ones doing the evaluating.

Haley DuschinskiStudents nominate outstanding professors in the fall; then a unique student committee conducts an exhaustive process of vetting the top candidates before selecting the winners. 

"The student selection committee goes well beyond a simple voting mechanism, investing hours into classroom visits and interviews, seeking evidence that solid, high quality teaching underlies the apparent popularity," said one of this year's winners, Associate Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology Arthur Trese.

Annually, five faculty members receive the award, now in its 37th year. In addition to Trese, the 2007-08 University Professors are: Assistant Professor of Anthropology Haley Duschinski, Assistant Professor of Sport Management Heather Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Economics Donald Lacombe and Assistant Professor of Telecommunications Eric Williams.

Donald Lacombe photo by Rick FaticaBeing recognized by the people most impacted by their work is a meaningful honor for Ohio University professors dedicated to honoring the tradition of excellence in teaching.

"Students drive what we do every day," Lawrence said. "Those students that are in class every day with you, for them to recognize the effort you put into it is really special."

Each University Professor receives $2,000, may teach two classes on a subject of his or her choosing, and has his or her name listed on a commemorative plaque outside University College in Chubb Hall. Some background about this year's awardees and the courses they plan to teach:

Haley Duschinski

Haley Duschinski, who has taught courses including "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" and "Cultural Contact and Change," researches violence, conflict, and peace in South Asia. She currently is working on a book manuscript on post-conflict peace and reconstruction efforts in Kashmir Valley, India.

The first of Duschinski's two University Professor courses is "Bombay Dreams: Ethnographic Explorations of Cosmopolitan South Asia," which is designed to help students understand how anthropological perspectives can shed light on the issues and challenges facing South Asia in the 21st century. The second, "Truth, Justice, and Accountability: The Anthropology of Human Rights," will help students understand the ways in which anthropological perspectives can inform political activism and social justice in response to issues of vital global concern.

Heather Lawrence photo by Rick FaticaFor Duschinski, who is in her second year as a professor at Ohio University, receiving the award has been an honor.

"It is, without a doubt, the high point of my teaching career so far," she said. "The award clearly demonstrates Ohio University's strong commitment to teaching and learning at the undergraduate level."

Donald Lacombe

Donald Lacombe teaches courses including "Principles of Microeconomics," "Public Finance," and "Econometrics." His research interests lie in the application of spatial econometric methods to questions in applied microeconomic fields as well as public finance and public choice, with his latest paper focusing on accounting for spacial error correlation in the 2004 presidential popular vote. 

Lacombe plans to offer a course that concentrates on the reading of weblogs devoted to economic analysis. The course will give students the opportunity to discuss and analyze various timely social issues from an economic perspective.

For Lacombe, the award has special meaning. 

"I am honored to receive this award, especially given the fact that it is my students who have given me this honor," Lacombe said. "I strive for excellence in the classroom and it's nice to be recognized by my students."

Heather Lawrence

Heather Lawrence, who was an NCAA All-American diver, brings extensive athletic experience and research expertise to the classroom.

Art Trese photo by Rick FaticaRecent research projects on topics such as NCAA recruiting and the experience of the student-athlete during the recruiting process and luxury suite ownership trends in professional sports inform her work teaching courses like "Athletic Facility Planning and Management," "Youth and Sport" and "Women in Sport."

For her University Professor class, she will teach a course called "Intercollegiate Athletics," which will focus on contemporary issues in all areas of intercollegiate athletics and the role intercollegiate athletics plays in higher education. 

"Teaching is the most important role I feel I have as a faculty member," she said. "(Students') excitement level about what you do means a lot."

Arthur Trese

This year marks the second University Professor award for Trese, who received the recognition in 2002. He also is recipient of the 2004 Presidential Teacher Award, which is voted on by a faculty committee. Trese, whose research interests range from food security to organic culture, teaches courses including "The World of Plants," "Plants and People" and "Plant Pathology." 

Trese looks forward to teaching a course of his choosing. He says, "I love teaching University Professor classes because, for me, it is a rather rare opportunity to work closely with a small number of students and to let them do far more of the teaching."

Eric Williams photo by Rick FaticaHe will teach "Science and Ethics," which is intended to give students an opportunity to consider the many ethical dilemmas posed by rapid advances in the biological sciences and the associated technologies and capabilities. 

Eric Williams

Williams brings extensive field experience to the classroom. He create a pilot television episode for American Movie Classics and received "Best New Work" honors from the Writers Guild of America, for example. The courses he has taught, such as "Writing for Television," "Script Analysis" and "Single Camera Video Production," reflect those experiences. Academic interests including the American media influences on the emerging democracy of Ukraine help round out the experiences he brings to the classroom.

For his University Professor award, he will teach two classes: "Crafting the Feature Film" will teach students how to turn stories into a feature film script. The class, taught in the fall, is for students without writing backgrounds, students will analyze feature film scripts to learn the tools and techniques of screenwriting. "Rewriting a Feature Film" will guide students through the process of rewriting their own feature film scripts. 

"I hope (the courses provide) an opportunity for students who might not consider screenwriting," he said, "They have important stories to tell and they should learn how to tell them."

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Contact: Senior Director of Media Relations Sally Linder at 740-597-1793 or linders@ohio.edu 

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