Honors College Recognizes Teaching, Leadership
Four faculty members honored at annual receptionTuesday, November 06, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Honors College professors reviewed more than 750 fellowship and grant applications last year, in addition to putting in many hours each week preparing for and teaching honors courses, meeting with honors students and writing letters of recommendation. The Honors College celebrated these efforts at the annual Honors College faculty reception Monday night, and recognized four faculty members who have been especially active in their support of honors students. Dean Bob McMath presented a bronze medallion to each of this year’s Distinguished Faculty Award and Distinguished Leadership Award recipients, who will also receive $1,000 to support undergraduate research.
“This year’s honorees have been exceptional mentors to our honors students, engaging them in real-world, hands-on research and leadership activities,” McMath said. “It was difficult to select just four. We are grateful to all of our faculty members for engaging and challenging these bright students.”
The 2012 recipients of the Honors College Distinguished Faculty Award are:
Gisela Erf, Tyson Endowed Professor in Avian Immunology, Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Ten years ago, when Bumpers College launched its honors program, Gisela Erf ensured that honors students could get involved with hands-on bench research by developing and securing start-up funding for the honors Laboratory Rotations course.
Since then, honors students from both Bumpers College and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences have joined in her biomedical research and her work with poultry immunology. A number of these students have contributed to her research to better understand and eventually treat vitiligo, an incurable autoimmune disease. Erf has directed 10 honors theses, with five more currently in progress, and has served on five honors committees. A number of her students have received Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship awards and Honors College research grants, and her students regularly produce top-notch capstone thesis projects.
Erf has been honored with the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy Award of Excellence (2001), the University of Arkansas Alumni Association Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and Teaching (2006), and the Bumpers College Jack G. Justus Award for Excellence in Teaching (2005).
Christa Hestekin, assistant professor of chemical engineering, College of Engineering. Christa Hestekin’s biomedical research focuses on finding genetic alterations that lead to disease, such as protein aggregation or DNA mutations. Under her guidance, 22 undergraduate students, 10 of them members of the Honors College, have carried out research that may contribute to the early detection of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.
Hestekin has worked with students from several disciplines beyond chemical engineering, including biological sciences, biomedical engineering and chemistry, and her former students are working in top engineering firms and pursuing advanced degrees in engineering and medicine. Her students have received SURF and Honors College research grants and one of them, Hannah Lintag, won second place at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers undergraduate poster competition. Hestekin teaches Honors “Thermodynamics of Single Components” and will teach Honors “Fluid Mechanics,” next semester.
Her prior teaching awards include the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering Teaching Award (2011) and the University of Arkansas Golden Tusk Award (2012).
Hoyt Purvis, professor of journalism, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Hoyt Purvis served as press secretary and special assistant to U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright and as foreign and defense policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd before coming to the University of Arkansas in 1982. He has shared his experience in honors colloquia on a variety of topics, focusing in recent years on offering “Government, Politics and the Media.”
He has mentored 89 honors students to successful completion of their honors theses, on topics ranging from portrayals of male and female athletes in Sports Illustrated to an analysis of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. He has also served on 257 honors thesis committees while maintaining a full teaching load in journalism. He founded the international relations program and served as its director until 2011. Purvis was chair of the presidentially appointed Fulbright Scholarship Board from 1993-2003.
His prior teaching awards include the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award (1992), the University of Arkansas Alumni Association Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and Teaching (1993) and the Phi Beta Delta Outstanding International Educator Award (1998).
One faculty member was recognized with the Honors College Distinguished Leadership Award:
Javier Reyes, vice provost for distance education and associate professor of economics, Sam M. Walton College of Business. Javier Reyes accomplished a great deal in three years as director of the Walton College Honors Program. Under his leadership, the program raised its academic standards and expanded honors course offerings within the pre-business curriculum. He also launched the Walton College Honors Student Executive Board, which offers student leaders an opportunity to participate in the planning and direction of the honors program. The Walton College honors program enjoyed steady growth during his tenure, welcoming 135 honors freshmen in 2012, the largest class in the history of the program.
Reyes’ research currently focuses on emerging economies, and he has directed 20 honors theses exploring economic issues around the world, ranging from the socio-economic impact of microfinance to copper price stocks and the business cycle of the Chilean economy.
He received the All-Around Faculty Member Award from Walton College in 2009, was selected as a University of Arkansas Fellow in the 2011 SEC Academic Leadership Consortium, and was inducted into the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy in 2012.
“The leadership that Javier brought to the Walton Honors program set it on a course for success that will last far into the future,” said Eli Jones, dean of Walton College. “His enthusiasm and drive were an inspiration to all the Walton Honors students and everyone who worked with him in the program.”
Bob McMath, dean
Kendall Curlee, director of communications
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