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Faculty Awards

2021 Faculty Awards

The 2021 faculty award for outstanding teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Nicola Work in the Department of Global Languages and Cultures.

Dr. Work holds a Ph.D. in modern languages from Wayne State University in Detroit. She came to the University of Dayton in 2008 as an instructor and joined the tenure-track faculty in 2009 as assistant professor of French. She was promoted to associate professor in 2015.

Dr. Work’s excellence in teaching is demonstrated by the transformative impact she has made on students, as well as her sustained commitment to teaching development through her research and work with the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center.

In her nomination letter, Dr. Carola Daffner, global languages and cultures department chair, characterized Dr. Work as a creative, energetic and personable teacher with remarkably high student evaluations. In addition, she is an educator whose teaching is informed, innovative, sophisticated and effective.

Dr. Work’s communicative approach to teaching encourages students to learn the French language not through repetitive drills, but instead by using it to do things that they care about, from learning about student life in France to creating their own imaginary French businesses. This approach further motivates students and broadens the goals of foreign language study by helping students to recognize how fully embedded language and culture are in one another.

In their evaluations from the past year, which included face-to-face, blended and fully online courses, students called Dr. Work “outstanding” and the “best professor” they’ve had at UD. The evaluations highlight her organizational skills, clear explanations and genuine concern for student’s continued success inside and outside the classroom.

“Tech-savvy, collaborative, and creative, Dr. Work interacts well with her students, encouraging us to enter into dialogue with one another and walking around the classroom to join this dialogue herself,” wrote one of her students. “Moreover, her PowerPoints are not only beautiful and organized but also interactive with Google Slides and Jamboards that all students can respond to in groups. Her creativity to engage students reaches its culmination with her well-known and beloved ‘jeu d’evasion’ escape rooms at the end of the year.”

Dr. Work is an ASPIRE, Leadership UD and LTC Studio fellow. She also is a certified Apple teacher and serves as faculty advisor to the University’s French Club. In addition, she has published, presented research, and given workshops for higher education and K-12 teachers on the use of escape rooms in the college classroom, and on the use of iPads and other technology tools to enhance language learning.

For sustained, sophisticated teaching that challenges and stimulates students, and inspires a passion for language learning, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Nicola Work with the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2021.

The 2021 faculty award for outstanding scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Kyle Phelps in the Department of Art and Design.

Professor Phelps holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics and sculpture from the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts. He joined the University of Dayton fine arts faculty in 2001, alongside his identical twin brother, Kelly Phelps. Both were awarded tenure and promotion in 2008. Kyle is a professor and head of the department’s sculpture area. His brother, Kelly, is a professor and head of sculpture at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

Kyle Phelps has more than 20 years of practice as a professional artist, often in collaboration with his brother, with whom he has produced a large body of work about the modern plight of the blue-collar worker in the United States. He is nationally acclaimed in his field of ceramics and sculpture, and his award-winning work has been featured in more than 100 solo and group exhibitions at museums, universities and private galleries. His accomplishments also include artist talks, workshops, publications and panel presentations.

The Phelps brothers’ visual art is inspired by their family members and friends who worked at manufacturing plants, steel mills and foundries in their native Indiana. They have combined found objects such as gears and corrugated metal with handcrafted ceramic/resin cast figures to create a visual narrative composition about the blue-collar experience.

Their work is widely collected by more than 100 private and public institutions, including the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; the Canton Art Museum in Canton, Ohio; Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York; and the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. They also have completed more than 75 commissions for public and corporate collections that include the NAACP National Headquarters and the Brown-Forman Company, as well as for the private collections of actor Morgan Freeman, filmmaker Michael Moore and musician Bootsy Collins.

Kyle Phelps has given nearly a dozen individual and panel presentations on his research at such diverse venues as the McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and the AFL-CIO National Meeting at the Steelworkers Union Hall in Baltimore. In 2014, he demonstrated his creative technique at the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts, the premier venue for ceramic artists.

The Phelps brothers were the subjects of feature articles in Ceramics Monthly, Sculpture and American Craft magazines. They also will be profiled in the forthcoming book, Survey of Contemporary African American Artists.

“One of Kyle’s incredible achievements was being the featured demonstrating artist at the 2018 National Ceramics Education Conference in Pittsburgh,” wrote Sheri Leigh O’Connor, fine arts department chair at Sierra Nevada University, who first met Kyle while he was in graduate school. “There was a huge audience present, and they were really engaged in the demos that Kyle offered. He was articulate and knowledgeable, just as he was here at SNU during his 2014 workshop. Our students were also very impressed at that time, watching Kyle make his work in his unique style, and talking about the process in detail. It was an amazing accomplishment and made me extremely proud to know him.”

For scholarly achievement that demonstrates a sustained body of creative research over two decades, and his work’s message of social justice and exploration of American labor, the College is pleased to recognize Professor Kyle Phelps with the Outstanding Scholarship Award for 2021.

The 2021 faculty award for outstanding service in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Neomi De Anda in the Department of Religious Studies.

Dr. De Anda holds a Ph.D. in constructive theology from Loyola University Chicago. She joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2013 as assistant professor of religious studies. She was promoted in 2018 to associate professor.

Dr. De Anda is a Lay Marianist and member of the Micah Theotokos Marianist Lay Community. Her strong record of quality service to the University and the Department of Religious Studies supports the Catholic, Marianist mission and identity of UD. She has worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion on campus by serving on the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Task Force, and co-creating the Latinx and Latin American Studies minor. In addition, she is active in service to her discipline, serving as president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the U.S. (ACHTUS), which held its annual meeting at the University of Dayton in June 2019.

Dr. De Anda began her appointment at the University with a focus on developing Marianist values. She is a consultant for the Marianist Family and a mentor for the Marianist PULSE program. She also has served as a student advisor of the Marianist Student Communities, a task that requires mentors to meet with students and provide formation activities and prayer times. Her service work in this area led her to develop a related 3-credit course, Living as Marianist Student Communities.

As ACHTUS president and president-elect, Dr. De Anda launched a mentoring program for Catholic Latinx students considering a Ph.D. in theology or religious studies. The Forum for Theological Exploration, a leadership incubator backed by the Lilly Endowment, awarded funds to support the initiative.

In October 2018, she served as an organizer and main speaker of a three-day teach-in for justice at the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas. “I saw Dr. De Anda place her faith and academic expertise at the service of the cross-border community of El Paso-Juarez, of students and colleagues who came from multiple Catholic universities, and of the broader Church,” wrote Dr. Victor Carmona, ACHTUS vice president and assistant professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego, in his letter of support for this award.

During summer 2020, Dr. De Anda served as chair of the Path Forward Academic Faculty Review Processes Subgroup, which was charged with proposing recommendations for modifications to faculty evaluation processes that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dr. De Anda was a thorough and thoughtful servant-leader who ensured that the working group’s recommendations were transparent, equitable and deeply conscious of potential bias,” wrote Dr. Leslie Picca, 2020-2021 Academic Senate president. “Under her leadership, the recommendations were accepted by the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate and adopted by the Provost.”

For her impactful service to the University, her department and field, and for her work advocating for people and on behalf of justice, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Neomi De Anda with the Outstanding Service Award for 2021.

The 2021 faculty award for outstanding contributions by a full-time, non-tenure track faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Laura Toomb in the Department of Communication.

A passionate University of Dayton alumna, Ms. Toomb lives by the Marianist motto of Learn, Lead and Serve. She holds a master’s degree in communication from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from UD. She joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2015 as a communication lecturer. In 2019, she received the Department of Communication’s Outstanding Lecturer Award.

Ms. Toomb has made important contributions to the University, College and her department across the areas of quality teaching, professional development and service. She has made a positive impact as an advisor in the College’s Discover Arts program, where she helps students discern their vocation, keeps them on track for their desired major, and presents alternative pathways to introduce them to majors they might not have otherwise considered.

As a teacher, Ms. Toomb’s Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) scores are consistently well above the department average, with the majority falling above 4.6 out of 5.0. That is a remarkable achievement considering that she teaches a significant number of CMM 100 sections, a required course for all students that often results in lower average scores in all key indicators — but not for Ms. Toomb.

Sumpter Miller, a 2020 graduate who had Ms. Toomb as his ASI advisor and twice as an instructor, considers her to be one of the best professors at UD. “Professor Toomb is truly a great representation of University of Dayton faculty,” he wrote. “Her teaching ability and connection with her students is what differentiates her from other faculty members. Professor Toomb shows no favoritism in the classroom, she makes sure all students participate in class activities, and ensures students have the necessary resources to succeed in her class.”

Ms. Toomb redesigned an upper-level elective, CMM 322: Interviewing for Communication and Business, transforming it into an experiential learning opportunity for students. She brings in 10 professionals and conducts videotaped mock interviews at the Fiore Talarico Sales Center. In addition, she has raised $3,500 from corporate sponsors in recent years to host a four-course business etiquette dinner in Kennedy Union for 100 students from across the University.

Last summer, Ms. Toomb helped create the online curriculum for the Early Start program for incoming first-year students. She then adapted the template for use by Discover Program instructors for their fall semester online and hybrid courses. It has since been adopted for use in the School of Business, School of Engineering, and the School of Education and Health Sciences. In addition, she created an online form that is now used by all College departments, which has streamlined pre-search processes for new full-time faculty lines.

She is a Marianist Education Associate who has served on the College and Department of Communication lecturer promotion committees. She created an online public speaking course as a member of the eLearning Fellows program, and co-chaired the Flyer Media Task Force. In addition, she serves as faculty advisor for Phi Kappa Phi and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Club.

For outstanding, high-impact teaching, and strong service and leadership to the College and her department, the College is pleased to recognize Laura Toomb with the Outstanding Contribution, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award for 2021.

2021 Emeritus Faculty

Remarks by Rebecca Whisnant

I’m both pleased and saddened to bid this personal and professional farewell to Peggy DesAutels, who’s been not only a valued colleague but a mentor and friend to me since I came to UD.

Peggy earned her PhD at Washington University in 1995, and in 2001 she arrived at UD, where she’s been full professor since 2012. She has co-edited three anthologies including Feminists Doing Ethics, Global Feminist Ethics, and Moral Psychology: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory. The latter is near and dear to my heart because I had an article therein, and Peggy really liked it. My understanding is that she therefore had some mysterious but significant role in my own arrival at UD in 2003. She has also authored upwards of twenty articles and book chapters, whose titles give a sense of the range of her expertise: from "Moral Perception and Responsiveness” and "Sex Differences and Neuroethics" to "Resisting Organizational Power" and “The Perils of Whistleblowing,” the latter two topics pointing the way to some of Peggy’s own unfailing courage in doing what she thinks is right. Peggy has a gift for crossing disciplinary boundaries and working collaboratively with other scholars, as evidenced in her recent article with Jack Bauer, titled “When ‘Life Gets in the Way’: Generativity and the Development of Non-Idealized Virtues in Women’s Life Stories.”

In addition to her scholarly work and her standing as both a beloved and a demanding teacher, Peggy has been a leader in making the profession of philosophy more diverse, and in particular more fair and hospitable for women. For a number of years, she directed the site visit program of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women. In this program, a team of three philosophers trained in diversity issues visits philosophy departments to assess their climate and opportunities for female and minority students and faculty and make recommendations for change. She also co-organized a 2013 conference on diversity in philosophy, bringing philosophers from all over the country, and even the world, to UD to discuss making our discipline more diverse and inclusive. Peggy’s efforts on the diversity and inclusion front have benefited our own institution as well, with her service as Equity Advisor in College of Arts and Sciences and her work, funded by an ADVANCE grant, to promote women in STEM fields. For these and other contributions, Peggy received the College’s Award for Outstanding Service in 2012.

Comments from departmental colleagues emphasize not only Peggy’s independence and courage, but also her unflagging support for junior colleagues. One newer faculty member says “My very first memory of Peggy was of her grilling me during my campus interview, and of feeling like I was bungling every answer! But my second and third (and fourth and fifth) memories are of her telling me how happy she is that I joined the department. Her encouragement and support made me feel incredibly welcome.” An associate professor reports, “During my first interview at UD, Peggy went out of her way to emphasize that I would be free to publish whatever I wanted, teach whatever I wanted and the department would back me. It was important to her that I leave the room assured that we have intellectual independence here.” A female colleague writes that “She helped me when I needed advice for publishing papers, and she taught me how to negotiate and advocate for myself.” And another points out that “Peggy, along with a handful of other women, caused a seismic shift in UD’s administration, ushering in a new era where diversity, equity and inclusion are taken more seriously. She took a tremendous risk and sacrificed a great deal for the good of us all.”

Peggy, thank you for inspiring us and leading the way. We wish you the very best in your retirement, and we will miss you!

Remarks by Dean Jason Pierce

Dr. John Erdei earned his PhD in physics from the University of Cincinnati in 1983, the same year he joined UD’s Department of Physics as an assistant professor. While John is a trained theoretical physicist, he has taught just about every course in the physics curriculum, as is the department’s long-standing expectation of their faculty. In addition to teaching upper-level and advanced courses, John embraced the challenge of teaching the introductory physics course for over ten years, that is the physics course without mathematics. He found this course one of the most challenging and most rewarding because as he put it, “It’s tempting to lapse into the math if you can’t explain it well at the conceptual level. But having the ability to explain physics conceptually to non-physics students is the meat and potatoes.”

Another favorite class of John’s is his astronomy course, which attracted students from across the university. Those who know John can hear his voice when answering why astronomy was one of his favorites: “Because it’s stinking interesting.”

Beyond the classroom, John has dedicated significant time and professional effort to serve in a number of important administrative leadership roles. He served as Director of Premedical Programs for five years, where he helped to promote Premedical Programs as a distinct program and expand the program’s reach to all students across the University interested in medically oriented careers. He convened the Stander Symposium for its first ten years and played a critical role in expanding Stander from a few hours of posters primarily from the natural sciences to a multi-day multi-disciplinary celebration of student scholarship, including the arts and music. He also served for eight years as assistant dean in the College, working primarily with natural science majors. Most recently, he’s served as chairperson of the physics department. Looking at his current administrative appointment, John celebrates the collaborative work with faculty and staff colleagues to promote excellent instruction, growth in sponsored research and student research.

John’s collaborations have gone beyond the department and campus. He was a visiting scientist for seven years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where he researched fractals and chaotic behaviors in materials among other topics. One fond, if unexpected collaboration, that emerged from his fractal search, came in partnership with music faculty member Phil Magnuson. Combining John’s fractal research with Phil's composition skill, the two partnered to generate music using electroencephalograms. John and Phil wryly named their paradigm shifting piece, “Fugue on EEG.” If only Spotify had been around at the time!

I congratulate John on his promotion to professor emeritus and thank him for his years of service, his humor and level-headedness and his commitment to our students, colleagues and the mission of the institution.

Ellen Fleischmann, Department of History, was promoted to Professor Emerita in 2021.

Remarks by Chris Agnew are unavailable at this time.

Remarks by Rebecca Whisnant

It’s with respect and gratitude that we bid goodbye to John Inglis, who among his many contributions, served as our department chair from 2008 to 2016, and departed that role as widely beloved as he had entered it.

John arrived at UD in 1993 after earning his PhD at the University of Kentucky. He became full professor in 2006. He is an internationally known expert in medieval philosophy and theology. He has authored several books in the field, including On Medieval Philosophy, On Aquinas, and Spheres of Philosophical Inquiry and the Historiography of Medieval Philosophy. His edited or co-edited volumes include Thomas Aquinas, the Blackwell History of Medieval Philosophy, and Medieval Philosophy and the Classical Tradition in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. His numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters include “The Philosophical Implications of Aquinas’s Replication of the Acquired Moral Virtues,” “Towards a Balanced Historiography of Medieval Philosophy” and “Philosophy in a Religious Age.”

In addition to his scholarly accomplishments, John is a beloved teacher and longtime contributor to the Core program as well as to the graduate program in Religious Studies. As several colleagues mentioned, he is known for going out of his way to reach students. One recalls “students from Core telling me how they loved philosophy from the moment they watched John Inglis get so worked up during a lecture that he threw a shoe across the room.” Another remembers John making pedagogical points by, on one occasion, climbing onto a window ledge from his second floor humanities classroom, and on another occasion eating chalk!

As I mentioned, John served as department chair for eight years until I took over the role in 2016. He led us with his characteristic humility, good sense and good humor, as well as with an unfailing dedication to promoting the importance of philosophical study in the UD curriculum. For instance, when the Common Academic Program was first proposed, it did not include the requirement for Advanced Philosophy. John was dogged and determined in his ultimately successful efforts to get that requirement included, and both our department and all UD students are the better for it. What I most remember about John as chair is that he always said yes to things I asked him for - a most welcome quality in a department chair. He was unfailingly supportive and encouraging to all of us; as one colleague recalls, “His sincere compliments helped me to take risks and to believe that I could make changes for the better.” Another remembers that “While the other members of the team that interviewed me put on their serious, interviewing faces, John was exuberant, practically bouncing out of his seat. He had me convinced that UD is a welcoming place: a place where I could thrive. And he did everything to make sure of that once I arrived.”

Speaking of exuberance, one faculty member says that “One of my first impressions of John is his laugh. You can hear it down the hall, and you know there's only one guy it can be. It's genuine every single time. It's a shame we're losing John while a pandemic is on, because in his last year we didn't have that laughter in the halls.”

I’ll give the last word to yet another colleague, who calls John “noble in many ways: as a person, as an intellectual, as a colleague and as a leader. I have learned from him that one can be important but modest, profound but simple, and independent but relevant. There have been a few people in my life whose acquaintance has given me hope that human existence is not absurd; John is one of them.”

We will miss John enormously, and we wish him all good things in his retirement.

Remarks by Rebecca Whisnant

It’s with both pride and regret that we bid farewell to a revered colleague and undoubtedly our department’s most prolific scholar, Messay Kebede.

Messay came to UD in 1998, after earning his PhD at the University of Grenoble and then teaching for a number of years at Addis Ababa University, where he also served as department chair for over a decade. He came to the US as a political refugee and it took some time to arrange for his family to leave Ethiopia and join him here. I’m told that on his job tour of campus, Messay brightened up upon seeing that the Marian Library has a copy of the critical edition of almost 100 volumes of ancient Ethiopian texts. He was quick to note that Italy stole the originals and should return them.

He has published six single-authored books, including his most recent monograph, Bergson’s Philosophy of Self-Overcoming. Earlier books include Ideology and Elite Conflicts: Autopsy of the Ethiopian Revolution; Africa’s Quest for a Philosophy of Decolonization; and Meaning and Development.

Messay has also published no fewer than 43 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, in both English and French, just a few of whose titles indicate the impressive range of his knowledge and expertise: “From Otherness to Universal Humanism: Negritude’s Idea of Race,” “The Ethiopian Conception of Time and Modernization,” “Action and Forgetting: Bergson’s Theory of Memory,” and most recently, “The Nature and Challenges of Ethnicity: The Case of Ethiopia.”

Given this rate and range of scholarly production, it’s not surprising that Messay won both the Alumni Award in Scholarship in 2006 and the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Outstanding Scholarship in 2009.

In addition to his strictly scholarly work, Messay is a longtime frequent contributor to various popular websites and news publications, many in Ethiopia, demonstrating both his stature as a public intellectual and his continuing knowledge of and commitment to his home country. These more popular pieces—both erudite and broadly accessible, and widely read in Ethiopia—discuss political and cultural issues, mostly related to Ethiopia, but also to Africa more broadly and to US foreign policy.

As a teacher, Messay has contributed greatly to the range and diversity of our department’s curriculum, regularly teaching such courses as Marxist Philosophy, African Philosophy and Political Philosophy, as well as Culture, Modernization, and Multiple Modernities. One colleague reports that when she followed him teaching in the same classroom, “his blackboard was always covered in chalk, with students remaining behind with questions.” Messay worked tirelessly with our students on critical thinking as well as on expanding and complicating their worldviews.

Another colleague shares that when she interviewed for her position, “Messay was part of the group who took me to dinner at an Indian restaurant and Messay ordered his at a heat level 12 on a scale of 1-10! Then, he added even more of the hot chili when it came out! . . . The other memorable part of meeting Messay was that he asked me if I had read Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks, which I had not. But, once I did, it transformed the way I approached intro to philosophy and made sure that I was attentive to non-western philosophical traditions.”

A third colleague writes, “I feel so lucky to have met a great philosopher like Messay in my lifetime. Someone who has dedicated his life to both theoretical and practical wisdom. He is a perfect role model for those who strive to be a thinker and a teacher all at the same time.”

I know that a scholar like Messay will not slow down in retirement; rather it will give him the chance to focus even more devotedly on his research. In addition, the government of Ethiopia is negotiating with him at present, hoping that he will return and take on a leadership role. We wish him all the best, and we will miss him.

Remarks by Wiebke Diestelkamp

Joe Mashburn has served the University of Dayton for 40 years, having joined UD in 1981 after earning a PhD in Topology from the University of California – Riverside. 

Joe has had a distinguished career. He published in some of the best topology journals in the country. He is the sole author of most of his publications – a rarity in mathematics where collaborations are the norm.

Joe is an excellent teaching colleague with a broad teaching agenda. He has taught 27 different courses, ranging from a remedial course in algebra to every one of the 8 calculus classes we offer, to upper-level electives like topology and set theory and a graduate course in differential equations. He is willing to teach wherever he is needed, even if that means a less-than-desirable teaching schedule. As the one responsible for building the mathematics composite, I can tell you that this is very much appreciated.

Joe has served the university in many different ways. He was department chair for eight years. During his tenure, we created a minor in actuarial sciences, developed several new undergraduate and graduate courses and shepherded eight CAP courses through the approval process. Joe oversaw a major revision of our tenure and promotion document, and the resulting policy is still in effect today. The department grew in size with the university while Joe was chair: we added three new tenure lines and two lecturer lines. 

Throughout his long career at UD, Joe has served our students, the department, the college and the university in a variety of ways. He served on various iterations of the department executive, curriculum and vision committees, the tenure committee, the promotion committee and the lecturer promotion committee, as well as more than 10 search committees. He was the academic advisor for numerous students, both math majors and discover science students.

Beyond the department, Joe served on the dean’s executive council, the science center steering committee, the college lecturer promotion committee, the Research Council, the academic senate and CAP-C, to name a few. Joe has also been a long-time tutor for the Study Tables program of what is now the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center (MEEC). For his service, he was honored with a proclamation expressing appreciation and gratitude for his consistent dedication to the program, modeling positive interactions between students and faculty and encouraging students to cultivate meaningful relationships with faculty. 

Joe is not one to tout his own accomplishments or service, but he has had a great impact on our students, the mathematics department and the university.

On a personal note, Joe was the chair of the search committee that hired me and a member of my tenure subcommittee, providing guidance throughout my pre-tenure years. He was my immediate predecessor as department chair, and he has been willing to provide input whenever I sought his advice on a matter related to my chair responsibilities. I value his council greatly.

I know I speak for my colleagues when I say that we will greatly miss his quiet leadership and his selfless service.

Remarks by Jana Bennett

Dr. Portier earned an MA in theology from Washington Theological Union in 1972 and a PhD from St Michael's College at the University of Toronto in 1980. He taught at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg MD from 1979 to 2003, before joining UD in 2003 at the University of Dayton as the Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology.

I first met Dr Portier in 2003 as a hapless graduate student at Duke University. He came to Duke to give a seminar on what would eventually become one of his most universally-known and cited papers, “Here Come the Evangelical Catholics.” This was a paper that, among other things, characterized Duke students - and it was notable that he didn’t just write about a new generation but came and walked among us. I remained in correspondence with him, and could today probably could fault him for getting my job at UD. But of course I had no idea at the time that one day, I would be the department chairperson offering these remarks.

I start with this anecdote to underscore that when I think of Dr. Portier, I think here is a man whose entire life is relationships. And that fact is crucial for understanding his significance in the field of theology and in our own department, most especially our doctoral program.

Dr. Portier’s theological method highlights his intense focus on relationships, which brings to life not only intellectual debates but the woundedness and upheaval of the people caught up in these debates. I think of his well-reviewed book Divided Friends, where he writes about the Christian theology of the communion of saints. Christians say we “believe in the communion of the saints” - that is, the belief that death does not end our communion and fellowship with other people in the Church; on the contrary Christians remain in relationship to those who have gone before. That theological point underscores how he sees his work as historical theologian, quote: “to attempt to bring the dead to life.” In the case of the book Divided Friends, he brought to life Modernists and the Modernist controversy in ways that demonstrate: he knows John Slattery and Denis O’Connell, though many of them were long gone before he started studying them. More than that, he brings this communion of saints to us today, not only by writing about them, but also by sharing with us today how they continue to be part of conversations.

His is a deeply contextual theology that “locates the work of theology in history and culture with attention to the United States.” Located theology is a key marker of what it means to study theology at the University of Dayton. Dr. Portier gives us multiple examples of contextual theologies with his three additional books, four edited books, 36 peer reviewed articles, 17 book chapters, 63 book reviews, 30 invited lectures, six named lectures and five keynote addresses. He has truly infused the field of theology with contextual theology.

But Dr. Portier also meets his students and colleagues in our own contexts. COVID or not, he can always be counted on for good conversation - from the most mundane life advice to the most academically astute point about a recent book. His relationships with graduate students have been crucial for the development and building up of our doctoral program: he has directed 19 doctoral dissertations to completion, with another two on the way, in addition to directing seven MA theses, and an undergraduate honors thesis. His students hold a number of successful appointments in academic and beyond, and he has been honored by his array of students with a festschrift and other mentions. He was president of one of our professional organizations, the College Theology Society from 2014 to 2017 and the faculty representative for the Lilly Program for doctoral students. Our doctoral program is known in our field, our students are hired, in part because of the way Dr. Portier has extended his hand in friendship time and time again.

So again, I say: here is a man whose entire life is relationships. Our lives here at UD have been greatly enriched by being in relationship with him. I conclude with a song he often names from Crosby Stills and Nash: A new day, a new way, I knew, I should see it along Go your way, I'll go mine, And carry on.

So we’ll be carrying on here - in the love of God, and trusting that all the relationships Dr. Portier has cultivated so painstakingly over the years will remain even as he will now be Professor Emeritus of the Department of Religious Studies, and even though we will not have the immense pleasure of stopping by his office just to say hey. With good will and Godspeed, we wish you all our best.

Remarks by Shuang-Ye Wu

It is my honor and pleasure to say a few words about my colleague and friend Dr. Mike Sandy.

Dr. Michael Reginald Sandy arrived at Dayton International Airport on the day after Thanksgiving in 1986 to start at UD the following January. Life would never be the same.

Mike attended Beverley School, a State school in London during the 1970s. Of the graduating class, six continued to university. He attended Queen Mary College at the University of London for his geological training followed by a post-doc at the University of Aberdeen.

His first UD encounter was a chance meeting with a UD field trip in 1985 on an isolated beach along the scenic Dorset coast of England. As Mike told me: “I proceeded to explain the local geology but sat most of the time - as earlier that morning the seat of my pants had split!”

When he started at the University of Dayton a bit over a year later, he joined a geology department with two full-time faculty, Chuck Ritter and George Springer. He was the first foreign national faculty member in the department. During the next 33 years and a semester (or exactly 1/3 of a century), he pursued his passion to share geological knowledge with students, teachers, and the public, in addition to “living his dream” of being a paleontologist. No, not dinosaurs, but marine invertebrates that are typically less than one inch in diameter. When people ask, “What’s the most exciting fossil you ever found?” and it turns out to be a brachiopod, they often end up wishing they hadn’t asked. Just in case you are wondering what the heck is a brachiopod, here is some show and tell!

During this time, Mike served as Chair of the Department of Geology for eight years and subsequently developed both an aversion to campus meetings and a weakness for gourmet cookies that drew him to those meetings. (Can you even imagine such decadent days!) He published 60+ articles in leading journals, book chapters and books, and 80+ abstracts presented at national and international meetings. He was the recipient of both the College and University awards for outstanding scholarship. He has also mentored many students and junior faculty over the years. I still remember when I first got here, he took me on campus tours and field trips to show me local geology, and we were happily throwing acid on the Indiana limestone that makes up the walls of the Kennedy Union. With his outstanding achievement in scholarship, teaching and service, Mike has led a truly rich and impactful academic career. Congratulations, Mike!

Finally, Mike would like me to pass some words of appreciation. He is particularly grateful to his parents, who did not dissuade him from his interest in the natural world. His first wife Zena accompanied him on the transatlantic voyage to Ohio and supported him on his path to Full Professor at the age of 39. On this day, the “final promotion,” he wishes to send his love, kisses and hugs to his two daughters in the United States, Heather and Jillian, to his wife Yuliana and youngest daughter Marie with him in Bulgaria, and to friends and colleagues in Geology and Environmental Geosciences at UD and beyond. Last but not least, a very special mention for Chuck Ritter - wishing you a “Happy 90th Birthday” - tomorrow. God Bless You!

Thank you, Mike, for your contributions to our department and the university. We will miss you.

Sam Wallace, Department of Communication, was promoted to Professor Emeritus in 2021.

Remarks by Joe Valenzano are unavailable at this time.

P. Kelly Williams, Department of Biology, was promoted to Professor Emeritus in 2021.

Remarks by Karolyn Hansen are unavailable at this time.


College of Arts and Sciences

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