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Faculty Awards and Promotions

The University of Dayton College of Arts and Sciences celebrated outstanding scholarship in teaching, curricular innovation, creative activity and research-based community engagement April 7 at its annual College faculty recognition event.

The ceremony in the Sears Recital Hall of the Jesse Philips Humanities Center included the presentation of 2016 College Faculty Awards, recognition of promotion to emeritus status, and tenure and promotion announcements.

The event capped a whirlwind week on campus that included the installation of Eric F. Spina as the University’s 19th president, the Bro. Joseph W. Stander Symposium, Celebration of the Arts, and Horvath Annual Juried Student Exhibition.

“It has been just a banner week, and key to many of these events are the University faculty — and in many ways and in many instances the College faculty — who have shared their creativity, expertise and talents, sometimes in the foreground, often in the background,” said Jason Pierce, College dean. “So, it is fitting we conclude this remarkable week here at the University by recognizing our faculty award recipients and those faculty in the College who are being promoted to emeritus status upon their retirement.”

Bob Brecha, physics professor and research director for the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute, was honored for outstanding teaching.

Brecha’s hallmark contribution was his leadership in creating the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment minor in 2007, said Danielle Poe, associate dean for curriculum and academic outcomes. The minor broke new ground in interdisciplinary collaboration, bringing together coursework from the arts, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and professional schools.

“The SEE minor has successfully paved the way for environmental-themed summer study abroad, partnerships with the community for research, and has such strong student interest that the program currently has 90 declared minors,” Poe said.

Umesh Haritashya, associate professor of geology, was honored for outstanding scholarship. He is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of glacier hydrology and remote sensing, with grants totaling nearly $2 million, said Don Pair, associate dean for interdisciplinary research and experiential initiatives.

Haritashya’s work in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake to analyze satellite images of the landscape before and after the earthquake provided insight into the triggers of related landslide occurrences and was published in the prestigious journal, Science.

“This earthquake work has significant importance in terms of how science addresses significant and unanticipated humanitarian need,” Pair said.

Sr. Laura Leming, F.M.I., associate professor in the department of sociology, anthropology and social work, was honored for outstanding service.

Leming, who sits on the board of trustees for St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, was attending a board meeting. Sr. Nicole Trahan, F.M.I., accepted the award on her behalf.

Leming has served on countless University, College and department committees, and is past department chair. She also has contributed to curricular programs including Core, the honors program, Berry Scholars, Chaminade Scholars and the Faith and Social Transformation Integrated Learning-Living Community.

“Much of Sister Laura’s work focuses on advancing interreligious understanding and dialogue,” Pierce said. “In 2009, for example, she initiated and has led every year since the Candlelight Observance of Kristallnacht, a remembrance event that educates our campus on the atrocities of the Holocaust and fosters deeper interreligious understanding.”

Roy Flynn, department of communication lecturer, was honored for outstanding contribution by a full-time, non-tenure track faculty member.

Flynn’s course evaluations have been among the department’s highest and he is consistently named as one of its best instructors in senior exit interviews over the past 15 years, said Jon Hess, associate dean for faculty scholarship, internationalization and inclusive excellence.

Flynn, a six-time Emmy Award winner, serves as Flyer TV manager and Flyer Radio advisor. He brings his most advanced students to the annual Broadcast Education Association Career Fair and National Association of Broadcasters conventions.

“He also has been instrumental in helping create a signature experiential learning event the department has been developing in the last two years, which takes media students to tour facilities and meet industry leaders in Hollywood,” Hess said. “And, he has helped bring successful alumni to campus through his network of professional relationships.”

Panagiotis “Takis” Tsonis, a biology professor and prominent researcher who died in September 2016 at age 63, was honored among retiring faculty promoted to emeritus status.

Tsonis, who earned nearly $6 million in federal research grant funding over the course of his career, is the first University faculty member to receive the honor posthumously, said Mark Nielsen, biology department chair.

“This is unprecedented, having emeritus posthumously, but the department of biology, as well as the College and University, really felt this needed to be done,” Nielsen said. “His contributions to the University were simply enormous and needed to be recognized.”

Accepting the honor on Tsonis’ behalf was his wife and research colleague, Katia Del Rio-Tsonis, a biology professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His daughters, Isidora '01 and Sol '16, also attended the ceremony.

Faculty promoted to emeritus status:
  • Daniel Fouke, department of philosophy
  • Robert Jones, department of music
  • Ronald Katsuyama, department of psychology
  • R. Alan Kimbrough, department of English
  • Janis Krugh, department of global languages and cultures
  • Bro. M. Gary Marcinowski, department of art and design
  • Panagiotis Tsonis, department of biology
Faculty receiving tenure and promotion from assistant professor to associate professor:
  • Andy Chong, department of physics
  • Jennifer Haan, department of English
  • Michelle Hayford, theatre, dance and performance technology program
  • Jeanne Holcomb, department of sociology, anthropology and social work
  • Benjamin Kunz, department of psychology
  • Jamie Longazel, department of sociology, anthropology and social work
  • Erin O’Mara, department of psychology
  • Tobias Rush, department of music
  • Jusuf Salih, department of religious studies
  • Patrick Thomas, department of English
  • Ernesto Velasquez, department of philosophy
Faculty receiving promotion from associate professor to professor:
  • Richard Ghere, department of political science
  • Judith Huacuja, department of art and design
  • Leslie Picca, department of sociology, anthropology and social work
  • Rebecca Whisnant, department of philosophy

The event was followed by a reception in the Kennedy Union Torch Lounge.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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