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UMaine College Honors Outstanding Faculty, Students

Contact: Kathryn Olmstead, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 581-3844

Outstanding faculty and students in the University of Maine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received awards for their accomplishments from Dean Jeff Hecker at an April 16 reception on campus. The annual ceremony, co-sponsored by the University Credit Union, also recognized faculty members recently promoted to associate professor with tenure, and graduating seniors earning top honors in their academic departments.

Faculty awards recognize professors accomplished in all three areas of the university’s mission – teaching, research and public service – who demonstrate exceptional achievement in one of the three. Student awards are presented to a graduating senior, teaching assistant, doctoral student, master’s student and international undergraduate for academic excellence and service.

Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, associate professor of German, received the faculty award for outstanding teaching and advising. A nationally recognized teacher and scholar, Hoecherl-Alden was cited for her leadership in strengthening the German curriculum, her acclaim among students as a deeply committed teacher and adviser, and her ability to link teaching and research. She also excels as a teacher of teachers and is co-author of a best-selling German textbook.

Deborah C. Rogers, professor of English, was honored with the award for research and creative achievement. The author of four scholarly books, Rogers has earned an international reputation in the fields of eighteenth century studies and twentieth century popular culture. Best known for her work on Ann Radcliffe, a major gothic novelist of the 1790s, Rogers’ latest book links 18th century gothic novels to popular 21st century forms that deal with issues of motherhood.

Neil Comins, professor of physics and astronomy, received the service and outreach award. A popular speaker and author of widely read books, textbooks and articles, Comins was recognized for bringing his scientific expertise in astronomy to the public in the US and abroad. He developed a board game, Stellar 28, to help teach the constellations, and is a frequent reviewer and radio commentator discussing astrophysical events. His book What if the Moon Didn’t Exist? was the theme for a pavilion at the 2005 World Expoin Japan and the basis for a play performed in Nagasaki.

Havah Gershman-Tewksbury of Presque Isle, Maine, was named the 2009 outstanding graduating senior in the college. With an exceptional academic record in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, she was cited for an independent study of dementia patients and for extensive volunteerism on campus. A member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa honorary societies, shewill begin graduate study at UMaine in the fall.

Three graduate students were honored for their achievements. Robert Hodges was named the outstanding teaching assistant in the college for his work as a graduate assistant in the history department. Hodges earned high praise from bothf aculty and students for his effectiveness as a guest lecturer, grader and leader of weekly discussion sections, while maintaining an excellent record as a graduate student.

Abigail Chandler, also in the history department, was recognized as the outstanding doctoral student in the college, and Mark Tabone of the English department received the outstanding master’s student award. Chandler was lauded for her ambitious comparative analysis that led to a dissertation on sexual crime and New England law, 1636-1718, and for her success as a teacher in a wide range of courses. With a master’s degree in public history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she has museum experience that enriches her classroom work.

Tabone earned the respect of peers, professors and students in the English department for his performance as a graduate student and teaching assistant. With a background in science and six years leading in an Upward Bound program, Tabone applied meticulous research skills and “profound sympathy” for students to his work both as scholar and teacher. His abilities and dedication earned him highest praise on student evaluations and from faculty supervisors.

Dahan Kim, an undergraduate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was named the outstanding international student in the college. With a double major in physics and biology, he as maintained an exceptional grade point average earning him the Ralph Maynard Holmes Scholarship as well as top scholar and presidential awards from UMaine. He was praised for his work on service projects, including the installation of a radio telescope on the roof of Bennett Hall for astronomy experiments, and for his work as a tutor for students in introductory classes.

Dean Hecker also introduced the professors who were promoted from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure, after detailing the rigorous tenure process.The newly promoted faculty members are Sundarshan Chawathe, computer science; Alan Smith, communication sciences and disorders; Samuel Hess, physics and astronomy; Mark Brewer, political science and Amy Blackstone, sociology.

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