Faculty Recognized At Dinner

UMass President William Bulger, who survived an attack to his position by Governor Mitt Romney, at the Faculty Appreciation Dinner. - Photo by Harry Brett

UMass President William Bulger, who survived an attack to his position by Governor Mitt Romney, at the Faculty Appreciation Dinner. – Photo by Harry Brett

Gin Dumcius

Over seventy faculty members were celebrated at a Faculty Appreciation Dinner, where a host of luminaries and students of the community came to praise and laud them for their work.

“I can say personally that there are many joys to being a chancellor, a provost, a dean, a director,” said Chancellor Jo Ann Gora. “But they do not compare with the joys of being a professor,” she said, going on to call those there “caring mentors” and “inspiring advisors.”

UMass President William Bulger, who had hours before pulled back on the prospect of dorms for UMass Boston by calling state Senator Jack Hart, was also on hand to commend the professors.

“The heart and the soul of the university is clearly the faculty, the professors,” said Bulger. “They toil in the vineyard, with the highest of motives… that of giving to you every opportunity for you to learn.”

Professors David Hunt and Rusty Simonds were both recipients of the chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award for 2002-2003.

Provost Paul Fonteyn called Hunt a “leader in using assessment data in teaching the history department,” and Simonds a “pioneer of instructional technology,” and who, “after more than thirty years of teaching, is as committed as he was in the 70s.”

Hunt, who began work at UMB in 1969 along with Simonds, told of how he discovered the “faculty ethos” of joy in teaching to students. He also brought up how candidates for professorships at UMass Boston would come, and by the end of the day, “all [would] fall under the spell” of the university.

Simonds drew frequent laughter from the audience, with his telling of the different times the clocks display on the walls, indicative of how UMB operates in different time zones with its non-traditional students, who sometimes spend as many as five to six years in school because of work, children and other reasons.

Faculty members were nominated by the students, and a program of the night’s events showcased testimonials of how each professor touched the life of a student.

“Professor Woojin Paik has been one professor who not only encouraged me to work hard, but instilled into his students that everything is possible,” wrote Omar Bukhari, the student trustee-elect. “Not only have his classes given me much practical knowledge, they have been helpful in giving me a deeper understanding of my field of study.”

Also among those nominated were Director of Student Life Joyce Morgan, University Chaplain Maggie Cahill, and Professor Anthony Van Der Meer, whose scuffle with an Army recruiter and subsequent arrest by campus police rocked the community.

The night ended gracefully by all accounts, but not without some antics by English Professor Duncan Nelson, who read an “Ode to Faculty” from atop a chair, and at one point even got President Bulger to join him.

“Although individual participation was down a bit from last year, the feedback from both students that attended and faculty that attended was very positive,” said Patricia MacNeil, administrative assistant to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, which put the event together. “Faculty members seemed very humbled by the students’ nominations.”