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Public Affairs

Awards honor distinguished faculty

September 17, 2007

Photo of honorees and deansThe 2007 Opening Faculty Meeting featured the inaugural presentation of annual faculty awards to distinguished SF State professors. Three faculty members notable for their teaching, research and/or service were honored.

Michelle Wolf, professor of broadcast and electronic communication arts (BECA), received the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award. The $5,000 gift, sponsored by the Sarlo Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, honors outstanding Northern California professors and aims to elevate individual, public and institutional respect for teaching. George Sarlo, who developed the award with his wife Sejong Sarlo, a 1991 alumna of SF State, presented the award.

Wolf, who has taught at SF State for 24 years, said that she believes in continually evolving her methods of teaching. "I like to adapt to what students say rather than just what is taught," she said. "I consider myself to be a learner as much as a teacher."

"Michelle probably has the most outstanding teaching effectiveness evaluations in the BECA department if not in the entire college," said Ronald Compesi, dean of the College of Creative Arts. "She is somebody who embodies the model of teacher/scholar that San Francisco State University values so highly, and she really has this amazing ability to connect with her students."

Dennis Desjardin, professor of biology received the Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, a $4,000 gift sponsored by Academic Affairs. Referred to as "a rock star in the world of mushrooms" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Martha Mendoza, Desjardin directs the Harry D. Thiers Herbarium on campus, which contains one of the largest collections of fungi in North America.

"Students from distant countries come here to work with Professor Desjardin," said Sheldon Axler, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. "His research brings great honor to SF State."

Darlene Yee-Melichar, professor of gerontology received the Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Service, a $4,000 gift also sponsored by Academic Affairs. Yee-Melichar, the coordinator of Long-Term Care Administration and director of the Health, Mobility and Safety Laboratory, was also honored as a distinguished teacher by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education in March.

"She is a first-rate citizen of our college," said Don Taylor, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. "We can count on her to more than pull her weight on any issue that needs participation by senior faculty. She's one of those people who sees a need and volunteers her services."

Initiated by the Academic Senate in 2005, the Faculty Honors and Awards Committee was appointed by the Academic Senate and John Gemello, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, to promote, select and recognize SF State faculty with a distinguished track record of teaching, professional development and service. This year's committee chair, Abdiel Oñate, professor of history, said that the committee received 36 nominations for the awards from deans, department chairs, students and staff. The executive committee included Sacha Bunge, professor of psychology; Nancy Hayes, dean of the College of Business; Peter Palmer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Dorothy Tsuruta, professor and chair of Africana studies; Marilyn Verhey, dean of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development and Shawn Whalen, director of forensics.

--Student Writer Lisa Rau with Denize Springer


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Last modified September 17, 2007 by University Communications