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Three Juniata Professors Honored by Awards for Teaching, Service

(Posted May 11, 2009)

From left, James Lakso, provost; Norm Siems, professor of physics and winner of Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service; Jim Roney, professor of Russian and winner of Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching; Jim Tuten, associate professor of history and winner of Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching; and Tom Kepple, president.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Three Juniata College faculty members were honored Tuesday, May 5, with distinguished teaching and service awards during the College's Spring Awards Convocation in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. Honored for their work were Norm Siems, Woolford Professor of Physics; James Roney, I.H. Brumbaugh Professor of Russian; and James Tuten, associate professor of history.

The convocation was held in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. The convocation address was given by Loren Rhodes, Dale Chair in information technology.

Siems, a Huntingdon resident, was honored with the 20th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service, and Roney, a Huntingdon resident, was named the 42nd recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching. Tuten, a Huntingdon resident, received the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching (by a faculty member with fewer than six years of service).

Nominations for the awards are received from students, faculty, administrative personnel, alumni and trustees. The college president, the provost, the student government president, and the three most recent recipients of the award make the final selections.

The last three Distinguished Teaching Award recipients were Loren Rhodes, Dale Chair in information technology (2008); David Hsiung, Knox Professor of History (2007); and Judy Katz, associate professor of English (2006). The first academic service award was presented in 1989 to the late Mary Ruth Linton, professor emerita of music. Last year's recipient was Patricia Weaver, Dana Professor of Accounting. The recipient of the 2008 Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance was Mark McKellop, associate professor of psychology.

"Norm Siems is always at the head of the line as the faculty walks in at convocation and commencement, which is fitting because Norm is always in the lead as a teacher and in his service to the College and his colleagues."
Thomas Kepple, Juniata president

As he introduced Siems, Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple said, "Norm Siems is always at the head of the line as the faculty walks in at convocation and commencement, which is fitting because Norm is always in the lead as a teacher and in his service to the College and his colleagues. We see him carrying the mace on the way in, but he doesn't use a big stick to make his points in class or in committees. He defines the word 'collegial.'"

Siems is the department head for physics and serves as the faculty marshal. He is responsible for Juniata's observatory and continues to teach astronomy, one of the most popular courses on campus. He has served as a consultant for the television show "Inside Space," on the USA Network

He received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984 and the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1994.

He came to Juniata in 1980 as a physics professor from Quincy College, where he was department chair. He chaired Juniata's Physics Department from 1984 until 1987 and has returned to serve as department chair since 1998.

He was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and to full professor in 1987. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 1966 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After graduation, he served four years in the U.S. Navy as an instructor of math, physics, and reactor physics at the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School, simultaneously studying as a graduate student at The Johns Hopkins University. He completed has master's degree in physics in 1970. He went on to earn a doctorate in nuclear science in 1976 at Cornell University.

He was promoted to assistant professor in 1983 and became associate professor in 1988. He was promoted to full professor in 1993.

At Juniata he helped develop the interdisciplinary general education course, "From Decadence to Disaster." He is a member of the American Nuclear Science Teachers' Association, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Throughout his teaching career, he has received numerous faculty development grants including grants to travel to the then Soviet Union for a five-week Fulbright-Hayes seminar, to attend a two-week Summer Academy for the Advancement of College Teaching, and to participate in astronomy workshops at the University of Colorado and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The 2009 recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching, James Roney, joined the Juniata faculty in 1988. He has been previously recognized for classroom excellence, receiving the Lindback Award Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1993. He was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to full professor in 1995.

Roney was instrumental in establishing a Juniata study-abroad program at the Volgograd State Pedagogical University in Volgograd, Russia, and in 1990 led a contingent of Juniata faculty to the Soviet Union for the five-week Fulbright-Hayes seminar "Understanding the Soviet Union." At Juniata, he recently led a faculty seminar on using film in teaching International Studies funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and a project on proficiency-based language instruction funded by the American Council on Education. He conducts annual sessions at Juniata's institutue on teaching language and culture for public school teachers.

Roney earned a bachelor's degree in Russian language and literature in 1973 from Dartmouth College. He earned a master's degree in Slavic languages and literature in 1975, followed by a doctoral degree in Slavic literature in 1981, both from Ohio State University. He has studied abroad in Russia, Poland, and Germany and taught courses at Volgograd State Pedagogical University. Before coming to Juniata, Roney was an assistant professor of Russian at the University of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1988. He also taught at the University of Kentucky and Ohio State University.

There is a close connection between Roney's teaching and research. He has been selected to participate in faculty seminars on Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian philosopher of culture, on the critical history of the Frankfurt School, and on Homer's "Iliad."

As an active participant in Juniata's core curriculum, he has developed courses on Russian Orthodoxy, film, Russian history, postmodernism in culture and science, and numerous Polish and Russian authors. He teaches a popular course on works of art as keys to the relationship between ideas and power in the modern world.

Roney has presented nearly two dozen papers at professional conferences, workshops, and symposiums. He has published reviews and articles on teaching and Slavic literature, including a recent article on the grotesque in a short story by Nikolai Gogol. His current interests are Romantic cultural philosophy, the role of core texts in cultural history and learning, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning with a emphasis on student reading.

As a scholar of Central and Eastern European culture, Roney is fluent in Russian and Polish, can read and understand German, and has used Latin and Ancient Greek in his research.

"Jim Roney is one of our most passionate professors and he has been a driving force in establishing partnerships for unique study-abroad experiences in Russia," Kepple said.

James Tuten, the recipient of the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching, joined the Juniata faculty in 1998 from Emory University. He earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts and United States history in 1990 from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and went on to earn a master's degree in history in 1992 from Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He earned a doctoral degree in history in 2003 from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

He is currently working on a book about rice culture in the South from the Civil War to the 1920s. He has published articles on madeira wine, most notably in the journal "American Nineteenth Century History" and the cooking journal "Slow."

He served as an instructor in history at Juniata from 1998 to 2000 and was assistant provost from 2001 to 2006. As assistant provost, he oversaw the college's speakers program and organized a reunion of Juniata's 1965 students who traveled to Selma, Ala. to demonstrate for civil rights. He also was a teaching associate at Emory from 1994 to 1996. He teaches courses on the New South, Contemporary America, and Civil War and Reconstruction.

He chairs Juniata's Student Research and Fellowship Committee. He also shares duties as faculty adviser for Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society and the Omicron Delta Kappa Academic Honor Society at Juniata. He is founder and moderator of H-SC, an H-Net discussion list on South Carolina history and culture.

The Beachley Awards were established by the late Donovan R. Beachley Sr., a 1921 graduate of Juniata; the late Mrs. Grace Rinehart Beachley; Donovan R. Beachley, Jr., a member of the class of 1947 and an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees; and Mrs. Mary Ellen Beachley, all of Hagerstown, Md. Additional support for the awards is provided by Donovan R. Beachley Jr. and David C. Beachley, a 1977 Juniata graduate and current president of the Beachley Furniture Co. of Hagerstown, Md.

The Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching provides a $5,000 stipend to a professor who contributes to the development of the nominee's department and the college as a whole. Teaching effectiveness, scholarly activities, service beyond the campus, and length of service to the college also play roles in the process.

The Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service also provides a $5,000 stipend. The award is made to a professor showing outstanding service to students through advising, counseling or development of student-related activities, and outstanding service to the college through curriculum or department development, committee activities, or collegewide activities.


The Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching recognizes excellence in teaching among faculty members who have been at Juniata College for fewer than six years. The recipient receives with the honor a $2,500 stipend. The award is sponsored by Henry H. Gibbel, chairman and chief executive officer of Lititz Mutual Insurance Company, and his wife, Joan.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.