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Juniata Faculty Receive Distinguished Teaching Awards

(Posted May 6, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. --Three Juniata College faculty members were honored Tuesday, April 30 with distinguished teaching awards during the college's Spring Awards Convocation in Oller Hall. Honored for their work at the college were Alexander McBride, professor of art; Tom Fisher, professor of chemistry; and Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre.

McBride was honored with the 35th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching, while Fisher was named the recipient of the 13th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service. Belser received the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching by a faculty member with fewer than six years of service.

The Beachley Awards were established by the late Donovan R. Beachley, Sr., a 1921 graduate of Juniata and an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees; 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, president and chief executive officer of Lititz Mutual Insurance Company and chairman of the Juniata College Board of Trustees, and his wife, Joan.

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 Klaus Kipphan, Charles A. Dana Professor of History (2001); Patricia Weaver, professor of economics and business administration (2000), and Janet Lewis, associate professor of philosophy (1999). The first academic service award was presented in 1989 to Mary Ruth Linton, professor emerita of music. Last year's recipient was I. David Reingold, professor of chemistry. The recipient of the 2001 Beachley Award (now known as the Gibbel Award) for Distinguished Performance was Belle Tuten, assistant professor of history.

In introducing Professor McBride, Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple noted, "This year's recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching started his career at Juniata in 1970. He received his undergraduate education at the noted art school, the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1962. He received his master of fine arts from Cornell University in 1964."

As an artist, McBride considers himself an abstract expressionist and his work is in the permanent collections of Pepsico Headquarters in Purchase, N.Y. and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, Calif. McBride also has taught at such institutions as the Rhode Island School of Design, Nathaniel Hawthorne College and Green Mountain College.

Throughout his career he has made it a point to continue to learn new techniques and technologies. He served as guest artist and lecturers at schools in China, Great Britain and Germany and toured Holland, Germany, Italy, France and England as part of a study grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has continued his education at New York's School of Visual Art and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. He also teaches the college's computer art and digital photography courses at Juniata.

McBride has had numerous one-person exhibitions and has been included in many group art exhibits, including shows at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the Three Rivers Art Festival, Penn State University main campus, Wilkes College and the Pamlemousse Gallery in Chicago.

McBride was promoted to associate professor in 1978 and was named full professor in 1986. He served as chairman of the art department from 1970 to 1986. He has taught courses in art history and the interdisciplinary courses Forging a Nation (a study of the American Revolution) and From Decadence to Disaster (a study of European intellectual history from 1880 to 1929).

"Great artists and great teachers are always changing their approach to their work -- often refusing to remain satisfied with the status quo," noted Dr. Kepple, "Sandy McBride has remained a fine artist and superb teacher by always searching for new techniques."

The year 2002 recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service, Tom Fisher, came to Juniata in 1976. He earned a doctoral degree from Iowa State University in 1971, and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Old Dominion University in 1964. Before coming to Juniata, Fisher worked as an assistant professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland from 1972 to 1976. He also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University from 1970 to 1972 and served as an adjunct professor there for one year in 1973.
He was promoted to associate professor in 1980 and to full professor in 1988.

Although he started as a biochemist, Fisher now concentrates on analytical chemistry and teaches Juniata students how to use the sophisticated scientific instruments used in chemical laboratories. Fisher's interest in instrumentation led him into a side career as an inventor. Fisher has used everyday materials to construct inexpensive versions of commercially sold scientific instruments. Some of his instruments are used in Juniata's science lab and he founded a company, Inexpensive Systems, to explore marketing his inventions.

He is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science He has published articles in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Journal of Chemical Education. His academic interests focus on the application of computers in analytical chemistry and environmental science. He is married to Juniata chemistry professor Ruth E. Reed,

This year's recipient of the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance, Andrew Belser, came to Juniata in 1997 as an assistant professor of theatre. He has worked extensively as a professional director both before and during his academic career. He has directed more than 30 theatre productions at professional, university and high school venues, including "The Member of the Wedding," "The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Bald Soprano," "Anything Goes," and "He Who Gets Slapped."

Before coming to the college, he worked as an instructor and adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech from 1996 to 1997. He earned a master's degree in theatre from Villanova University in 1985 and a master's degree in directing from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1995. He earned a bachelor's degree in communication arts and secondary education from Grove City College in 1982. He has extensively studied the dance form contact improvisation and has taken training in clowning and other theatrical arts.

According to President Kepple, "Andrew Belser has built a first-rate theatre program during his tenure at Juniata and the enthusiasm for his productions both from students and from our surrounding community make it plain that theatre is a vital part of Juniata's liberal arts education. His passion for teaching and for staging thoughtful, provocative and energizing theatre productions make him an outstanding candidate for this year's award."

More than 700 people attended the Spring Awards Convocation.

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