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Three Juniata Faculty Receive Teaching Awards

(Posted May 5, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. --Three Juniata College faculty members were honored Tuesday, April 29 with distinguished teaching awards during the college's Spring Awards Convocation in Oller Hall. Honored for their work were Henry Thurston-Griswold, professor of Spanish; Donna Weimer, Thornbury Professor of Communication; and James Borgardt, assistant professor of physics.

Thurston-Griswold, a Huntingdon, Pa. resident, was honored with the 36th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching, while Weimer, a State College, Pa. resident, was named the recipient of the 14th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service. Borgardt, a Huntingdon, Pa. resident, 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; 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 Alexander McBride, professor of art (2002); Klaus Kipphan, Charles A. Dana Professor of History (2001); and Patricia Weaver, professor of economics and business administration (2000). The first academic service award was presented in 1989 to Mary Ruth Linton, professor emerita of music. Last year's recipient was Tom Fisher, professor of chemistry. The recipient of the 2001 Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance was Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre.

In introducing Professor Thurston-Griswold, Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple noted, ?He has consistently honed and refined his teaching techniques, always searching for ways to make his expertise relevant and interesting for his students. He remains a driving force in Juniata?s international programs and has led work and study trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and El Salvador.?

Thurston-Griswold started his career at Juniata in 1992. He came to the college as an assistant professor from Old Dominion University, where he taught from 1990 to 1992. He received his undergraduate education at the State University of New York -- Cortland, graduating in 1981. He went on to earn his master?s degree in 1983 and doctorate in 1989, both from the University of Texas at Austin.

Thurston-Griswold continues to publish papers and essays, particularly in his area of specialization, Spanish and Spanish-American literature. He has published articles in the Hispanic Review, Cincinnati Romance Review, Romance Quarterly and the Spanish publication Dactylus.

He is a member of the Modern Languages Association, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portugese, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. He was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and was named full professor in 2000. He serves as chairman of the Department of World Languages and Cultures and has taught courses in contemporary Spanish-American narratives and myth and magic realism. He is co-adviser of the Spanish Club.

This year, Thurston-Griswold led a group of students on a service-learning trip to Guatemala and led 16 students and staff on a trip to Guatemala in 2002. A lifelong advocate for peace, he has consistently worked to educate the public on social and economic justice in developing Latin American nations. He has sponsored or organized a variety of lectures and educational programs examining these issues for the Juniata and Huntingdon communities.?

The 2003 recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service, Donna Weimer, came to Juniata in 1990. She earned a bachelor?s degree, master?s degree and doctorate from Penn State University. Before coming to Juniata, she worked as an instructor at Penn State and as a communications consultant.

She was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and to full professor in 2000. In 2001, she was named the Col. Sedgley and Elizabeth Bailey Thornbury Professor of Communication.

She is chair of the Department of English, Communication and Theatre Arts and serves as a member of the Information Technology faculty. She serves as faculty adviser for the Juniata yearboook Alfarata, for WKVR, the college radio station, for the communications club SPEAK, and organizes the Soapbox Speeches. Weimer is celebrated as the guiding light of the Bailey Oratorical Contest, overseeing that Juniata institution for more than a decade.

Weimer also is active in professional and community organizations, serving on the executive council for the Speech Communication Association of Pennsylvania and on the board of representatives of WPSX-WPSU, the area?s public television and radio stations.

She teaches a wide variety of communications courses, including ?The Art of Public Speaking? and ?indiv@metaverse.com,? which examines the impact of technology on our culture. Her teaching and hard work have been recognized previously with the Lindback Teaching Award in 1993 and an award as Juniata?s Woman of the Year in 1994.

This year?s recipient of the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance, Jim Borgardt, came to Juniata in 1998 as an assistant professor of physics.

Borgardt came to Juniata after working as a faculty lecturer, postdoctoral researcher and graduate assistant at the University of Arizona from 1994 to 1997. His bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics is from the University of California-Santa Barbara. Borgardt has started several science-related community outreach programs by such as ?Mall Physics? and ?Physics Phun Night.?

Borgardt received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Arizona in 1994. He has published articles in a variety of journals, primarily in the area of ion beam analysis. He is the sponsor for the society of physics students and the ultimate Frisbee club.

According to President Kepple, ?The boundless enthusiasm of Jim Borgardt allows him to put extra effort into any project, whether it is sponsoring the Physics club or hitting me on the chest with a sledgehammer at Physics Phun Night. These qualities 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.