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Juniata Faculty Receive Distinguished Teaching Awards

(Posted May 3, 2004)

From Left, Peter Goldstein, John Downey Benedict Professor of English, received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching; Grace Fala, professor of communication, received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Service; Jamie White, associate professor of physics, received the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching; and Juniata President Thomas Kepple presented the awards.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. --Three Juniata College faculty members were honored Tuesday, April 27 with distinguished teaching awards during the college's Spring Awards Convocation in Oller Hall. Honored for their work were Peter Goldstein, John Downey Benedict Professor of English; Grace Fala, professor of communication; and Jamie White, associate professor of physics.

Goldstein, a Huntingdon, Pa. resident, was honored with the 37th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching, while Fala, a Belleville, Pa. resident, was named the recipient of the 15th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service. White, 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 Henry Thurston-Griswold, professor of Spanish (2003); Alexander McBride, professor of art (2002); and Klaus Kipphan, Charles A. Dana Professor of History (2001). The first academic service award was presented in 1989 to Mary Ruth Linton, professor emerita of music. Last year's recipient was Donna Weimer, Thornbury Professor of Communication. The recipient of the 2003 Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance was James Borgardt, associate professor of physics.

In introducing Professor Goldstein, Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple noted, "Peter Goldstein represents the best in what a great teacher should be. He challenges students, but more importantly, he insists that his students challenge him. His exacting standards and creativity in choosing material for his courses exemplify the liberal arts tradition of education."

Goldstein came to Juniata in 1991 after earning a doctorate in English at the University of California at Los Angeles. A published poet, Goldstein received the Fred Weld Herman Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1988. He earned a law degree from the University of Southern California in 1979 and practiced law from 1979 to 1984. He earned a bachelor's degree in English and American literature and language from Harvard University in 1976. He was promoted to associate professor in 1996 and to full professor in 2001.

He teaches many different courses at Juniata, including Shakespeare, "British Literature 1600 to 1900," "19th Century British Literature," "Science Fiction," "Contemporary Poetry," "Poetry Writing" and "Shakespearean Drama." He is a member of the Modern Language Association, the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the Popular Culture Association. He has published sci-fi poetry in the journals Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares. He worked at Harvard's radio station as an undergraduate and through 2001, worked as Juniata's announcer at home football games.

"On his Juniata Web page, Peter has a list of Goldstein's Laws," Kepple adds. "One of them, 'Science is poetry and poetry is science,' perfectly sums up Juniata's educational philosophy."

The 2004 recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service, Grace Fala, came to Juniata in 1992. She earned a bachelor's degree, in education and a master's degree in philosophy from West Chester University. She went on to earn a doctorate from Penn State University.

Before coming to Juniata, she taught communication courses at Penn State's Delaware County campus, Villanova University and West Chester University. She started her teaching career as an elementary school music teacher.

She received the 1998 Beachley Award for Distinguished Service for faculty with less than six years service (now known as the Gibbel Award). She received Juniata's Woman of the Year award in 1997. She also received the Kathryn DeBoer Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992 from Penn State. She was promoted to associate professor in 1998 and to full professor in 2003.

Fala is involved in a variety of student activities, including the college's annual Soap Box Speeches, SPEAK (the Communication Club), the Great Orations Program and the All Ways of Loving (AWOL) Club. She teaches such courses as "Art of Public Speaking," "Intercultural Communication," "Health Communication," "Listening," and "Storytelling." She also presents workshops on communication to local, regional and state agencies.

She is an active member of the Speech Communication Association of Pennsylvania and serves on its executive board. She has presented research papers at conferences of the International Communication Association, the Eastern Communication Association and the National Communication Association. She has written a novella and is working on a book on listening, creativity and diversity.

This year's recipient of the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Performance, Jamie White, joined the Juniata faculty in 1998 from the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he was assistant professor of physics.

In addition to a full teaching load, White maintains an active research career. His work has been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, Surface Science, the American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher and the Journal of the Acoustics Society of America. His academic and research interests include laser physics, surface physics, the physics of ice and musical acoustics. He also is interested in high school science and physics education.

White's enthusiasm for secondary science education found an outlet in his work for the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad, where he has worked as events coordinator since 1999. He also helped coordinate and organize the upcoming 2004 National Science Olympiad to be held at Juniata May 21 and 22. He also organizes several faculty family-oriented events every year.

White started his education career as a high school physics teacher at the Haverford School in Haverford, Pa. in 1985 and returned to college in 1989 to earn a master's degree in 1993 and a doctorate in physics in 1994, both from Penn State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Carleton College in 1985.

He began his university teaching career in 1994 as assistant professor of physics at Baldwin-Wallace College. In 1997, he accepted a position as assistant professor of physics at SUNY-Potsdam. At Juniata and elsewhere he has taught courses in general physics, acoustics, optics and laser physics.

According to President Kepple, "Jamie White's enthusiasm for teaching extends not only to our fortunate students here at Juniata but to many other students across Pennsylvania who have encountered Jamie at one of our Science Olympiad events. His dedication to maintaining his own research and inspiring research careers for our students is a standard we should aspire to."

More than 700 people attended the Spring Awards Convocation.

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