Outstanding Faculty Honored at 2009 Commencement

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

by Nicole Katze

During the 2009 Commencement exercises on May 16, three members of the Saint Joseph’s University faculty were recognized for their personal commitment to their fields and the Saint Joseph’s community.

David Sorensen, D.Phil., professor of English and associate director of the Honors Program, received the Tengelmann Award for Distinguished Teaching and Research, an award given annually to one faculty member.

Sorensen has devoted much of his career to researching the Carlyle Letters, Victorian-era correspondence from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle to some of the period’s most notable minds. The project has received four grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Sorensen also stresses his role as an educator. Citing his own experience with academic mentors, he hopes to bring to his own students the same inspiration given him.

“I’m haunted by the obligation that it is paramount to give to a younger generation what was given me,” says Sorensen. “My hope is that I can convey something of the majesty of what it means to study writers as difficult and profound as Carlyle, Ruskin, Browning, Tennyson, Mill and Dickens. They are demanding figures who compel us to think beyond the boundaries of our own experience.”

Agnes Rash, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, received the Faculty Lifetime Service Award. The award is given each year.

During her time at SJU, Rash has served on most major committees, as the acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for one year, and spent 18 years as chair of the mathematics and computer sciences department. While chair, Rash created a mentor system for junior faculty and brought math-centered social events to the department.

“Being a department chair provides an opportunity to be a role model for both faculty and students,” she says. “Overall, I’ve been interested in creating a vibrant learning environment for the students, and a just, congenial and intellectual atmosphere for faculty and staff.”

Rash has also co-authored mathematics textbooks, and her research has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Richard Warren, Ph.D., professor of history and director of the Latin American Studies program, received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, awarded to a faculty member only once in a lifetime. Warren’s classes are known to be, as University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., said during the award presentation, both “engaging and rigorous.”

By focusing on Latin American history and politics, Warren’s classes not only bring the region into focus for students, but also broaden their understanding of global concerns.

“I have been fortunate in that I have come to know Latin America very well, and I try to ignite in my students the same passion for understanding this remarkable region and its people as I have,” says Warren. “I find that I focus on working with my students to hone the tools of discernment required to navigate through this world.”

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