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Press Releases

Monday, April 10, 2006

Three SU Faculty Earn Highest University System Honor

SALISBURY, MD---Three Salisbury University professors have received the highest faculty honor given by the University System of Maryland:  the Regents Award for Excellence.

The Regents recognized Marie Cavallaro of the Art Department for public service, Dr. Jerry Miller of the Philosophy Department for teaching and Dr. E. Eugene Williams of the Biological Sciences Department for mentoring, during a recent ceremony in Baltimore.

"Faculty are at the heart of the university experience.  Great universities have great faculties,” said SU Provost David Buchanan. “The Regents Awards affirm what our students already know: These faculty are great."

The following are highlights about each honoree:

A 33-year senior member and former chair of the Art Department and a Fulbright professor, Cavallaro is an acclaimed visual artist who uses her talent, experience and energy to serve new generations of artists. In 1999 she co-founded the Cavallaro Cleary Visual Arts Foundation (CCART) to raise money for scholarships and awards for local high school students interested in pursuing art majors in college. During the past seven years, CCART has raised some $30,000 for 31 students on the Eastern Shore, in part through its annual holiday arts and crafts sale that has become a tradition on the Delmarva Peninsula. She also founded the SU Art Department Scholarship Fund for freshmen and transfer students, which has generated more than $40,000.

Cavallaro also donates pieces of her ceramic art as well as ceramics classes in her home for local charity auctions and volunteers her time to area schools and home-schooled students. In 2005, she organized the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Art’s pre-conference, “Clay, Fire and Sand,” in Ocean City, MD, and chronicled area ceramicists in a documentary circulated to local schools and libraries and aired on PAC 14 local access television to help shine the spotlight on local artists. She also has helped introduce young artists to the potter’s wheel, sponsoring clay throwing events at SU’s annual Fun Day community festival.

“Professor Cavallaro has worked tirelessly and with extraordinary success to advance public engagement in the arts and to provide scholarships for talented young people to pursue careers in art,” said Dr. Timothy O’Rourke, dean of the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “An accomplished ceramics artist and gifted instructor, Professor Cavallaro has made all of us on the Delmarva Peninsula appreciative students in her extended classroom.”

Since the 1970s, she has juried, curated and exhibited in numerous exhibitions at galleries both locally and nationally, including the Rowe House in Washington, D.C.; the Baltimore Arts Tower; and in London. On campus, she is well known for her annual Faculty Pot Parties, which allowed faculty to get their hands in the clay.

“Her desire to bring art appreciation to her community certainly extends to her academic home of Salisbury University as well,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. “Ms. Cavallaro and her students annually provide opportunities for non-art faculty and staff to literally try their hand at the potter’s wheel to see what hidden talents may have gone undiscovered. … Marie Cavallaro has a record of service to her university and community that is both unique and outstanding.”

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Miller has devotedly served the SU community since 1972, earning accolades from both his colleagues and his students. He is a winner of SU’s prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award, the SU Student Organization Advisor Award (as advisor of the University’s NAACP chapter) and the SU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award, and a two-time recipient of the Student Government Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award. His students consistently rank his classes and techniques among the best at SU.

“More than any other faculty colleague I have known, Dr. Miller appreciates how real education can be, as he puts it, ‘life changing,’ said O’Rourke. “Recognizing the seriousness of this kind of enterprise, Professor Miller undertakes it with uncommon passion and commitment, leavened by genuine decency and humility.” At opposite ends of the political spectrum, “I almost never agree with Dr. Miller and, at the same time, always look forward to our next debate.”

In 1980, Miller founded the annual SU Philosophy Symposium, which during the last quarter century has grown into one of the University’s most popular events both with students and alumni, who “return annually to engage in the kinds of intellectual debates on values and beliefs that they prized in their undergraduate philosophy classes,” said Dudley-Eshbach. “Dr. Jerome Miller has been the leader and model for that amazing cadre of philosopher-educators and, without a doubt, deserves the high recognition of this Board of Regents’ Award in Teaching.”

Students have praised his instructional methods for decades. Said one, “The universe is a huge place that is ordered, and the discussions have order, like in music. Miller plays bass in the group jam.”

In addition to his work in the classroom, Miller has helped educate philosophers worldwide through 16 articles and two books: In the Throe of Wonder: Intimations of the Sacred in a Post-Modern World and The Way of Suffering: A Geography of Crisis, winning the prestigious Basic Issues Forum Award in Philosophy from Washington and Jefferson College.

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An associate professor of biology in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology, Williams has not only taught his students, but worked with them one-on-one to produce some of the boldest scientific experimentation ever practiced at SU. In 2005, he and his students partnered with Old Dominion University for SU’s first rocket launch at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility, testing the metastasizing of cancer cells in zero gravity to advance studies in finding a cure for the disease.

He also recently earned a $25,000 National Science Foundation grant to study lipid metabolism changes in fish in extreme temperatures, in association with the University of California, Santa Barbara—another experiment that may help remediate cancer.

In the past two decades, he has published 19 articles and numerous abstracts, and is a highly sought-after speaker for seminars at campuses such as Penn State, Florida Atlantic and Western Michigan universities. However, his main focus is on his students.

“The number of experiments that are carried out each semester in his lab attests to the freedom and encouragement that Dr. Williams gives to our undergraduates,” said Dudley-Eshbach. “… He believes deeply that students not only learn but mature as they apply classroom knowledge and personal curiosity in the research lab.”

“This university, and in particular, the Henson School of Science and Technology, prides itself on the education of its students through engaging them in research activities, and no one has done this more or better than Dr. Williams,” said Dr. Tom Jones, dean of the Henson School. “… Dr. Williams has rapidly become the most sought-after research advisor in our school.”

In addition to his work with biology students, Williams also advises the SU Sailing Club, offering students from many different academic paths a lesson in what he says is the ultimate educational tool: dedication.

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For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at "

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