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Caviglia-Harris, Lewis Earn Second Elkins Professorship

Jill Caviglia-Harris Michael Lewis
Jill Caviglia-Harris Michael Lewis
SALISBURY, MD---For the second consecutive year, two Salisbury University professors have won one of the University System of Maryland’s most distinguished awards, which includes an $80,000 prize.

Dr. Michael Lewis, chair of SU’s Environmental Studies Department, and Dr. Jill Caviglia-Harris, professor of economics and environmental studies, have received the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship. The honor helps continue efforts initiated with their inaugural award in 2012. These include creating an organic farm, developing plans for a field station, and integrating research on Amazon deforestation into the classroom.

“Both of these faculty members are strongly dedicated to the mission of our regional comprehensive university, standing out as exceptional scholar-teachers deeply committed to student success,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. “They strive to conduct research to the highest standards of their disciplines and bring that research to an audience not just of their peers, but also of their students.”

Their three-part proposal for the award includes creating a campus organic farm; planning and designing a field research station; and extending Caviglia-Harris’ existing research on the Brazilian Amazon to create research opportunities for undergraduates. The farm hopes to supply food to SU Dining Services and provide teaching opportunities for college and K-12 students. The sustainable research station will allow for study and exploration of the regional environment. Caviglia-Harris’ work, which has already involved some students, will be used to facilitate ongoing undergraduate research through the development a team-taught course and a campus-based summer research institute.

These projects are designed to “transform student learning by providing greater research and experiential opportunities,” Lewis said. The results, according to Caviglia-Harris, will elevate the academic quality of the new department and facilitate meaningful outreach for students, locally and globally.

Lewis, an environmental historian in the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts, has been a driving force behind the development of SU’s Environmental Studies Department, now over 100 majors strong. Based on his conservation work in India, his 2004 book Inventing Global Ecology was praised by journals including Nature and American Historical Review. He has published 14 articles and essays on conservation and environmental history, and edited the book American Wilderness. Lewis won the Fulton School Outstanding Teacher Award in 2010 and the Student Government Association’s Outstanding Professor Award in 2011.

Caviglia-Harris teaches environmental economics for the Environmental Studies Department and microeconomics for the Perdue School of Business’ Economics and Finance Department. She has secured three National Science Foundation grants totaling over $796,000 in support of her research in the Brazilian Amazon, which has led to more than 20 published articles. A champion of undergraduate research, she received the USM Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010 and the Kenneth G. Elzinga Distinguished Teaching Award of the Southern Economic Association in 2011. She also has published articles on teaching, including in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Both faculty members have earned SU’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

The Elkins Professorship was established to perpetuate the contributions of Wilson Elkins, a Rhodes Scholar who led the University of Maryland to new levels of distinction as its president from 1954-1978. When the University System of Maryland began in 1988, Elkins agreed to extend his professorship to the entire USM family.

Six other SU faculty have earned the professorship: Dr. K. Peter Lade of the History Department in 1999; Drs. Harry Basehart and Fran Kane of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, together, in 2004 and 2005; Dr. Brian Polkinghorn of the Center for Conflict Resolution in 2007 and 2008; and Dr. Michael Scott of the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative and Dr. Danny Ervin of ShoreENERGY in 2009.

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