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USM Regent Faculty Awards

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

At its April 11 meeting at Towson University, the USM Board of Regents will recognize SU's Dr. Memo Diriker, Dr. Kimberly Hunter and Dr. Judith Stribling for their outstanding contributions, along with eight from other System institutions.

These 11 educators, recommended by the Regents Faculty Award Committee, are an example for every person in higher education," said Clifford M. Kendall, chairman of the Board. "Through their hard work, dedication, and creative endeavors, they have shown that for teachers and students alike, real learning knows no boundaries. The Board is pleased to bestow its highest honor upon them."

"These three distinguished individuals represent more than a fourth of this year's award winners," said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. "The only other institution represented by three is the University of Maryland College Park, which has a far larger faculty enjoying greater resources. The Regents Committee has verified what I sincerely believe: Salisbury University faculty are providing a sterling education to their students which is second to none in Maryland. I am proud and grateful to call them colleagues."

Each recipient of an award for mentoring, public service, teaching, research, scholarship, and creative activity will receive $1,000 and a plaque of recognition for the honor. Each recipient of an award for interinstitutional collaboration will receive $500 and a plaque.

This year's award winners for excellence in USM interinstitutional collaboration are SU's Stribling, associate professor of biology in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology, and Gian Gupta, professor of environmental sciences and chemistry in the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Stribling and Gupta lead the nationally recognized undergraduate dual-degree program in environment/marine science and biology at their respective institutions. Ten years ago, UMES and Salisbury began a collaboration that took advantage of their existing strengths and avoided the costs of duplicating a program offered at a nearby institution. Stribling was assigned by SU to coordinate and strengthen the program in 1997, and she found a ready ally in Gupta, who has led the UMES side of the effort since 1991. Both Gupta and Stribling teach a full load of courses and advise more than 25 students. Gupta supervises graduate students and serves in the faculty governance organizations at UMES and Stribling performs community service with several non-profit and environmental organizations, supervises undergraduate research, and advises the student Bioenvirons Club. Recognized nationally in 1998 by the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for collaborative programming between a historically black institution and a predominantly white campus, the UMES-Salisbury dual-degree program has been hailed as an example of the kind of collaboration that can be achieved within the USM family of institutions.

Winner for excellence in public service is Diriker, associate professor of marketing in the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business. Diriker has been a tireless contributor to many endeavors that have enriched the Eastern Shore's quality of life. Residents of the Eastern Shore feel an attachment to SU because of Diriker. They may read his weekly newspaper column, may have seen him interviewed on television, or may make use of his annual Regional Economic Forecast. They may own a business that used him as a consultant, belong to the same civic organization, or speak Spanish and appreciate his initiation of Bienvenidos a Delmarva. Diriker's community involvement affects his classroom, becoming a basis for case studies, student projects, and further research. Under his guidance, the student chapter of the Perdue School's American Marketing Association won its first national awards. Awareness of the need to apply his extensive knowledge of economic and marketing principles to understand and solve public sector challenges has spurred him to develop online learning modules and to use technology to help diverse communities communicate.

Winner of the award for excellence in teaching is Kimberly Hunter, assistant professor of biological sciences also in the Henson School. Hunter is a leader in engaging Salisbury's biology majors as well as students from other disciplines in learning about biology, botany in particular, through undergraduate research. She has mentored more than 140 students in various research projects since she arrived on campus in 1997. Hunter teaches the required complement of three or four courses each semester, advises 30 students, and fulfills expectations for university and community service. What separates top-tier scientists from the rest is their capacity for asking important questions. Hunter helps her students learn how to recognize those important questions, and how to ask them. About 20 students are involved in research each semester working on one of five projects, with two to five students on each project. Each project involves field collection of plant samples, modern genetic analysis, intensive literature research, grant writing, lab work, data analysis, and project presentation of work. In some cases a paper may be produced for peer review. All projects focus on population genetics and use similar DNA analysis techniques. Hunter regularly checks each group's progress and demonstrates proper lab techniques to a few students who teach others. Experience in this efficiently run laboratory helps students discover or raise their career goals, learn skills that are immediately useful in industry or graduate school, and contribute their independent effort to a group project.

"Professors Diriker, Hunter and Stribling were nominated by their faculty colleagues at the University, which is in itself a significant honor," said SU Provost David Buchanan. "Their creative and innovative leadership is helping SU fulfill its mission both on campus and in the surrounding region."