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ALUMNI AWARDS FOR TEACHING EXCELLENCE

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 26 - April 3, 1997

Joseph Merola

By Sally Harris

A natural teacher who loves his subject and his students, Joseph S. Merola, professor of chemistry, is a winner of the Alumni Teaching Award.

Praised by students and faculty members for his knowledge and highly motivating presentation of the subject matter, his concern for and rapport with his students, and the effectiveness of his class demonstrations, Merola is a three-time winner of the Certificate of Teaching Excellence of the College of Arts and Sciences-in 1991, 1994, and 1997. He also was a finalist for the Alumni Teaching Award last year. One student summed it up this way: "Without a doubt, Dr. Merola is one of the best teaching professors here at Virginia Tech."

Merola, who came to Virginia Tech after an industrial career, is a member of Cyberschool II and is on the steering committee of the 1996 Faculty Development Initiative workshop. He made a presentation at a conference in Roanoke on technology in the classroom and the presentation was included in a CD-ROM being prepared by Microsoft.

Merola has been chairman of the department's Graduate Committee and director of its graduate program since 1991. He was a member of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies and was chair in 1994-95. He has served on the College of Arts and Sciences' Committee on Teaching Excellence since 1992 and was chair in 1995-96.

Besides serving on a Ph.D. and M.S. committees, Merola is the department's career advisor and graduate advisor. He has served as faculty advisor to the chemistry fraternity and the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates Chapter, which was named Commendable Chapter during his term.

Merola has served the profession and community in numerous ways, including being a member of the Gifted Advisory Committee of the Montgomery County School System, of which he is chair, serving on the Montgomery County Science Curriculum Committee, serving on the American Chemical Society Panel to review the state of chemistry undergraduate education at large Ph.D.-granting institutions, and chairing the American Chemical Society Virginia Blue Ridge Section.

Eileen Shugart

By Sally Harris

According to the people who nominated Eileen T. Shugart, instructor of mathematics, for the Alumni Teaching Award, teachers just don't come any better.

Challenging, demanding, but caring-and one talented lecturer-Shugart was described over and over again, by students and peers alike, as the best. "Clearly at the top," "I have not been more impressed by anyone's teaching in the 25 years I have been at Tech," "my legendary teacher," and "the best math teacher there is" are just a few of the comments made about her teaching. Peers and students both praised Shugart's passion for teaching, her caring for each individual student, and the great lengths to which she is willing to go to help those students.

Shugart has won previous teaching awards: the Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 1995 and Instructor of the Year for the department in 1994.

Besides her outstanding teaching, Shugart is known for her commitment to helping others improve their teaching, her leadership in the use of technology, and her exemplary service. She was named teaching-assistant coordinator for the department in 1996 and given responsibility for training, orientation, certification, mentor assignment, and supervision of the department's 67 graduate-teaching assistants as well as coordinating the department's 40 undergraduate TA's. In that position, she will contribute to the success of the GTA's and have a positive impact on the experience of thousands of students being taught mathematics by those GTA's, according to Robert F. Olin, department head.

Shugart has developed 44 Mathematica computer labs for math classes and taught the pilot section of the Reform Calculus version of Multivariable Calculus. She was a presenter at the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics in 1995.

Shugart was a member of the steering committee for the Departmental Mathematica Workshop in the Faculty Development Institute in 1994 and a presenter in 1995 and 1996. She helped form a Departmental Instructor Affairs Committee and was a member of the Mathematics Department Teaching Committee, 1993-94.