Professors Weppner, Epstein honored for their leadership

September 21, 2015

Two Eckerd College faculty members were recognized for their leadership during the annual Faculty Awards Reception.

Professor of Physics Stephen P. Weppner received the John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. Professor of Music Joan O. Epstein received the Grover C. Wrenn Award for Leadership and Service to General Education.

The Bevan award is named for Eckerd’s founding academic dean and honors individual faculty members for nurturing a campus climate that fosters teaching at its best.

Left to right: Joan Epstein, Suzan Harrison, Stephen Weppner

Left to right: Joan Epstein, Suzan Harrison, Stephen Weppner

The awards were presented on Friday, Sept. 19 at Fox Hall by Dean of Faculty Suzan Harrison. In his welcoming remarks, President Don Eastman called the awards “two of the highest distinctions this institution offers, each named for someone whose very name recalls and celebrates the core values of the College.”

Bevan Award

The following citation was presented to Professor Weppner:

For constantly exploring ways to keep students engaged in the classroom by pioneering interactive engagement techniques at Eckerd, from collaborative group problem solving on whiteboards to “flipping” your classroom;

For developing and team teaching with your colleague David Bryant, Professor of Religious Studies, an interdisciplinary course on Religion and Science that challenges students to think beyond the assumptions they bring to the study of these complex and intersecting ways of understanding ourselves, our world, and our universe;

For establishing a formal tutoring program for physics, mathematics, and chemistry as part of a National Science Foundation grant; For serving on the General Education Revision Steering Committee, which developed the new core curriculum by which we now introduce our students to the richness of a liberal arts education;

For your generous, ongoing support of faculty using the Wiki site for their classes;

For mentoring students in research projects every summer, leading to peer-reviewed papers with student coauthors, while teaching these same students the physics and computer coding skills necessary to make meaningful progress in the research;

For your leadership in preparing our students to participate in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition, coaching them to numerous victories, and for your work to integrate the Ethics Bowl process of critical thinking and debate into our curriculum;

For your role in coordinating the partnership between Eckerd College and the Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP) that brought to our campus a conference on food production, allowing our students to engage with world experts on the important project of developing sustainable solutions to feed the world;

And for your service on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, working to engage the campus community in a discussion of the challenges and opportunities the College should consider as we chart our course for the next five years, Eckerd College presents the John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award to Stephen P. Weppner, Professor of Physics.

Wrenn Award

The following citation was presented to Professor Epstein:

For teaching the first-year course sequence more often than any other faculty member at the College, over 20 times, and always doing so with enthusiasm and passion that you communicate to your students;

For challenging your students to engage intellectually and emotionally in the texts and topics of the course and fostering their desire to expand their thinking;

For the impressive assignments you developed for your Autumn Term course, Icarus Ascending, which encourage students to combine classical mythology, contemporary technology, critical thinking, and creative expression;

For presenting plenaries in the first-year core course that teach students and faculty to hear the richness, beauty, and complexity of music and for featuring student and faculty performers in those plenary sessions;

For sponsoring and performing in many concerts and performances for the College Program Series;

For teaching us how to discuss music with our students, enhancing our powers of appreciation, teaching us ways of listening, and giving us the language and the questions for fruitful contemplation of the musical arts;

And for serving as a mentor to other faculty teaching in the first-year core sequence, sharing with your colleagues the creative assignments and imaginative pedagogy you employ to bring the course to life for our students, Eckerd College presents the Wrenn Award for Leadership and Service to General Education to Joan Epstein, Professor of Music.