Committee chooses Distinguished Faculty Award nominees

The nominees for the 2007 Distinguished Faculty Award have been announced, with three candidates being selected for this year’s award including Professor of Music Maria DiPalma, Professor of English Melvin Wilk, and Professor of Theatre Steve McLean.

DiPalma has been teaching at Simpson for 27 years and has served as chair of the department since the fall of 2000. She teaches voice, Survey of Music Literature (a Liberal Arts Seminar course), and a seminar course for vocal performance majors. DiPalma has also taught many different May Term courses, including opera workshops.

DiPalma said she is flattered to have been nominated.

“It makes me feel good because almost all of my time is spent on student-related projects,” DiPalma said. “Everything I do is student centered, and running the department means providing constructive educational opportunities for students to enhance their experience.”

DiPalma was nominated about 10 years ago, but she has never received the award.

Wilk has been teaching at Simpson for about 26 years. He teaches composition classes, as well as minority perspective courses, such as African-American Literature and Jewish-American Writers. Wilk also teaches a poetry course.

Wilk has never received the Distinguished Faculty Award but said he has received the Distinguished Research Award for scholarly or creative work by a faculty member.

Wilk said it’s a wonderful feeling to think his investment in doing the best job he can as a teacher seems to have reached his students.

“I am honored to be nominated,” Wilk said. “I try my best to be flexible and fair, but I maintain a consistently high standard of academic performance, and I try to get my students to realize that they are capable of much more than they realize. I feel grateful to my students. Being nominated is especially gratifying because Simpson places such a strong emphasis on teaching, and there are so many fine teachers here.”

McLean has been teaching at Simpson for about 16 years. He teaches design and technical theatre courses and has taught the Discovering Theatre LAS course.

McLean said this is the first time he has been nominated for the award, and said the nomination is a great honor.

“That students have been impressed is a huge reward in and of itself,” McLean said. “I’m flattered that students have enjoyed what I have taught in class enough to nominate me.”

The award, given annually since 1986, includes a $1,000 stipend and a plaque given at commencement. To be eligible for the award, a faculty member must be a full-time, active, regularly appointed associate or full professor who holds a regular non-terminal contract. The faculty member must also be teaching at Simpson or serve on sabbatical during the year following the award.

Eligible faculty members must be recognized by students and faculty as meeting the following criteria: 1) Outstanding ability as a teacher, 2) concern for students’ personal development, 3) enhancement of high academic standards, and 4) support of Simpson College’s goals through attitude and performance.

“This award means a lot to the faculty recipients,” Senior Evan Schaefer said in an e-mail sent out during the nomination process.

The award winner will be announced during the commencement ceremony on May 19.