Blog Post 9

Top Scholars, etc.

A few nights ago was the Top Scholars awards at the President’s House. As Faculty Fellow I had the honor of issuing kudos. If you have not been to one (and I have not, or at least not yet, for my own achievements), allow me to describe what it is. Those individual faculty members from across the university who have earned certain positions or accolades (or cash!) for their research and creative activities over the course of the past year (in this case 2015), are honored and invited for a cocktail and a chat with the President and Provost and each of their respective Deans. [It is worth noting that this ritual is separate from the faculty awards given out by the Faculty Senate each year and other sundry awards across units at FIU; these are given out by the Provost.] No money changes hands; the designation itself is meant as a point of pride. And, after last night, I think I would say a meaningful one. Meaningful, not because of the rubbing elbows with the President or Provost (but that too for some, I am sure), but because of the depth and scope of the research and creative activities that were celebrated and voiced and that take place on campus each year, each month and each day. I did not know, not really, what colleagues do in the natural sciences – from climate change research to neuropsychology — until working in the Office of the Provost. I did not appreciate what amazing, community-changing and life-saving projects colleagues were embarking on in Architecture or Public Health. Of course, I have had some idea, but I did not see their work, their impact, as part of my own work experience, my university identity. And we look pretty great from where I sit now. The day-to-day struggles and frustrations that I had in my home department or my home college as Director of the EU Center/European Studies is receding. I like the air up here. And, I do not mean vis a vis my own personal ambitions regarding administrative positions. No. Not at all. Rather, I mean my ability to see all of you and all that you do in so many areas of learning and teaching and research and creativity and engagement. Even when I step down after next year, I will still be able to imagine myself as part of this impressive whole.

I think one of the difficulties with university work, with faculty jobs and the busyness of teaching and research and service agendas [not to mention whatever we do with our so-called ‘free’ time] is that we rarely look outside of ourselves, let alone outside of our departments and colleges to see and appreciate the work that is being done across the university. [And mind you, we may be temperamentally inclined toward sustained interest in ourselves.] We have trouble, or at least I did up until June of 2015 when I moved into my temporary PC office, imagining that my woes and challenges – and successes, too – are just that, mine, and not part of a larger FIU ecosystem of colleges, colleagues, and students, and research, and community engagement…..

This broader view makes the impulse to have an “us” versus “them” worldview much more difficult to sustain. We may not always understand each other’s work, its value, or its impact, but, by and large there is a culture of respect across faculties. And, as it happens, some of our administrators, some anyway, participate in that scholarly effort.

Although, of course, I do not mean to imply that all is peachy everywhere and all of the time, and that there is no such thing as a pervasive university culture, a way of operating across all units and levels and categories, that can be problematic. Oh, there is. And, I am gearing up to write about it. But, regardless of the impulse toward personalism or even paternalism, we – you – Top Scholars and all faculty are doing cool things. And, I just wanted to say that I like being part of your journey.

Let’s celebrate these colleagues:

Award Winning Creative Work
Julie Wade CASE English
Roberto Rovira CARTA Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design
Award Winning Publications
Alexander Kroll SIPA Public Administration
Nathaniel Cadle CASE English
Rajamani Narayanan CASE Physics
Nola Holness CNHS Nursing
Lynne Webb CARTA Communication Arts
Geoffrey Smith CEC Computing and Information Sciences
Ryan C. Meldrum SIPA Criminal Justice
Bianca Premo SIPA History
Jenna Gibbs SIPA History
Leanne Wells CASE Mastery Math Program Director
Jon Comer CASE Psychology
Madhavan Nair COM Immunology
Mark Weiss CEC Computing and Information Sciences
Established Faculty with Significant Grants Humanities
Steven Heine SIPA Religious Studies
Established Faculty with Significant Grants Sciences
Marianna Baum CPHSW Dietetics and Nutrition
Eric Wagner CPHSW Social Work
Fernando Noriega CASE Biology
Raul Gonzalez CASE Psychology
Lorraine Bahrick CASE Psychology
Marisela Agudelo COM Immunology
Junior Faculty with Significant Funding Humanities
Iqbal Akhtar SIPA Religious Studies
April Merleaux SIPA History
Junior Faculty with Significant Funding Sciences
Mauricio Rodriguez Lanetty CASE Biology
Margaret Sibley COM Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Arif Sarwat CEC Electrical and Computer Engineering
Notable Academic Appointments
Hakan Yilmazkuday SIPA Economics
Jorge Esquirol COL Law
Maureen Donnelly CASE Biology
Golam Kibria CASE Mathematics & Statistics