For the first time ever, two faculty members were awarded the top prize at FIU’s Faculty Convocation, a yearly award ceremony that recognizes faculty members for their commitment to the university and their students.
Dr. Aileen Marty, a professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, and Stavros Georgakopoulos, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Computing, both received the President’s Council Worlds Ahead Faculty Award. The award, which is paired with a monetary prize, acknowledges full-time faculty who make an impact in their field through research, partnership or creative initiatives; who promote student learning, innovation and collaboration; and who demonstrate distinguished leadership within the university.
“Over the last 27 years, I’ve seen really profound changes in FIU,” said Provost Kenneth Furton, addressing the crowd of faculty and guests at the ceremony. “One thing that has not changed from the first day I set foot on this campus was that we have outstanding faculty that are able to do really amazing things with very limited resources.”
Previously, the Worlds Ahead Faculty Award was given to one faculty member, with first- and second-runners up announced, as well. But this year, the President’s Council declared two winners, Marty and Georgakopoulos, with Luther Brewster, Jr., coming in third place. Brewster, an assistant professor of Humanities, Health and Society in the HWCOM, also won the Faculty Award for Excellence in Engagement.
“I love the decision that was made,” Marty said, commenting that she was torn as she waited for the winner to be announced, because while she had hoped to win herself, she admired Georgakopoulos’ work and was rooting for him to win, too. “We were both happy, and it didn’t matter either way. And then you guys came up with a great solution. We both won.”
Marty, who’s been with FIU for three years, said she and Georgakopoulos had discussed their work over dinner, and she was excited at the possibility of collaborating with him on future projects.
“I’m very honored to get this big award. It means a lot to me that all my efforts are recognized by FIU,” said Georgakopoulos, who’s been with the university for eight years. “It means a lot to faculty when you work hard all these years to get that recognition.”
Faculty Convocation got a facelift this year. Attendees left their graduation regalia at home, instead dressing up for a semi-formal awards ceremony and banquet in the Graham Center ballrooms, where they sipped wine and enjoyed jazz and classical performances from FIU’s Brass Choir, Graduate String Quartet, Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Vocal Quartet and HeartBeats a cappella ensemble. Before dinner, the Brass Choir unveiled a special treat for the audience, playing a spritely “Fanfare for a President,” a piece composed in honor of President Rosenberg by ensemble conductor Jim Hacker.
The event’s theme, “Bright minds lighting the way,” highlighted the university’s effort to let faculty know they are appreciated for continuing to inspire students and encourage innovation each year.
“Students and administrators come and go, but it’s the faculty that remain for decades,” Furton said, “and they weave the fabric that is our academy.”
Other awardees at this year’s convocation include:
- Darden Pyron, founding faculty member and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences
Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching:
- Dr. Gagani Athuada, assistant professor of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
- Hector Huerta, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy in the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences
- Ebru Ozer, associate professor of Landscape Architecture in the College of Architecture + The Arts
- Joanne Sanders-Reio, senior instructor of Leadership and Professional Studies in the College of Education
- Uma Swamy, senior lecturer of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Jill Weiss, senior instructor of Computer and Information Sciences in the College of Engineering and Computing
Faculty Award for Excellence in Service:
- Victor Uribe-Uran, associate professor of History in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences
Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities:
- Eric Bishop-von Wettberg, assistant professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Erik Camayd-Freixas, professor of Modern Languages in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Kenneth Feeley, associate professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Orlando Jacinto Garcia, professor in the School of Music in the College of Architecture + The Arts
- Kevin O’Shea, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Martha Pelaez, professor of Leadership and Professional Studies in the College of Education
Faculty Award for Excellence in Engagement:
- Luther Brewster, Jr., assistant professor of Humanities, Health and Society in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Faculty Award for Excellence in Librarianship:
- Marisol Florén-Romero, assistant director of the Law Library at the College of Law
Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentorship and Advising:
- Jiuhua George Chen, professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computing
- Krishnaswamy Jayachandran, professor of Earth and Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Steven Oberbauer, professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences
Adjunct Faculty Awards:
- Ivanessa Arostegui, lecturer of Religious Studies in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Jeffrey Greenfield, lecturer of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computing
- Marcos Alan Kerbel, lecturer of Finance in the College of Business