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left to right: EVC Subramani, Karen Garsson '88, FEA Committee Chair Darwin Berg, Elsa Cleland, Anya Gallaccio, Teddy Cruz, Linda Masters, CA Chair David Brink and Chancellor Khosla

Class Acts: Annual Faculty Excellence Awards Honor Outstanding Scholars

What do a philosopher, two biologists, an architect, an operations management expert and a sculptor have in common? They are all recipients of Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards, which recognize faculty members for going above and beyond to make a positive impact in their teaching, research and service.

“I applaud this year’s Faculty Excellence Award recipients for their unique vision and unwavering dedication to our campus and community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “These six faculty members are extending our realms of knowledge through their research, enriching the student learning experience and making significant strides toward equity and inclusion in our community.”

Chancellor’s Associates, a program for donors who give an annual leadership gift of $2,500 or more to the university, has presented the event annually since 1974. This year’s ceremony was held at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and was attended by more than 150 Chancellor’s Associates donors, faculty, staff, students and guests. The event was hosted by Faculty Excellence Awards Selection Committee Chair Karen Garsson ’88 and celebrated the accomplishments of UC San Diego faculty as a whole, while highlighting the important contributions of this year’s honorees via brief video presentations. Each winner was also presented with a citation and a $2,500 honorarium.

The 2016 award recipients are:

Elsa Cleland
Associate Professor of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution
Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
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Elsa Cleland innovatively integrates original research and teaching in her courses, and exemplifies commitment both to undergraduate mentorship outside the classroom and to promoting diversity in science. She founded the Undergraduate Ecology, Behavior and Evolution Club in 2009, serves as the faculty advisor for the UC San Diego Campus Chapter of SEEDS (Strategies for Ecological Education, Diversity and Sustainability), and is the chair of the Division of Biological Sciences’ Diversity Committee.

“Professor Cleland truly stands out as an exceptional undergraduate teacher and mentor,” said James Nieh, professor and chair of the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. “She is passionate about developing the qualities of scholarship and character that encourage students to challenge their boundaries and succeed, inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”

Terrence August
Associate Professor of Innovation, Technology and Operations Management
Excellence in Graduate Teaching
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Terrence August is known for his enthusiasm, his knowledge and his ability to clarify difficult concepts. Under his leadership, Rady School of Management teams have won the prestigious Operations Simulation Competition sponsored by MIT four times since 2010, the only university to win repeatedly. His dedication to teaching has earned acclaim from students and helped him to be named “Most Valuable Professor” and win the “Excellence in Teaching” award multiple times each.

“Professor August has clearly found ideal methods for teaching difficult courses in a way that makes the subject matter comprehensible to students,” said Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management. “Terry is both an exemplary academic citizen and an outstanding scholar-teacher. He is the kind of person who truly makes a difference.”

David O. Brink
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
Excellence in Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
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David Brink is the author of Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (1989), Perfectionism and the Common Good (2003), and Mill’s Progressive Principles (2013), as well as numerous articles in ethical theory, history of ethics and jurisprudence.  His scholarship has been widely recognized and cited, and his last book has been praised as an important contribution not only to Mill studies but also to the utilitarian and liberal traditions.  He recently delivered the prestigious Lindley Lecture on “Responsibility, Incompetence and Psychopathy.”  In addition, Brink directs the Summer Program for Women in Philosophy, which encourages women to pursue advanced degrees in philosophy.

“The scope, sophistication and power of Professor Brink’s work has had an enormous impact on many fields, culminating in a distinctive ‘Brinkian’ vision in moral philosophy,” said Craig Callender, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy. “He has achieved a level of prominence that places him among the top ranks of moral philosophers in the world today.”

Darwin Berg
Distinguished Professor of Biology
Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering
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Darwin Berg is a world leader in neurobiology, specifically in nicotinic signaling and synaptic function in the central nervous system. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of a major modulatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and his work is notable for its practical applications. Over his 40-year career at UC San Diego, his research has been recognized and rewarded, including by election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Professor Berg’s research career and contributions to understanding how the brain develops and functions are fundamentally important,” said Yimin Zou, professor and chair of the Section of Neurobiology. “His pioneering work is highly regarded in the international community of neuroscience and his dedication and service to UC San Diego is well-respected.”

Teddy Cruz
Professor of Public Culture and Urbanism, Visual Arts Department
Excellence in Community Service
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Social inclusion is at the center of Teddy Cruz’s work. A recipient of the prestigious Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, Cruz creates programs that foster collaboration between UC San Diego and diverse communities across the region. With collaborator, UC San Diego Professor Fonna Forman, he designed and directed the Civic Innovation Lab for the San Diego Mayor’s office; the Bi-national Citizenship Culture Survey; and established the UC San Diego/Blum Cross-Border Initiative, a project on regional poverty research and practice. Cruz is also director of Urban Research at the UC San Diego Center on Global Justice.

“Professor Cruz’s passionate advocacy for addressing socio-economic disparities has made the San Diego-Tijuana metroplex a widely recognized model for new ideas about urban planning, economic opportunity, affordable housing and ethnic diversity in underserved areas,” said Jack Greenstein, professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts.

Anya Gallaccio
Professor of Visual Arts
Excellence in the Performing and Visual Arts
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Anya Gallaccio is a world-renowned sculptor whose work transforms the nature of its medium. She emerged in London’s art scene in the 1990s, has taught around the world, and has earned more than 50 solo exhibitions.  Her work is represented in permanent collections from the United Kingdom to Australia. On campus she serves as a graduate advisor and is a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. 

“Professor Gallaccio is one of the most gifted artists of her generation, and her work is acclaimed by museums, collectors, curators and critics throughout the world,” said Jack Greenstein, professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts. “The fact that so many public art institutions support her work is a revealing indicator of the demand for the kind of experience her art inspires.”

Award candidates were nominated by their academic peers, with final selection by a committee comprising Chancellor’s Associates donors. Criteria for selection were based on faculty member achievements, reputation and impact on students and the academic community. Over the past 42 years, UC San Diego has recognized the contributions of more than 142 faculty members.

For more information on Chancellor’s Associates, please click here.