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Faculty scholarship honored at New Kensington campus

Faculty publications
Dr. Craig Hammond
12/7/2011 —



Four faculty awards, three sabbaticals and 21 publications were reasons to celebrate Dec. 7, at a reception in Blissell Library at Penn State New Kensington. Jennifer Gilley, head librarian, hosted the 10th annual faculty publications party, meant to honor the accomplishments of faculty members at the New Kensington campus.

The informal get-together is an effective way for members of the campus family to recognize achievements during the year and “a nice venue for faculty to share potential opportunities for interdisciplinary projects,” said Arlene Hall, director of academic affairs at the campus.

Honored with the Excellence in Teaching Awards were Rujirutana Mandhachitara, associate professor of business administration; Samuel Goldstrohm, instructor in criminal justice; and Sherri Donnelly, adjunct faculty for continuing education. The faculty have three areas of responsibility: teaching, research/scholarly activity and service. The award recognizes campus faculty contributions in teaching. The principal criterion is excellent classroom performance, but excellence in other activities such as advising, supervision of learning outside the classroom, and course development are considered.

In addition to the campus awards, Maria Franco de Gomez, instructor in Spanish, and Robert “Doc” Mueller, associate professor of engineering, were recognized for earning University-wide awards. Franco de Gomez received the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Atherton Award is presented each year to six full-time faculty members who have devoted substantial effort to and developed a record of excellence in undergraduate teaching. Mueller was selected for the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Teaching Award, which is presented annually to an engineering faculty for contributions to the art of teaching.

Sabbaticals were granted to Allen Larson, associate professor of communications, Robert Mathers, associate professor of chemistry, and Harold Smith, associate professor of information sciences and technology.

Among the numerous papers, articles and chapters written by the New Kensington faculty was a book on the politics of slavery, edited by Craig Hammond, assistant professor of history, that was published by the University of Virginia Press. "Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation," is an anthology of essays that challenges the conventional wisdom of the expansion of slavery after the American Revolution. Hammond co-edited the book with Matthew Mason, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University.

Scholarly publications were not exclusive to faculty. Special recognition was garnered by a former undergraduate at the campus. Carolyn Serene, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Penn State Altoona, wrote a paper, “A Generalization of the Second Derivative Test,” that was published in the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal, a publication that promotes mathematics.

Reference librarian Amy Rustic, library assistant Yesenia Figueroa-Lifschitz and staff assistant Beth Matocha assisted in planning the afternoon reception.


Dr. Robert Bridges, associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Richard Harnish, associate professor of psychology, co-authored three articles--“Effect of Syllabus Tone: Students’ Perceptions of Instructor and Course” for Social Psychology of Education;  “Engaging Students in Applied Social Psychology” for Promoting Student Engagement; and “Activities, Exercises and Demonstrations for Psychology Courses” for Society for the Teaching of Psychology. In addition, Dr. Harnish wrote an article, “Creating the Foundation for a Warm Classroom Climate: Best Practices in Syllabus Tone,” for The Observer.

Dr. Donald Bruckner, assistant director of academic affairs and assistant professor of philosophy, wrote three articles--“Second-Order Preferences and Instrumental Rationality” for Acta Analytica; “Colburn on Covert Influences” for Utilitas; and “Present Desire Satisfaction and Past Well-Being” for Australasian Journal of  Philosophy.

Dr. Javier Gomez-Calderon, professor of mathematics, wrote an article, “A Note on Cyclotomic Subfields,” for Far East Journal of Mathematical Sciences.

Dr. William Hamilton, assistant professor of biology, and Deborah Sillman, senior instructor in biology, blogged “Ecologist’s Notebook” for their “Hiking Western PA: Observations of Western PA’s Ecosystems.”

Dr. Craig Hammond, assistant professor of history, edited a book, “Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation,” that was published by University of Virginia Press.

Dr. Jyotsna “Josi” Kalavar, associate director of human development and family studies, wrote a pair of articles, “Elder Abuse in India: Extrapolating from the Experiences of Seniors in India’s ‘Pay and Stay’ Homes,” for Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect and “Aging of Indian Women in India:  The Experience of Older Women in Formal Care Homes,” for Journal of Women and Aging.

Joan Kowalski, senior instructor in engineering, and Tracie Brockhoff, demonstration and equipment specialist in biology and chemistry, delivered a paper, “The FIRSTE Decade of the New Millennium Outcomes and Assessment,” at the American Society for Engineering Education National Conference.

Dr. Rujirutana Mandhachitara, associate professor of business administration, wrote two articles--“A Model of Customer Loyalty and Corporate Social Responsibility,” for  the Journal of Services Marketing and  “Professional Women’s Variety-Seeking Behavior in Fashion Clothing,” for Academy of Marketing Journal.

Dr. Robert Mathers, assistant professor of chemistry, co-edited a book, “Green Polymerization Methods: Renewable Starting Materials, Catalysis and Waste Reduction," that was published by John Wiley and Sons.

Dr. Michael McGinnis, associate professor of business administration, co-authored an article, “A Structural Equation Model Assessment of Logistics Strategy,” for the International Journal of Logistics Management.

Dr. Lois Rubin, associate professor of English, wrote an article, “Jewish Identity over the Life Cycle: Poems by Maxine Kumin and Linda Pastan,” for Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal.

Dr. Jennifer Wood, associate professor of education, co-authored an article, "Turning Silence into Speech and Action: Prison Activism and the Pedagogy of Empowered Citizenship," for Communication in Critical/Cultural Studies.

Dr. Yang Xu, assistant professor of business administration, wrote four articles--“Entrepreneurial Social Capital and Cognitive Model of Innovation,” for Management Research Review; “Gender Influences on Mental Models of Firm Strategies,” for Gender in Management; An International Journal; "Competitive Network and Competitive Behavior: A Study of the U.S. Airline Industry," for Academy of Strategic Management Journal; and “A Social-Cognitive Perspective on Firm Innovation,”  for Academy of Strategic Management Journal.

Carolyn Serene wrote an article, “A Generalization of the Second Derivative Test,” for Pi Mu Epsilon Journal.

Maria Franco de Gomez, instructor in Spanish, George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Dr. Robert “Doc” Mueller, associate professor in engineering, Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS)
Dr. Rujurutana Mandhachitara, associate professor of business administration, Excellence in Teaching (full-time)
Samuel Goldstrohm, instructor in criminal justice, Excellence in Teaching (part-time)
Sherri Donnelly, Continuing Education, Excellence in Teaching (adjunct)

Dr. Allen Larson, associate professor of communications
Dr. Robert Mathers, associate professor of chemistry
Dr. Harold Smith, associate professor of information sciences and technology

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