Faculty Honors: Mahesh Senagala, L.J. Shrum and Marian Aitches
By Shelley Kilpatrick
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts
(May 10, 2007)--Associate Professor Mahesh Senagala received the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Performance and Creative Production or Other Scholarly Achievement, Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty at the UTSA Faculty Honors Convocation May 3.
Professor L.J. Shrum received the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in University Service, Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty.
Senior Lecturer Marian Aitches was honored with the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Core Curriculum Teaching, Non-Tenure Track Faculty.
The convocation honors recipients of teaching, research and service awards and acknowledges recent retirees.
Mahesh Senagala is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture. He has been at UTSA for eight years and teaches design studios, and lecture and seminar courses that focus on harnessing cutting-edge technologies and innovative design methods.
One of his nominators said, "Each day I walk under the design work of Senagala's studio as I enter the Monterey Building where the College of Architecture is housed. It stands as a testimony to the dedication of what can be done with very little resources and one studio full of dedicated and determined students."
Senagala is a ceaseless practitioner of new teaching methods and has searched for the means, materials and methods to propel his students beyond the inherent limitations of the design studio. In the process of doing this, he has brought UTSA international recognition.
He teaches his students by establishing a rigorous and disciplined approach to design as an active and vital process of searching through dialogue and community building.
In this way he has taught the students how to think and that design requires a community. Because of this, his teaching evaluations reveal an excellent teacher who stimulates his students to think outside of the box.
Another nominator said, "I might classify his teaching as intriguing, novel or even profound in that he searches for solutions with his students, takes the very same risks that he expects his students to take, and makes the same discoveries. Not content to rely on conventional teaching models, Senagala has taken us all a little closer to where we are headed."
L.J. Shrum is a professor in the Department of Marketing. His dedication to UTSA and the College of Business is truly extraordinary. He is available for every project the college undertakes and takes great pains to help others fulfill their service obligations to the university.
Shortly after arriving at UTSA, Shrum organized and implemented the first research subject pool in the College of Business. This effort ensures that all faculty have access to participants in research studies that are vital to submitting manuscript to top-tier journals.
Shrum is the principal contact for 600 students from Principles of Marketing classes, scheduling each student in 3 studies and assigning credit. Additionally, he established the Behavioral Research Laboratory by securing the space and computer equipment, and training faculty. He has been the driving force behind recruiting to the department. Many new faculty came because of his efforts and UTSA's growing national reputation.
To enhance UTSA research capabilities, Shrum was instrumental in revising and energizing the UTSA Institutional Review Board, which reviews all research projects that use human subjects. Additionally, he was a key developer of the recently approved Ph.D. in marketing.
Because of his many publications in top journals, Shrum often is asked by journal editors and conference chairs to review dozens of manuscripts. He serves on editorial boards of 5 top journals and is ad hoc reviewer for more than 20.
Additionally, Shrum serves on many committees that contribute to UTSA's success. He maintains a high level of productivity, while making these enormous contributions.
Marian Aitches is a senior lecturer in the Department of History. She teaches two core courses in Women and Gender Studies and Approaches to American Culture.
Aitches has redesigned the Approaches to American Culture course in keeping with a transnational perspective on American culture that recognizes domains of race, ethnicity, gender and class.
She is an outstanding teacher and has been described by students as inspirational, transformative, passionate, critical and challenging. She encourages class participation, debate, high-quality writing and the art of conversation.
According to one nominator, "Few testaments are as powerful as the voices of students. On countless occasions, UTSA students have visited me for curriculum advice. In the midst of conversations about courses, I repeatedly hear testaments about the wonderful classes offered by Marian Aitches. Many students define her as their favorite teacher. In spite of the demanding nature of her courses, students flock to her, praise her and appreciate her work. Additionally, faculty throughout the university have benefited from her advice, practices and pedagogy."
Another nominator said, "Her courses challenge students to read and discuss complex, controversial but highly relevant issues."
One student said in an evaluation that "Dr. Aitches expects a lot of her students because she believes you can do it. She is always willing to help - just be prepared to read."
Her teaching demonstrates distinguished performance in teaching and outstanding innovation in the development of core curriculum teaching.