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Graduate and Professional Teaching and Mentoring Award Winners Announced

Submitted on April 18, 2016

Last October, The Graduate College issued a Call for Nominations of awards to acknowledge faculty and professionals who excel in their teaching and mentoring of graduate and professional students. Two such awards are given annually. Each winner will receive a check for $2500.00, a medallion and plaque at a reception today. Tenure-track, tenured and non-tenure eligible faculty who can demonstrate a long-standing commitment to graduate education are eligible. Candidates may be nominated by students, staff, faculty members, department heads, graduate program directors or deans. A committee of faculty members and university professionals reviewed the nomination packets and made their recommendations to the Dean of the Graduate College. The following faculty are the 2016 winners:

Nader Chalfoun, Professor of Architecture

Dr. Nader Chalfoun is the longest serving teacher in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. When he came to the UA in the 1980s, he initiated groundbreaking work in passive and alternative climate design and energy conservation, paving the way for today’s sustainability initiatives, and leading to his recognition as an “American Pioneer of Energy Conscious Design” by the American Institute of Architects.

Dr. Chalfoun founded, and continues to Chair, the Design and Energy Conservation track of the Master of Science in Architecture program, just one of several graduate programs that he has built from scratch. He also holds an appointment in the Arid Lands Resource Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program.

Dr. Chalfoun’s Environmental Science Laboratory supports students. He and his students designed and built a 28 ft. boundary layer, contraction-less wind tunnel; a heliodon, an overcast sky simulator; and portable climate stations — all used to test structural performance.

In 1986, he created a service-learning course that began the House Energy Doctor program.  Today the program supports graduate and undergraduate students’ use of sophisticated protocols to measure and test energy efficiency for commercial structures, local homes, and university buildings. Students come from around the world to study energy efficient design appropriate for arid land environments.

His teaching evaluations are among the best seen by the award review committee and his students regularly present their research at local and international conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and win national and international awards.  A broad group of students past and present submitted letters of support in honor of his nomination. Each expressed deep gratitude for his professional guidance, and continued mentorship beyond graduation, as well as his “persistent respect for all students.”

colleagues wrote: “as the consummate gentleman, Prof. Chalfoun exemplifies the professional behavior we aspire to for our students and faculty.”  Several noted how he generously opens his home to his students, and “treats them like family,” and finally: “He is the professor most dedicated to individual mentoring in our college.”

Price Fishback, Professor of Economics

Dr. Price Fishback is a world-renowned Economic Historian whose publications and research examine American Economic History, Labor Economics, Political Economy, as well as Law and Economics.  He joined the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management in 1990 and has taught at every level.

Widely-viewed as an inspiring teacher, his core graduate classes include Macroeconomics, American Economic History, World Economic History, and Research Methods.  He also teaches Managerial Economics, Strategy and Economics, and his famous Math Basic (Boot Camp) for MBA students—mentioned in several of the recommendation letters.

The list of graduate students mentored by Professor Fishback fills multiple pages.  One former student, now a lecturer himself writes: “Price Fishback is unparalleled in his enthusiasm, passion and generosity in mentoring graduate students…I try to emulate him in my own teaching and mentoring.”  Another former student and current Assistant Professor writes: It is not clear to me if the quantity or quality of Price Fishback’s students is more impressive” and he goes on to list prizes from around the world garnered by his students, including seven finalists or winners of the Nevins Prize, the leading prize for outstanding dissertation in American Economic History.  Of the doctoral students whose dissertation Prof. Fishback has chaired, nineteen are now tenured or tenure-track professors, two are research fellows, and four are chairs of vice presidents of major corporations.

Professor Fishback’s stature in the field, with six books, numerous articles and an impressive record of research and dissertation fellowships funded by the National Science Foundation, enriches his graduate teaching. One former student writes of the value of collaborating on research grants and projects with Dr. Fishback and remembered with pleasure meeting distinguished invited scholars who contributed to his Economics History seminar. Whether Professor Fishback is lecturing on the “How the New Deal Saved Housing during the Great Depression” or “Big Data,” he finds time to mentor current graduate students and stay in touch with former ones. 

As one current student writes: “Without Price both the field of economics and graduate students at the University of Arizona would be significantly worse off. I can’t imagine a person more deserving of a prize that recognizes graduate instruction and mentoring.”