SUU In View (Alumni Magazine)
Associate Professor of Art and Department Chair, Eric Brown is regarded by his colleagues and his students as an effective administrator and charismatic teacher. Thorough and thoughtful in his approach to leading faculty, as well as collaborating with them, Eric has received nothing but the highest respect for his gifts as an artist, too. Students speak of how his approachability and in-depth knowledge of the field help them progress and grow; while following his instructions on drawing, students will likely hear Eric recite philosophical writings, too, that ask questions about life, death, and other deep issues that arise in-between. One of Eric’s colleagues says of him, “Eric is a friend of the muses and speaks under their influence.” His work is frequently on exhibit in reputable galleries including the Springville Museum of Arts. He recently gave a presentation titled “The Two Cultural Necessities” at the prestigious Oxford Round Table in England and also offers an intriguing perspective on the popular book “The Da Vinci Code.” During the past few summers, Eric has organized and led educational tours of European countries for students and community as part of SUU’s Study Abroad program. Tourists from his groups repeatedly cite his encyclopedic talent for telling stories about a culture’s people, places and art, in a way that makes the experience come alive.
Professor of History at SUU since 1981, Jim Vlasich has had a banner year in his scholarly efforts. He has had two books published! The first, “Pueblo Indian Agriculture,” offers the only documented history of the Pueblos, spanning four centuries. The piece is being regarded as a groundbreaking history of the this group of American peoples, a vanguard perspective on the subject covered. Thirty years in the making, the book means something special to Vlasich. He says of it, “In essence, this is my career you’re holding in your hands.” Vlasich was chosen by a review committee to give the annual SUU Distinguished Faculty Lecture last November on the subject of the Pueblo culture. The second book recently released is titled, “Horsehide, Pigskin, Oval Tracks and Apple Pie: Essays on Sports and American Culture” and is an anthology of papers written by Popular Culture Association presenters which investigate some academic considerations in the world of sports. Vlasich, an officer in the Association, edited and compiled these papers into “Horsehide,” et al., exhibiting how sports have become an established area for research and publication, and how courses have developed in the field, too. Vlasich teaches history of the Southwest, American Indian studies and sports history, and is key in the design of many of the multicultural weeks on campus.
Associate Professor of Psychology Steve Barney is regarded by colleagues, co-workers and students as an exceptional teacher, scholar and clinical psychologist. As a licensed and active practitioner, Steve brings a vast amount of practical experience to his classes on both a theoretical and applied basis, and uses a variety of methods and strategies to convey concepts. His scholarly activities are as outstanding as his teaching as he balances basic research with integration of information, and then application, so that students are integrally involved and challenged, leading to significant personal and professional growth. His countless papers and projects have contributed to the field with national-reaching implications. His service on campus and in the community far exceeds reasonable expectations and significantly adds to the culture of the psychology department. Steve has been a dramatic key in the current process of the institutionalization of the pedagogical tool of service-learning. He recently received a statewide award for the advancement of service-learning.
Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, Rea Gubler has been teaching at SUU for 28 years. Students say time and time again how they are grateful for the chance to be in Rea’s class. Her impact is in the way she teaches, they say, citing how she covers subjects in depth, gives real-life examples, and implements vivid teaching tools to reinforce ideas and motivate students. Rea has been a key force in the growth of the Early Childhood Development and Family and Consumer Sciences programs. She organized SUU’s “Week of the Young Child” program, is a past director of the childcare program at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and has written dozens of papers on everything from how to reduce the effects of bullying through prevention, to how to promote literacy. A member of numerous professional associations, she has also garnered several grants that deemed her research and work worthwhile.
Professor of History Larry Ping has been teaching on the Third Reich, ancient Greece and Rome, and modern European history at SUU for the past 16 years. Larry is valued by students and co-workers for his up-to-date lectures and broad knowledge, and maintains an exceptionally high rate of approval in student evaluations. One student commented, “I simply and thoroughly enjoy his classes. I never wanted to miss a lecture.” A two-time SUU Distinguished Lecturer, Larry’s latest achievement is the publication of his first book, titled, “Gustav Freytag and the Prussian Gospel: Novels, Liberalism, and History.” Larry has been has been scrutinizing Freytag for a quarter of a century, and has been commended by leading, national editors as having done an excellent job of getting beyond the clichés of German culture, and into the real mentality and motivations of the people. “This is how I try to teach history, too,” Larry reveals. “I try to lead my students down an investigative path asking and answering questions about why or how something happened.”
Outstanding Female Staff Member
As Degree Audit Coordinator in the Registrar’s office, Lea has maintained the degree audit system for the past 17 years. In fact, she recently rebuilt the entire system from scratch while still preserving the program’s history. Her vast knowledge and efficient advisement to students on fulfilling their academic and graduation goals, have saved them time, money and worry. Making sure students take the right classes at the right times is sometimes a sensitive subject; Lea works with them with patience and caring. Her dependable cheerfulness and optimism have been an inspiration to many. One co-worker acknowledged, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood, even when she was ill.” Lea’s wonderful sense of humor has been the life of her office; her co-workers testify that it has been a direct contributor to their positive morale in their office area. After a long and successful career touching the lives of students and co-workers at SUU, Lea retired this summer.
Outstanding Male Staff Member
The Network Systems Administrator, Randy has worked at SUU for nine years. Before that, he was a student here and earned his Bachelor of Science in Technology Education. Randy says, “As a student I loved the fact that I wasn’t just a number, my professors knew me personally. As a staff member, I love the fact that I have many, many other staff members I consider good friends.” His co-workers feel just as strongly about him and the asset he truly is for the whole University. Whether it’s a quick computer fix, a long painstaking software problem, or for just a laugh, Randy can always be counted on. He keeps so many areas and computer programs running smoothly across campus. One employee says, “Without Randy, we’d crash and burn!” Another echoes, “If we didn’t have Randy, we couldn’t do our jobs.” Randy calls himself a computer nerd: “I fix computers and servers, and also try to fix people… well… help them with their program problems, that is!” Although his hometown is Las Vegas, Nevada, he says he couldn’t imagine working anywhere else but SUU.
Classified Staff - Distinguished Service
Secretary to the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dianne is known across campus to be a particularly dedicated and hardworking employee who truly cares about SUU. She has demonstrated professionalism and teamwork at SUU for the past 20 years. She is responsible for and accomplishes a tremendous amount: she assists the Dean on the curriculum committee and the faculty development grant committee; she is the assistant director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service; and she is advisor to the student chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honor society of political science. In 2004, she was recognized by the national office of Pi Sigma Alpha as one of the Best Advisors of the Year. She has continued to work effectively through many personal trials in her life, especially recently, and always has a sweet smile on her face as she asks others how they are. Dianne’s positive contributions to the University these past two decades will inarguably endure and benefit SUU for many more years to come.
Professional Staff - Distinguished Service
Academic Advisor and Testing Coordinator in SUU’s Student Success Center, Blaine epitomizes exceptional service--to the University, the community, his profession, and students. With a master’s degree in counseling, Blaine tutors, mentors, guides and advises students with deep caring and sincerity, especially those who are undeclared. He also oversees the southern Utah site of the administration of several national tests (like the GRE, the MCAT and PRAXIS series) for hundreds of students from throughout the region each year; most of this task is performed outside of his regular work week. He is a consummate professional with high ethical standards and meticulous attention to detail. His testing center audits are always stellar, thus SUU receives the highest ratings, too. He tutors on the job, and also in the community as a volunteer. Also active in Iron County Sherriff Search and Rescue, (he is a past commander), Blaine is a selfless server to the many individuals he comes in contact with each day.