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Professor James Wallace Receives Major Teaching Award

Professor James Wallace Receives Major Teaching Award

Mechanical engineering professor James Wallace has been named 2005 Maryland Professor of the Year by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

According to CASE, the Professor of the Year award identifies outstanding undergraduate instructors that excel as teachers and influence the lives of their students. It recognizes the impact and involvement of university faculty and the contributions teachers can provide to the institution, the community, and the profession.

Wallace, a professor in the university's A. James Clark School of Engineering, is the third University of Maryland, College Park, professor to be named Maryland professor of the Year since CASE began selecting state award winners in 1986. Previous winners from the university were Spencer Benson, associate professor of microbiology (2002) and Maynard Mack Jr., associate professor of English (1992).

A member of the University of Maryland faculty for 30 years, Wallace was honored for his outstanding undergraduate teaching in mechanical engineering and for leading the university's development of undergraduate initiatives dealing with the intersection of science, technology and society.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wallace brought together University of Maryland faculty in history, philosophy and the social sciences with faculty from engineering and the physical, computer and life sciences to develop science, technology and society (STS) curricula. This effort ultimately resulted in an STS undergraduate certificate program and provided the groundwork for two others, the College Park Scholars STS program and the Gemstone Program.

Wallace's commitment to students and the quality of their education also is evident in his participation on a university committee whose 1988 report, "Promises to Keep," formed the basis for the university's Core Liberal Arts and Sciences Study Program (CORE) that has been required of every University of Maryland undergraduate for the past 15 years.

Wallace, who was named a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher by the university in 1987, notes that in teaching engineering courses such as fluid mechanics, he seeks to both inspire and require his students to "understand the fundamental ideas, and the language and mathematical expression of those ideas, so that this knowledge will stay with them forever."

Graduate student Carlos Cruz, praised Wallace by saying, "His teaching is not solely focused on assimilation of knowledge, but more importantly on the ability to formulate a research problem, devise a strategy to solve it and analyze the results."

Professor Wallace also currently serves as the director of the university's Gemstone program. Gemstone, a unique multidisciplinary four-year research program for selected undergraduate honors students of all majors, allows students to design, direct and conduct significant research while exploring the interdependence of science, technology and society. Ryan Hoffmaster, chair of the Gemstone Student Council, cites Wallace as "as driving force in persuading me to get involved in the program outside the classroom."

CASE established the Professors of the Year program in 1981, later incorporating the Carnegie Foundation and TIAA-CREF, one of America's leading education financial services, as sponsors. This year's winners represent 40 states, Guam and the District of Columbia.

Candidates are nominated by peers from their institution and endorsed with recommendations from former students, colleagues, and academia leaders.

Wallace was honored with the other winners at an awards luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. and an evening reception at the Library of Congress with members of Congress attending.

November 15, 2005


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