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Five to be honored with 2013 Chancellor's Citations

James T. Spencer, Meredith Professor of Chemistry and associate dean for science, mathematics and research is among those honored

Feb 28, 2013 — Article by: SU News Services

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Five Syracuse University faculty and staff members will receive the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence at a campus ceremony and reception in their honor on Monday, April 1.

The 2013 Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence honorees are:

  • Luvenia Cowart, professor of practice in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics;
  • Edward L. Galvin, director of Archives and Records Management and Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster archivist;
  • James T. Spencer, Meredith Professor of Chemistry and associate dean for science, mathematics and research in The College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Raja Velu, professor of managerial statistics and JPMorgan Chase Faculty Fellow in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management; and
  • Marion Wilson, associate professor of art, design and transmedia in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and director of community initiatives in the visual arts in the School of Education.

The Chancellor’s Citation awards were first presented in 1979 in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and creative work. Over time, the focus of the awards has changed to reflect new priorities and institutional directions. The emphasis on excellence and outstanding achievement remains unchanged. Each year, members of the University community are invited to nominate a colleague or co-worker for recognition. A selection committee composed of faculty and staff from across campus reviews the nominations, and award winners are honored each spring.

All five honorees will receive a special art object, along with a citation statement recognizing his or her accomplishments. Information about all of the honorees is available on the Syracuse University News website.

James T. Spencer

James T. Spencer

James T. Spencer

“If there were truly a modern manifestation of a Renaissance man on the Syracuse University campus, Dr. Jim Spencer should have his picture by the definition,” says a cross-disciplinary group of faculty members who nominated Spencer for the Chancellor’s Citation, citing his “outstanding scholarship, superlative teaching, extensive community engagement and commitment to the University community.”

Spencer is a professor of chemistry and a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence in The College of Arts and Sciences, where he is also associate dean of science, mathematics and research. His research interests involve the exploration and application of new compounds to a variety of technological problems, and the creation of materials that have unique capabilities.  These materials are critical candidates for use in next-generation photocells and as solid state sensors and detectors of particular interest to forensic and national security applications. His work in cluster photochemistry has also helped scientists to understand the forces holding molecular cluster molecules together. He was awarded the “Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science” award in recognition of his seminal research work in main group chemistry. He is also a member of the New York Academy of Science and the American Academy of Forensic Science.

Colleagues describe Spencer as a “passionate, dedicated and gifted teacher,” and his classes are among the most popular at SU. He conceived and created the concept of Integrated Learning Programs in The College of Arts and Sciences, integrating traditional undergraduate majors with those focused in applied areas. He also created the SU Project Advance Forensics Program, which has become the single largest course that SUPA offers, with more than 2,200 students and nearly 200 teachers involved annually. He has also written the definitive textbook and lab manual in introductory forensic science (due out this fall).

In his vital outreach to younger students, he has lectured to more than 20,000 high school students in the past decade in more than 200 different high schools about the excitement of scientific creativity and discovery. Spencer has worked with the “Pulse of the Planet” radio program to help excite children about science. The program broadcasts nationally, including on NPR and other stations, to more than 1 million listeners weekly. Besides the Meredith Professorship, Spencer has also won the Excellence in Teaching Award from SU’s University College.

Spencer founded and developed the University’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI), joining the issues of forensic science with national security science. The institute, for which Spencer currently serves as executive director, now encompasses 15 core faculty members and faculty fellows, nearly 100 researchers, six corporate partners, four colleges on campus, numerous graduate students and more than two dozen course offerings. He has recently served as the principal investigator, with three other faculty members, on a $912,000 National Institutes of Justice grant in forensic science.

Spencer has served in numerous leadership roles at SU, including interim director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program; director of the SU Soling Program; chair of the Faculty Council, Senate Research Committee and A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee. He also serves as liaison for the Goldwater Foundation and the Astronaut Foundation for the University. Since Spencer took over the organization of these scholarships, the University has doubled the rate of students receiving these prestigious and highly competitive awards. He also founded the first National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award in Chemistry at SU and played an integral role in designing and implementing Mayfest: A Celebration of Study, Creativity and Discovery for its first five years.

Spencer’s contributions to the University also extend into the arts at SU. He is the founder and director of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble, an ensemble within The College of Arts and Sciences, that is a group of 35 accomplished brass and percussion musicians comprised of SU faculty, staff and students; the State University of New York Upstate Medical University faculty and staff; and musicians from Upstate New York communities. The SU Brass performs annually at the SU Commencement, for the annual “Holidays at Hendricks” concert that is broadcast on WCNY, and has twice placed first nationally in the North American Brass Band Association’s Festival.

“Jim is a gifted and sought-out teacher, a nationally known researcher and an inspired leader who has wholeheartedly put forward the good of the University and the greater community,” his nominators say, “Dr. Spencer’s creativity, leadership, organizational skills, focus on innovation and excellence, coupled with the highest integrity, showcase not only the best in the Scholarship in Action ethos, but in the University community.”

Contact Information

Judy Holmes
315-443-8085
jlholmes@syr.edu