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Chris Kitts working with two students in the Robotics Lab.

Chris Kitts working with two students in the Robotics Lab.

Top Teaching Scholars for 2018

Faculty honored for outstanding contributions in teaching, research, and service.

Faculty honored for outstanding contributions in teaching, research, and service. 

With the new school year right around the corner, Santa Clara University took one more opportunity to look back on the 2017–18 academic year. On September 11, President Michael Engh, S.J. and Provost Dennis C. Jacobs celebrated the achievements of Santa Clara’s faculty with an award ceremony on campus. Here are this year’s winners.

Award for Sustained Excellence in Scholarship

Yongtae Kim, Accounting

Yongtae Kim received the University’s highest award for scholarly achievement for his dedicated and prolific scholarship on important issues in accounting and finance.

Yongtae Kim

Yongtae Kim

His research ranges from earnings management and voluntary disclosure to corporate social responsibility, equity offerings, auditing, and venture capital. In particular, his work regarding opportunistic financial reporting behavior has contributed to both academic literature and practice, helping regulators better understand the motives of firms engaging in earnings management. 

Kim has presented around the world—from Canada to China, the Czech Republic to Hong Kong—while authoring more than 25 articles. He was a two-time Moskowitz Research Prize honorable mention, as well as a two-time Hong Kong Government General Research Grant and four-time PwC research grant recipient. Kim’s scholarship is not just impactful, but aligns with the mission of Santa Clara: displaying that socially responsible firms also behave in a responsible manner, delivering more transparent and reliable financial information to investors.


Presidential Special Recognition Award

Patti Simone, Psychology

Patti Simone

Patti Simone

Patti Simone has worked tirelessly on behalf of her students and department, spearheading the new undergraduate major and interdisciplinary program in neuroscience.

With the support of fellow colleagues Christelle Sabatier, Craig Stephens, Eric Tillman, and Sally Wood, this new major represents a prime example of how crossdisciplinary convergence—spanning molecular biology, behavioral psychology, anatomy, and more—can yield new insights and important breakthroughs. Her vision and dedication has already had impressive results, with the neuroscience major yielding the 11th-most-declared majors at SCU in just its second year.


The Brutocao Family Foundation Award for Curriculum Innovation

Chris Kitts, Mechanical Engineering

Chris Kitts holds many titles, from endowed faculty member and director for the Robotics Systems Lab at Santa Clara University, to the director for the Silicon Valley Center for Robotic Exploration and Space Technologies at NASA—to name a few. But equally impressive is his work in curriculum development.

Kitts has led significant revisions to courses as well as creating a number of new courses by himself, including Smart Product Design, Space Systems I & II, Satellite Operations Lab, and special topics courses like Mobile Multi-Robot Systems. He has also worked with faculty across the University to create courses that expose engineering students to entrepreneurial topics.

His innovation has been felt at the macro level as well, creating the robotics and mechatronic systems technical area for the M.S. in mechanical engineering degree and helping create the design thinking pathway, which is chosen by 40 percent of undergraduate students. Most recently, he crafted the innovation, design, and entrepreneurship minor, which has been declared by approximately a dozen students only a year after being introduced.


Louis and Dorina Brutocao Awards for Teaching Excellence

Lisa Whitfield, Psychology

Lisa Whitfield has been called the MVP of her department by fellow professors. A fixture in introductory psychology classes, Whitfield is credited by current students and alumni as inspiration for entering the field.

Lisa Whitfield

Lisa Whitfield

She brings an energy and enthusiasm that directly engages each individual student. Her teaching style includes more conversation and questions than lectures, delivering complex concepts that have real world connections.

Her mentorship extends beyond the classroom. Whitfield has engaged in research with 30 students in recent years and is happy to meet with students and advisees as they navigate a class, a college issue, or a career decision. She is not only the faculty representative for the department’s honor society, but a tireless mentor and can be found on campus five days a week and evenings too.

Brian Buckley, Philosophy

Brian Buckley has a reputation for making thinkers, helping students learn to self-analyze and question. He brings energy to the classroom and his department, engaging students with enthusiasm.

Brian Buckley

Brian Buckley

Though presenting conceptually complex material and expecting high-level results, Buckley challenges students to awaken their minds and ignites in them a passion for learning. Combining concepts of intellectual curiosity, existentialism, and ethics in his courses, he teaches students to make confident life decisions.

Buckley has helped the department grow, shepherding a stream of new majors and minors since he began in 2007. In addition to teaching, he also directs the University’s Pre-Law Advising program and was recently appointed the first faculty coordinator for the newly launched Arts & Humanities Salon program. In 2016 he chaired the department’s Curriculum Committee which was tasked with a complete overhaul of course offerings and majors.


Award for Recent Achievement in Scholarship

George Cai, Information Systems and Analytics

Through his scholarly and creative work, George Cai has offered a major contribution to the fields of operations management, marketing interface, and supply chain finance during the past five years.

George Cai

George Cai

Since joining SCU in 2012, Cai has published more than 12 refereed journal papers—five in top tier journals. His growing reputation has led to invitations to be both an associate editor for a premier field publication in 2013 and a senior editor for another top level journal in 2015.

Cai has won multiple scholarly awards, such as the Shanghai Outstanding Paper Award in social sciences and the Outstanding Associate Editor Award of Decision Sciences Journal. He was ranked No. 4 on the list of the most prominent retailing authors worldwide between 2009 and 2015 by Emerald Publishing. His external research grants have totaled more than $1 million, a very rare achievement for business faculty.


Francisco Jiménez Inclusive Excellence Award

Harry Odamtten, History

Harry Odamtten

Harry Odamtten

Harry Odamtten’s work demonstrates a strong and effective commitment to issues of social justice and excellence through diversity and inclusion.

Odamtten excels as a mentor, role model, and teacher on campus. He has also enriched leaders outside of the SCU community by developing a new speaker series.

He has worked tirelessly to promote inclusion in ways that truly speak to students, using a variety of methods to invite and challenge them to better understand themselves and others as members of a multicultural community.


Faculty Senate Professor

Pat Hoggard, Chemistry

Since coming to Santa Clara in 1991, Pat Hoggard has been an extraordinary researcher: publishing 113 articles in peer-reviewed journals, conducting more than 40 talks at national conferences, and serving as principal investigator in more than 14 competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the American Chemical Society, totalling more than $900,000 in funding.

Hoggard has fostered an environment where other researchers in the department have flourished by offering to share funding and equipment, and collaborating with colleagues. He has designed innovative courses like Chemistry in the Ancient World. In the classroom, he is an inspirational teacher who is known for his rendition of “The Element Song,” accompanied by a ukelele.


Presidential Special Recognition Award

The Committee on Lecturers and Adjuncts

The Committee on Lecturers and Adjuncts has influenced University policies and practices on behalf of lecturers and adjunct faculty at Santa Clara for many years. Members of this group have been instrumental in helping University leadership understand and develop responses to the important concerns of SCU lecturers and adjunct faculty. This committee includes Barbara Kelly, Margaret McLean, Karen Peterson-Iyer, Tracy Ruscetti, Christelle Sabatier, John Farnsworth, Jes Kuczenski, Diane Dreher, Kitty Murphy, and Don Davis.

These individuals were also responsible for many significant changes: 

  • Replacing the “six year rule”
  • Limiting the length of full-time employment by lecturers
  • Participating in the creation of guidelines for the evaluation of lecturers
  • Working with Faculty Development to create resources for new and continuing lecturers, including an online lecturer resource guide
  • Hosting lunches, information sessions, and meet-and-greet events for all levels of lecturers and adjuncts
  • Encouraging the administration to accelerate the timeline for AYAL reappointment
  • Working through SCU’s collaborative governance process to establish a task force on lecturer best practices

New endowed faculty:

  • Aldo Billingslea—William J. Rewak, S.J., Professor, Theater and Dance
  • Laura Ellingson—Patrick A. Donohoe, S.J., Professor, Communication/ Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Amelia Fuller—John Nobili, S.J., Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • David Gray—Bernard J. Hanley Professor, Religious Studies
  • Kerry Macintosh—Inez Mabie Professor, Law
  • Shannon Vallor—Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor, Philosophy

Faculty promoted to professor:

  • Kathy Aoki, Art and Art History
  • George Cai, Information Systems and Analytics
  • Colleen Chien, Law
  • David Gray, Religious Studies

Faculty who received tenure:

  • Paul Abbyad, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Yi Fang, Computer Engineering
  • Tony Hazard, Ethnic Studies
  • Christian Helmers, Economics
  • Seoyoung Kim, Finance
  • Tao Li, Information Systems and Analytics
  • Brian Love, Law
  • Bill Lu, Bioengineering
  • Takeshi Moro, Art and Art History
  • Alberto Ribas-Casasayas, Modern Languages
  • Bruno Ruviaro, Music
  • Hisham Said, Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering
  • Panthea Sepehrband, Mechanical Engineering
  • Savannah Shi, Marketing
  • Fr. Anh Tran, Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley 

Five faculty members were promoted to senior lecturer for their superior teaching and commitment to students:

  • Cary Watson, Counseling Psychology
  • Renee Billingslea, Art and Art History
  • William Dohar, Religious Studies
  • Teresa Ruscetti, Biology
  • Lisa Whitfield, Psychology

Twenty-five years of continuous service:

  • Glenn Appleby, Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Patti Simone, Psychology
  • Elsa Li, Modern Languages and Literatures
  • Bob Hendershott, Finance
  • Alex Zecevic, Electrical Engineering
  • Barbara Fraser, Theater and Dance



Features, Top Stories

Chris Kitts (right) received The Brutocao Family Foundation Award for Curriculum Innovation.