Top Teachers

Meet three SCU professors who received University awards for teaching excellence and curriculum innovations.

“Biochemistry made fun? No way! At least that is what I thought until I met Dr. Linda Brunauer,” wrote George Kallingal ’02 in his nomination letter for this year’s winner of the Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence.

The award is one of two that is sponsored by the Brutocao Family Foundation, which represents an extended family that, over the past 40 years, has had 20 members graduate from SCU. Dr. Rudolf Brutocao ’74, a 2002 recipient of the SCU Alumni Association’s Ignatian Award and manager of the foundation, says the family loves SCU and is very proud of its association with it.

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Linda Brunauer (center), the 2003 winner of the Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence, says, "I derive an enormous amount of satisfaction from having the opportunity to work closely with so many bright, motivated students."

The Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence

Established in 1987, the Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence is Santa Clara’s highest award for teaching. The award is designed to recognize those teachers who have had a deep and lasting impact on the lives of students. It is a unique honor because the nominations don’t come from faculty or administrators. They come from students and alumni, the very people who have been touched by these top teachers.

The 2003 winner, Linda Brunauer, joined the University in 1988, and teaches both upper- and lower-division chemistry courses. She also conducts research with students and serves as an adviser to students in the Chemistry Club. In numerous nomination letters from students and alumni, Brunauer is cited as the inspiration for going into science and medicine as a career, an outstanding role model for women, and a creative, approachable, and engaged teacher who makes learning enjoyable.

Brunauer says she was “surprised, amazed, and very, very honored” to be selected. “This has definitely been one of the high points of my career,” she adds. “I’ve wanted to teach since I was a kid,” she explains, pointing to many “absolutely amazing teachers” she had through the years who inspired her.

Brunauer says she loves teaching at Santa Clara. “I derive an enormous amount of satisfaction from having the opportunity to work closely with so many bright, motivated students,” she says.

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Henry Demmert
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Accounting and finance Professor Steven Wade, right, speaks with student John Von Dollen. Wade was honored for curriculum innovation.

The Brutocao Family Foundation Award for Curriculum Innovation

Established in 1992, the Brutocao Family Foundation Award for Curriculum Innovation honors faculty members who have brought to the classroom new approaches to teaching and learning and whose ideas and innovations can be applied by colleagues in their teaching.

he 2003 winners are Henry Demmert, economics, and Steven Wade, accounting and finance, who created a freshman-level business course, Contemporary American Business. In his nomination letter, business school dean Barry Posner called the course “the foundation of all undergraduate coursework in the School of Business.” The course, he wrote, “exposes freshmen to the essential concepts and vocabulary of the world of business.”

Perhaps the most unique and effective aspect of this course is that Demmert and Wade recruited retired business executives to teach it, including Bob Finocchio ’73, former CEO and chairman of Informix and 3Com, Kevin Walsh, former senior vice president at Sun Microsystems, and Barbara Kamm, former senior vice president of Silicon Valley Bank. (Wade, who spent 20 years in business before coming to teach at SCU, also teaches a section of the course.) Though they use the same textbook across the sections, the executives have plenty of freedom to be creative in how they conduct their classes. According to Posner, the faculty meets often to discuss course material, classroom challenges, and guest speakers, which helps improve all sections of the course.

Wade and Demmert say the Brutocao award was a validation of their efforts to create something different and effective. “I was very pleased because the course was an experiment in many ways,” says Wade. “Those of us involved in developing and teaching it were convinced that the experiment was a success and we are glad the University shares our belief.”

Demmert agrees. “I was surprised but also very gratified when I found that Steve and I had won the Brutocao,” he says, adding that he believes the course “has made genuine contributions to the education of our undergraduate business students, not just in the subject area but also by allowing our freshman to interact with high-level business executives right from the get-go.”

The two have something else in common. When asked, “What is the best thing about teaching at SCU?,” they both reply, “The students.”

“After 35 years in the classroom, I still think that is the best part of my job,” adds Demmert.

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