Top teaching scholars

Kicking off the year with the Faculty Recognition Dinner in September.

One of the celebrations that kicks off each academic year is the Faculty Recognition Dinner in September, which honors research, teaching, and service to the University. Here are this year’s honorees.

Sustained Excellence in Scholarship

Hersh M. Shefrin is both SCU’s most prolific sage in finance and a leading authority in the field of behavioral finance, a subject he and colleague Meir Statman pioneered. Shefrin writes for scholars and businessfolk as well as the rest of us, and he has more than 60 books and articles to his name since arriving at SCU in 1979. Among them: Beyond Greed and Fear and Ending the Management Illusion. He holds the Mario L. Belotti Chair in the Department of Finance, has had his work translated into 17 languages, and he is regularly cited in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence

Professor of Chemistry Brian J. McNelis receives consistently high praise from students in the classroom, despite the fact that he teaches a required course that many students approach with fear and trembling. But it’s alumni and current students who submit nominations for the Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award, which honors faculty who have made a difference in students’ lives. One student noted that he went from “completely lost” at the outset to “flourishing” under McNelis’ guidance and called it “one of the most profound transformations I have ever undergone.” McNelis has also been a driving force behind the new major in biochemistry.

Recent Achievement in Scholarship
Michelle Oberman
Photo: Charles Barry

Since Professor Michelle Oberman joined the law faculty in 2004, she has made significant contributions, both legal and ethical, to her overlapping field of study where health and criminal law merge in cases pertaining to adolescence, pregnancy, and motherhood. She is perhaps the nation’s leading expert on how the law regulates the harm parents may do to their children. Her 2008 book, When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison,won the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Science. “Remarkable” and “inspiring” are words colleagues use to describe her work.

Brutocao Family Foundation Award for Curriculum Innovation

Longtime professor and founder of the Department of Computer Engineering in 1988, Daniel W. Lewis has recently turned his focus to expanding the engineering and computing opportunities for K-12 students. In the last six years, Lewis has raised just over $1.7 million to professionally train more than 225 teachers who, in turn, have already begun teaching more than 2,000 young students. He has established creative co-op and study abroad opportunities for SCU undergraduates and created numerous certificate programs for graduate students, as well as a new major in the rapidly expanding field of Web design and engineering.

President’s Special Recognition Award

President Michael EnghS.J., also honored four SCU scholars for exemplifying and promoting competence, conscience, and compassion.

Al Hammond
Allen Hammond
Photo: Charles Barry

Allen Hammond is the Phil and Bobbie Sanfilippo Chair and Professor of Law and director of the Broadband Institute of California. He has worked on all sides of telecommunications law, first as an attorney for the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy, then as general counsel for an ABC affiliate, finally settling down in academics. Hammond was recognized not just for his experience but for bringing an honest care to his work with students and the community. He has served as vice chair of the University Council on Inclusive Excellence and helped the University establish big-picture goals and diversify its faculty. He has also helped develop a new clinical course that gives law students the opportunity to refine their skills in administrative and telecommunications law.


Leslie Gray
Leslie Gray
Photo: Charles Barry

Leslie Gray, an associate professor and executive director of the Environmental Studies Institute (ESI), has been influential in bringing environmentalism to the forefront of international social justice. At Santa Clara, she has primed ESI to soon become its own academic department with two majors. As the co-chair of the Sustainability Council and faculty leader of the Penstemon Project for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, she has been the go-to-gal put in charge of coordinating the new sustainability pathway for the new Core Curriculum. For a look at her most recent book, Hanging by a Thread: Cotton, Globalization and Poverty in Africa, see the Winter 2008 SCM.


Tim Hight
Tim Hight
Photo: Charles Barry

Tim Hight, chair of the mechanical engineering department, has exerted a profound influence in incorporating concepts of sustainability into the department. His role as faculty project manager for SCU’s two Solar Decathlon entries in 2007 and 2009 not only helped the teams net two third-place trophies, but it created a rare opportunity for students to work on the edge of modern engineering application. A beneficial by-product of his successful leadership in both Solar Decathlon competitions: national recognition of Santa Clara’s Engineering School and the revolutionary work they are doing to promote the use of clean-energy alternatives.


Alejandro Garcia-Rivera
Alejandro García-Rivera
Photo: Kevin Burke, S.J.

We end on a sorrowful note: Alejandro García-Rivera blessed both Santa Clara University and the Jesuit School of Theology with his innovative insight into theological aesthetics, award-winning teaching methods, and consistent efforts to integrate JST with SCU. He died on Dec. 13, 2010, after a long illness. Originally from Cuba and a co-founder of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, García-Rivera earned a place as one of the most respected theological scholars in Latin America and the United States. García-Rivera joined the faculty of the Jesuit School of Theology in 1993 as a professor of systematic theology. His scholarship as a theologian bridged the disciplines of science and religion. “I believe wholeheartedly that we must begin to see the interconnectedness of the world, to grasp its complexity, even if our intellectual traditions have conditioned us to seek a different type of grasping,” he said.

Jon Teel ’12

post-image Teaching, innovation, scholarship: from left, Brian J. McNelis, Daniel W. Lewis, and Hersh M. Shefrin Photo: Charles Barry
Drumroll, Please!

Santa Clara University’s renovated jazz studio gives music majors and non-majors more space to find their sound.

A Plan For Tomorrow

Santa Clara President Julie Sullivan unveils a new strategic plan, Impact 2030, with a focus on increasing access and opportunity, and, of course, SCU’s Jesuit values and Silicon Valley location.

Hoops of Hope

From pink socks to non-profit outreach, Santa Clara Women’s Basketball hosted their annual Pink Game to honor families impacted by cancer.

Flight and Food

Birds can be the key to understanding the environment and SCU students are taking a closer look.