Hamilton College’s highest awards for teaching were presented to four faculty members during the annual Class & Charter Day ceremony on May 12. Associate Professor of Russian Franklin Sciacca was honored with the Christian A. Johnson Professorship for Excellence in Teaching; Associate Professor of Music Rob Hopkins was awarded the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching; Assistant Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe was honored with the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award; and Nathan Goodale, assistant professor of anthropology, received the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award. Professor of History Doug Ambrose was named recipient of Student Assembly’s Sidney Wertimer Award.
Franklin Sciacca, The Christian A. Johnson Professorship for Excellence in Teaching
Sciacca, who has been a faculty member at Hamilton since 1984, earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree from Columbia University.
Sciacca has lectured extensively on iconography and Russian churches, and contributed articles to Slavic Review, Journal of Slavic and East European Arts, and Ulbandus Review. His ongoing research interests are the Pochaev Monastery – the cultural politics of Right Bank Ukraine, iconography of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and recent canonizations in the Russian Orthodox churches.
Sciacca and Professor of Biology David Gapp were instrumental in creating the 1812 Garden for Hamilton’s Bicentennial in 2012. It was a recreation of an early 19th century Central New York kitchen garden that offered historical and cultural perspectives on sustainability. Sciacca and Gapp teach Food for Thought: The Science, Culture and Politics of Food, an interdisciplinary exploration of food. Sciacca is the co-leader of the Slow Food Central New York-Leatherstocking Chapter.
The Christian A. Johnson Professorship for Excellence in Teaching was created in 1990 through the generosity of the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation and the extended Hamilton community. This endowed chair which recognizes exceptional commitment and interest in undergraduate education represents one of the College's most prestigious honors.
Rob Hopkins, the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Hopkins is the 14th recipient of the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which is given annually to a senior, tenured faculty member. It is presented on the basis of superior teaching and for having a significant and positive impact on students. The fund was established by Helen Lang, the mother of Michael C. Lang, class of 1967.
Hopkins earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in music history and theory from the University of Pennsylvania.
His dissertation provided the basis for his book, Closure and Mahler’s Music (1990). Hopkins’ research interests include the evolution of the barbershop quartet style of singing, analysis of codas in the works of 19th-century composers, and changes in sonata form in instrumental works during the nineteenth century.
At Hamilton he teaches courses in music history, theory, and perception of music.
Hopkins is also very active in the Barbershop Harmony Society (SPEBSQSA, Inc.), which he served as president in 2004-2005. He performs in his barbershop quartet and directs a barbershop chorus. Several of his arrangements have been published by the Barbershop Harmony Society.
A student who nominated him for the award wrote “although he is a music professor by description, he is an interdisciplinary thought-provoker in conversation … With (Hopkins), there is the feeling of a limitless environment, where each and every one of us feels naturally in the mind of a scholar, and all questions and comments will be heard and addressed before class ends with no last-minute strings to tie.”
Another wrote, “Even though Prof. Hopkins gives the impression of a poised and thoughtful college professor, he never fails to impact the whole class with his contagious expressions of emotion, like a hearty laugh when listening to the music he loves, almost like a kid who gets excited about his newly acquired toys.”
Adam Van Wynsberghe, The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award
The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1998 by Alfrederic S. Hatch, a 1958 Hamilton graduate, in memory of his father, who graduated from Hamilton in 1925. It supports an annual prize for a tenure-track faculty member who has been employed by the college for fewer than five years, and who has demonstrated superior teaching, high-quality scholarly research and significant and positive impact on students.
Adam W. Van Wynsberghe joined Hamilton in 2009 after two years at the University of California-San Diego where he was a NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellow.
He received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2001 and was a NSF pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he completed his Ph.D. in biophysics in 2007.
Van Wynsberghe’s research interests center around the use of theoretical and computational techniques to study biophysical problems from both basic and applied perspectives. Currently, he is investigating the nature of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions, the origins and roles of conformational changes and dynamics in biomolecular systems, and the dynamical aspects of enzyme catalysis.
A student who nominated him wrote of Van Wynsberghe, “In addition to being a great thinker who is committed to doing great science, is also always focused on helping students reach their potential, however that may come about.”
Nathan Goodale, The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award
Nathan Goodale earned his B.A. in geology and anthropology from Western State College, his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Montana, and his Ph.D. in anthropology from Washington State University.
Last summer Goodale led 11 students from Hamilton College, Western Connecticut College and Selkirk College in a six-week intensive archaeology field immersion course in the prehistory, history, ethnography and language of the indigenous peoples of the interior Pacific Northwest. The bi-annual program has been directed by Goodale since 2007 at the Slocan Narrows Housepit Village in southeastern British Columbia.
A student nominator wrote, “It was in his introductory class that I fell in love with archaeology, due in no small part to his infectious enthusiasm and expertise."
Goodale conducts research in the interior Northwest of North America, western coastal Ireland, and the Near East. Research emphases include modeling human behavior with quantitative methods, lithic technological organization, and evolutionary approaches to understanding variation in material culture as a byproduct of human behavior and knowledge transmission.
Douglas Ambrose, The Sidney Wertimer Award
Ambrose, a professor at Hamilton since 1990, holds a Ph.D. in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
His teaching and research interests include early America, the Old South, and American religious history. Ambrose's publications include Henry Hughes and Proslavery Thought in the Old South (LSU 1996) and The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America's Most Elusive Founding Father (NYU 2006), a volume he co-edited with Hamilton colleague Robert W. T. Martin. He has also written numerous articles, book reviews and encyclopedia entries about Southern slavery and Southern intellectual life. Ambrose is a recipient of the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Hamilton’s Student Assembly initiated the Wertimer Award in 2005 in memory of the late Sidney Wertimer, professor of economics emeritus, who died in February, 2005. The award recognizes a faculty member “who is recognized as a mentor and active participant within the Hamilton community.”