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Hamilton College Teaching Awards Presented to Chemistry, French Professors

By staff  |  Contact staff
Posted May 8, 1998
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Hamilton College's highest awards for teaching were presented today to a bioinorganic chemist and a linguist who teaches French.

Timothy Elgren, assistant professor of chemistry, was named the inaugural recipient of "The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award," and Joseph Mwantuali, assistant professor of French, was presented with "The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award." The recognition took place at Hamilton's annual Class and Charter Day celebration, an annual convocation recognizing student and faculty excellence during the preceding academic year.

Hamilton College President Eugene M. Tobin called the recipients, "models of what teaching can and should be. These awards reaffirm the singular importance of excellence in undergraduate teaching at Hamilton."

Timothy Elgren, Chemistry

John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award

Timothy Elgren came to Hamilton in 1993, after a year teaching at Knox College in Illinois. He received his bachelor's degree in 1984 from Hamline University and his Ph.D. in 1989 from Dartmouth College. From 1990 to 1992, he was a postdoctoral fellow in inorganic biochemistry at the University of Minnesota.

His research focuses on the biological role of metal ions. Elgren has received awards and external funding to support his research from the National Institutes of Health, The American Chemical Society, the Research Corporation and The National Science Foundation. His work has been published in numerous scientific journals -- often with students as co-authors -- and he has been invited to present papers and posters at several national symposia.

This summer, with the help of a Class of 1966 Career Development Award, he will develop investigative laboratory projects that will better equip students with the intellectual and experimental skills to facilitate their transition from the instructional laboratory to the research laboratory.

Just as important as the research itself is Elgren's involvement of students in his work. "Students who have the privilege of working collaboratively with Professor Elgren are involved in cutting-edge research," said Dean of the Faculty Bobby Fong, "and there may be no better learning environment that we can offer our students."

In nominating Elgren for the award, students cited his "enthusiasm," "passion" and "excitement" for his work. "It is easy to feel his enthusiasm towards chemistry," one student wrote, "and the love and excitement he brings to teaching."

Another student said, "I learned to think and work independently -- to propose questions to myself and to use the chemistry I learned in my classes to formulate possible solutions. ..."

"The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award" was established earlier this year 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 a significant and positive impact on students.

Joseph Mwantuali, French

Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award

Joseph Mwantuali joined the Hamilton faculty in 1995, after completing his Ph.D. in French at The Pennsylvania State University. He also received a master's degree in community economic development from New Hampshire College and both a master's degree and a bachelor's degree in French and African linguistics from the University of Zaire. His bachelor's degree was awarded magna cum laude with honors in teaching French.

Throughout much of the 1980s, prior to coming to the United States, Mwantuali served as a teacher, trainer and language coordinator at the U.S. Peace Corps Training Centers in Zaire and Burundi.

The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award adds to an impressive list of awards Mwantuali has received for his teaching. In 1993, he was named the Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year for the Department of French at Penn State. He also was named the Outstanding Language Teacher at the Peace Corps Training Center in Bukavu, Zaire, in 1986, the Outstanding Student Teacher at the University of Zaire in 1980, and the Outstanding Student Teacher at the College St. Charles Louanga in Watsa, Zaire, in 1977.

"In every setting and in different capacities, Professor Mwantuali has demonstrated that he is a teacher of the finest order," said Dean Fong. "This award represents Hamilton's opportunity to recognize the many ways Joseph enriches our campus and our students."

In nominating Mwantuali for the award, a student wrote: "His high standards, ability to communicate with students inside as well as outside the classroom, and his energetic and enthusiastic approach to teaching fully demonstrate his commitment to teaching and learning. Professor Mwantuali's students learn how to think at higher levels, formulate and express ideas clearly, and have fun with the literature in which they engage. ... He encompasses the intellectual, educational and personal ideals on which Hamilton stands."

Another student said, "I am continually impressed by his passion, depth of knowledge of his subject area and desire to push students to their intellectual limits."

The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Awar

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