Academics and Research

Convocation awards will recognize faculty excellence

The University of Denver prizes research that benefits the public good and teaching that transforms the lives of students. Purposeful research and inspired teaching are celebrated each year with an awards presentation at the fall Convocation ceremony, scheduled this year for Thursday, Oct. 2, in Magness Arena.

In addition to Haider Khan, recipient of the 2013–14 John Evans Professorship, other awardees at this year’s Convocation are:

History Professor Susan Schulten, known for her work on the political, cultural and social landscapes of 19th-century America, will be recognized as the 2014–15 University Lecturer.

Schulten’s second book, “Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth Century America” (University of Chicago Press) has earned both popular and scholarly acclaim. Now in paperback, “Mapping the Nation” received the 2012 Norris and Carol Hundley Award from the American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch (AHA-PCB). Given for the most distinguished book on any historical subject by a scholar in the American or Canadian west, the award is the highest honor bestowed by the AHA-PCB.

In addition to her scholarly publications, Schulten is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ “Disunion” series, which explores topics related to the Civil War.

“Dr. Schulten is remarkable in how she has engaged the general public in her work,” Rob Roberts, former interim dean of the Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, wrote in a letter nominating her for the honor. “Her ‘Disunion’ essays in the New York Times, presentations to public groups, exhibits in museums and libraries, and interviews on radio and television have made her work available to a wide audience. She’s an exemplary model for how academics can engage the public in the excitement and wonder involved in the pursuit of new knowledge.”

For her part, Schulten relishes the opportunity to pursue and share new knowledge.

“I’m honored by this award and the trust that it represents, and I’m grateful for the many ways the University has supported my work over the past 18 years,” she says.


Phoenix Cai, associate professor at the Sturm College of Law, will be presented with the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

A member of the law faculty since 2005, Cai teaches in the fields of international law, international trade, international sales and property law. She is director of the college’s Roche LLM in International Business Transactions, which trains both U.S. and foreign lawyers in private transactional law.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award, especially because the law school has so many dedicated and gifted teachers,” Cai says. “To me, teaching is joy and empathy: joy in mastery and learning, and empathy with students to enable them to find that joy. This I learned at the age of 11 from Dr. Harold Hill, a professor of Chinese literature who tutored my family in English when we first moved to the United States. Dr. Hill, a lifelong friend and mentor, loved teaching and did so with expansive humor and inexhaustible kindness. To him, I owe every debt.”


Christina Kreps, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, will receive the Distinguished Scholar Award. Kreps is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in museum studies. She directs the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology and the anthropology department’s museum and heritage studies graduate program. Her 2003 book, “Liberating Culture: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Museums, Curation, and Heritage Preservation,” was hailed by one reviewer as “a landmark of critical and creative scholarship; a trailblazer in museum studies.”

In a letter nominating Kreps for the award, Dean Saitta, professor and chair of the anthropology department, wrote that “Christina brings great passion for public scholarship and community outreach to these roles. Christina’s notion of museum work as ‘humanitarian aid’ is gaining great traction within the museum world. It has produced many conference speaking invitations at home and abroad. Most recently, Christina spent her sabbatical in spring 2013 in England, where she worked on her ‘Museums in the Age of Engagement’ book project, lectured at the universities of Oxford and Newcastle, and mentored graduate students at the University of Leicester and University College London.”

“This award acknowledges the value of publically engaged anthropology, and my scholarly and professional contributions to the museum field,” Kreps says. “I am grateful to the University for its support and this recognition.”


Lavita Nadkarni, professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP), will receive the United Methodist Church, University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. In her letter nominating Nadkarni for the honor, GSPP Dean Shelly Smith-Acuna noted that Nadkarni, who also serves as director of forensic studies at GSPP, “recently co-authored a text on forensic report writing at the invitation of American Psychological Association Books that is quickly becoming the standard reference in the field. She also edited and wrote chapters for the Handbook of Multicultural Counseling Competencies, another text that is seen as the premier resource on the topic. Her academic scholarship addresses substantive issues in our field in a way that is accessible and directly improves graduate level education.

“[Nadkarni] also has a stellar reputation as a teacher and supervisor,” Smith-Acuna wrote. “Because our graduate programs focus on practice-based training, Dr. Nadkarni teaches didactic courses and also supervises the clinical work of our students. She is excellent at forming relationships with students, and her investment in their professional and personal development is the foundation for her highly regarded supervision. Dr. Nadkarni’s exceptional skill as a practicing forensic psychologist further impacts her scholarship and teaching, and contributes greatly to our department. She is well known and regarded by judges, attorneys, and correctional officials, and she uses her relationships with all of these professionals to advance the education and career development of our students.”


Martin Garnar, an adjunct faculty member in the Library and Information Science Program (LIS) in the Morgridge College of Education, will receive the Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award.

In their nomination letter, Karen Riley, dean at the Morgridge College of Education, and Mary Stansbury, chair of the research methods and information science department, wrote that Garnar is “first and foremost an exceptional professional librarian. He is nationally recognized for his work in the areas of intellectual freedom and professional ethics, both of which are key concepts in this program and serve as a foundation for the profession.

“Engaging students in class discussion can be challenging, particularly for adjunct faculty as they have less interaction with the students,” Riley and Stansbury noted. “As emblematic of his commitment to teaching and to students in general, Martin works with those students individually, helping them find ways to be comfortable and confident articulating and contributing their views and knowledge.”

“I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to give back to my profession by teaching future librarians,” Garnar says. “To have my work recognized in this way is both humbling and gratifying.”


Charles “Chip” Reichardt, professor in the Department of Psychology, will receive the Faculty Service Award for his work on two key faculty documents: the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (APT) document and the Faculty Grievance document.

“The award reaffirms the importance of the revision of the APT document,” Reichardt says. “Awarding multi-year contracts to nontenure line faculty and changing the title of lecturer to teaching professor are two of the fundamental changes being proposed. It is heartening to know the faculty supports these changes and welcomes efforts to keep the APT document up to date.”



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