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Faculty recognized for contributions to DePauw and its students

Six faculty members were honored today for their contributions to DePauw University and its students.

Fred Soster, professor of geosciences and chairman of the Geosciences Department, and Caroline B. Smith, professor of music (voice), were awarded the Mr. and Mrs. Fred C. Tucker Jr. Distinguished Career Award. It is given to faculty members who have made notable contributions to the university by their commitment to student, teaching excellence, their discipline and to university service.

President D. Mark McCoy, who announced the awards by video, said that Soster’s students “are challenged to extend themselves beyond the textbook” and that there are no places to hide in the class.” Alumni who studied under Soster reported that they were prepared for their next steps after DePauw.

Smith has been described as “a powerhouse of a teacher” by a colleague at another institution. She has performed on NPR and PBS and regularly recruits for DePauw at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

“The two of you have shaped DePauw and, indeed, the world,” McCoy said. Both Soster and Smith are retiring at the end of the month.

Dana Dudle, the Winona H. Welch professor of biology, was awarded the G. Bromley Oxnam Award for Service, which recognizes a mid-career faculty member for significant contributions to the university, the Greencastle community or the wider arena of social outreach or justice. Dudle has served in numerous department and universitywide roles, and has worked toward inclusion and social and racial justice in the STEM fields at DePauw and beyond, said Dave Berque, vice president of academic affairs.

Nahyan Fancy, professor of Middle East/comparative history, was awarded the Edwin L. Minar Jr. Award for Scholarship, which recognizes exceptional scholarly achievement. Dean of Faculty Bridget Gourley said that Fancy is noted for mentoring students and helping colleagues “contextualize their work” while also contributing to his discipline by serving on various panels and writing book reviews, book chapters and other documents. He recently was awarded an Al-Qasimi visiting professorship in Islamic studies at the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom.

Two others received the Exemplary Teaching Award: university archivist Wesley Wilson and Deepa Prakash, associate professor of political science. Gourley said a nominator noted that Wilson, who is retiring June 30, exemplifies excellence in teaching, civility and commitment to students and colleagues. Prakash is known for an active and rigorous classroom that “keeps students constantly engaged.”

During his presentation of the Tucker award, McCoy noted that “dozens of well-earned and heartfelt” nominations” were submitted for Berque, who recently was appointed vice president for academic affairs through the 2022-23 academic year after a year in which he held the position on an interim basis.

“I’m not sure we have an award that celebrates the many contributions Dr. Dave Berque has made to DePauw,” McCoy said.

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