2017 Distinguished Faculty Award Winners

During the Open Faculty Meeting on August 21st, 2017, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit presented the annual Distinguished Faculty Awards. The awards, given annually since 2007, highlight exceptional faculty accomplishments. The honorees (listed below) receive a $4,000 stipend for Excellence in Teaching awards and a $3,000 stipend for Excellence in Service and Excellence in Professional Achievement awards.


Teaster Baird

Federico Ardila - federico@sfsu.edu

Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenure/Tenure-track Faculty):

Prof. Federico Ardila has received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dr. Ardila is an effective and admired teacher, a prolific scholar, and a tireless contributor to the department, university, and student development on an international stage and the global mathematics profession. Dr. Ardila’s accomplishments as a teacher are multifaceted and include his work in the classroom, his mentoring activities, and his educational outreach beyond SF State.

Prof. Ardila's teaching is based on the belief that everyone can have joyful, meaningful, and empowering mathematical experiences. He seeks to create challenging, supportive, and equitable educational spaces where every participant knows that their contributions are valued and their full humanity is embraced. 

Dr. Ardila’s teaching gets consistently high praise from both students and colleagues. “By far the best professor I’ve had thus far at SFSU” is a comment in his course evaluations that gets repeated, in different words, many times over.

Prof. Ardila's ability to create rich and innovative mathematical experiences for his students relies fundamentally on a strong research program. He investigates objects in pure and applied mathematics by understanding their underlying discrete structure. Prof. Ardila has published 50 research papers, coauthoring more than 20 of them with students. He has been Invited Speaker at numerous national and international congresses and serves as Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Combinatorial Theory.

Prof. Ardila is strongly committed to helping build an increasingly diverse and equitable community of mathematicians. With that goal, he founded and directs the SFSU-Colombia Combinatorics Community since 2006, and hosts over 200 hours of graduate mathematics videos which are freely available on the internet. He also co-directs the MSRI-UP undergraduate research program for minority students in Berkeley. He has advised 40 thesis students, including 15 women and 30 members of underrepresented groups. 

For his work integrating research, teaching, and service, Prof. Ardila has received the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Diverse Issues in Higher Education Emerging Scholar Award, and the Colombian Premio Nacional de Ciencia.


Jennifer Arin

Jennifer Reck - jenreck@sfsu.edu

Excellence in Teaching Award (lecturer):

Prof. Jennifer Reck has received her B.A.in English and Sociology from University of Redland, M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dr. Reck began teaching at San Francisco State University and the Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies in 2006, after having received her doctorate degree. from UC Santa Cruz. Dr. Reck was immediately recognized as an excellent communicator and rigorous instructor. She has high expectations of students, particularly around logical argument, sensitivity to data, and clarity in written expression – all emphases of her department. Yet, in spite of her high expectations, students uniformly laud her for her teaching prowess and generosity with her time.

Over the past 11 years, Dr. Reck has taught a total of twelve different courses across three different departments (Sociology, Sexuality Studies, Child & Adolescent development).

Comments on student evaluations echo the laudatory tenor of the quantitative results. Putting aside the ubiquitous “best teacher ever” and “this is the best course I’ve ever taken at any institution” type comments, there are two categories of frequent, more specific comments. First, in every class Dr. Reck has taught, multiple students have commented on how much time and energy she spent on their learning.(1) She is the first instructor who sat down with me, went [through] my paper with me, and helped me see how I could make it better (2) She helped me turn a research project into something I hope to publish or at least use for grad school.

Outside of formal teaching, Dr. Reck has contributed significantly to the curriculum in Sociology. Along with her colleagues, she designed and implemented the Department of Sociology’s GWAR course, Sociology 300 as well as the Sociology 467 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Cultures and Society).


Felix Kury

Trevor Getz - tgetz@sfsu.edu

Excellence in Service Award:

Prof. Getz has received his B.A. in History & Anthropology from University of California, Berkeley, M.A. in History from University of Cape Town, South Africa and a Ph.D. in African History from University of London.

Prof. Trevor Getz has been a member of the faculty at SF State since 2002. He currently serves as a professor and as Chair of the Department of History. He is the author or editor of ten published books, with two more forthcoming, and a dedicated teacher.  But his greatest contribution to campus has been in the area of shared governance aimed at student success, learning, and achievement.  As chair of the Academic Senate, co-chair of the university Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee, chair of the Academic Policies Committee, Chair of the Board of the University Corporation, and dozens of other positions and committees he has worked collaboratively to advance the mission of the university, design and implement curriculum, and provide resources and support to students and employees of the university.  Most recently, he has worked actively on  projects to support curriculum redesign in departments across the university, to pilot a re-launch of the student-led Experimental College, to support the academic work of student-athletes, to bring back programs to help social science students enter the teaching credential program, and to build community engagement around issues of equity and inclusion on campus.  

In addition, Dr. Getz served on several committees in his department; Chair of Hiring committee, Chair of RTP committee, Curriculum committee, Long Range planning committee and Technology committee. He further provided significant service to his discipline and the community (both in United States and Africa) in various important roles over a period of 12 years.

In proposing Professor Getz for the Distinguished Faculty Award for Service, one of his nominators summed up the regard of his peers: "Central to Trevor’s approach is seeking common ground in what is in the best interest of the campus community. He is a spirited and convincing advocate for students and endeavors to include student voices in deliberations.​  He is a sought-after committee member, the first to volunteer, and the one who always says 'yes."  He truly exemplifies the value of service to our campus community.​" Further comments from his nominators include: (1) I rank him among the top 1% of SF State colleagues that I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with. (2) He has a unique style that blends kindness, intellect, passion, drive, and collaboration. (3) His energy, enthusiasm, understanding of his constituents, and history of providing top quality experiences for student, clearly demonstrates his ability to achieve. (4) When I think about what it means to serve the university, I think of Dr. Trevor Getz as a model, a mentor, and an inspiration.


Ryan Howell

Jonathon Stillman - stillmaj@sfsu.edu

Excellence in Professional Achievement Award:

Prof. Stillman has received his B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Oregon State University (with a 3 year stay during his Ph.D. program at Stanford University).

Professor Stillman's research centers on understanding how marine organisms respond to environmental change.  A focus is on the evolutionary adaptation of intertidal organisms to shifts in environmental variation, such as are happening with climate change.  His work has resulted in the development of a central "trade-off" hypothesis in understanding responses to global warming, namely that the organisms most tolerant to extremes in temperature are also the most susceptible to increasing intensity of those extremes (i.e., warming).   Since joining SFSU in 2005, Professor Stillman has mentored the research of over 30 graduate students and 6 postdoctoral fellows, published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals (many of which have student authors), has received over $8 million in extramural funding, has been an author on over 100 presentations at national and international meetings (most of which are with student authors), and his work has been noted as important by high citation rates of his publications, as well as by the media, including appearing twice in the New York Times and on several radio and television programs.

A recent example of his work’s impact on the field can be found in the publication, several months ago, of the 90 most influential papers published in the 90-year old, field-leading journal, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. In positons #6 and #11 are two papers published by Dr. Stillman’s lab here at SF State.

Dr. Stillman serves on the Editorial Board of four major journals in his area of research. He has also acted as the Program Officer for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in 2013-2014, and its secretary from 2006-2008. Further, he served as a reviewer for over 30 different journals in his area. Further, Dr. Stillman regularly serves as an adjunct faculty at UC Berkeley.

In addition to his outstanding professional career, Dr. Stillman has provided significant service to his department, college and university through several committees.