Six faculty members have received the 2013 Milton Plesur
Excellence in Teaching Awards from the undergraduate Student
Association (SA) in recognition of their commitment to students and
the quality of their teaching.
The coveted award—recipients are nominated by
students—is named for Plesur, a professor in the Department
of History who died in 1987. He was a beloved teacher, author and
scholar of popular culture and the American presidency, whose humor
captivated his students.
“He epitomized a number of valued characteristics rarely
combined in a single individual,” says Karin Hsieh, student
affairs assistant for SA. “Not only did he deliver engaging
lectures with an understanding style, he crossed teacher/student
boundaries by acting as a friend to students.”
The recipients, who received the award during a ceremony on
April 15 in Baird Recital Hall, are:
- Sharon Hewner, assistant professor, School of Nursing.
Hewner’s areas of research are wide and varied, and include
the culture of safety, end-of-life cost trends,
return-on-investment analysis, population health analysis and
female post-reproductive frailty. She currently teaches courses in
population health and informatics. Last year, she received the UB
Teaching Innovation Award, which recognizes faculty members who
have contributed significantly to engaging students with new
methods and approaches to teaching that have enhanced
- James Javor, clinical assistant professor, Department of
Mathematics. Javor teaches the staple courses in the math
department: Calculus I, II and III, and Differential
Equations. Extremely well-liked by his students, he was
recognized in 2010 by the online rating site RateMyProfessors.com
as the 10th most highly rated professor in the nation. He received
a Plesur award in 2004.
- Kemper Lewis, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering. A UB faculty member since 2001 and executive director
of UB’s New York State Center for Engineering Design and
Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII) since 2005, Lewis teaches and
conducts research in the areas of mechanical design, system
optimization and decision modeling. He has led multi-university
initiatives in decision-based design, including a series of
workshops and textbooks on the subject. Another two-time Plesur
recipient, he received the award in 2001.
- Jessica Poulin, instructor, Department of Biological Sciences.
Poulin teaches “Evolutionary Biology” and “Cell
Biology.” She is actively involved in undergraduate
- Gail Radford, associate professor, Department of History.
Radford teaches courses on 20th-century U.S. history. She is
working on a book, “The Rise of the Public Authority
State,” that will explore the origins of quasi-public
agencies. She has been awarded fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the
Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. She also
received the Binkley-Stephenson Award from the Organization of
American Historians for the best article in the Journal of American
History in 2003.
- Cynthia Wu, assistant professor, Department of Transnational
Studies. A specialist in Asian American and comparative ethnic
studies, U.S. literatures after 1865, disability studies and queer
of color analysis, she teaches both “American
Pluralism” and “Cross-Racial Encounters in Asian
America.” Her current research focuses on the relationship
between African-Americans and the U.S. military. Her most recent
publication is “Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original
Siamese Twins in American Culture” (Temple University Press,