Campus News

Six receive Milton Plesur awards


Published May 9, 2013


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 student-learning outcomes.
  • 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 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 curriculum development.
  • 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, 2012).