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UHV recognizes three faculty for teaching, service, research

May 16, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.


All higher education faculty members are expected to teach classes, conduct research and provide service to their university and community. But three University of Houston-Victoria faculty members were singled out by their peers as outstanding in those areas and recognized at the university's spring commencement ceremony on Saturday.

School of Business Administration associate professors Vera Adamchik and Joseph Ben-Ur, and School of Arts & Sciences associate professor Richard Gunasekera were honored for excellence in teaching, service or research.

"We have many outstanding professors at UHV, and these professors are three shining examples," Tim Hudson, university president, said. "They are committed to making a difference in the lives of students, the prestige of the university and the success of our surrounding communities."

Adamchik is the recipient of the 2009-2010 Enron Teaching Excellence Award, given annually to a faculty member who provides innovative, high-quality instruction for students. Along with Ben-Ur and Gunasekera, she received a monetary award and plaque before graduation.

Adamchik teaches economics classes to Master of Business Administration students in Sugar Land, Katy and online.

"My main goal as an economics instructor is to show MBA students the value of studying economics, to show them that economics underpins many other fields on the curriculum, and that sound training in economics is important to business managers," Adamchik said.

UHV students nominated about 30 professors for the teaching award, and Adamchik was selected from five finalists. In addition, the university awarded her with several research grants to allow her to conduct research on labor markets in transition economies.

"I am very proud of this extraordinary honor," she said. "I hope to continue to live up to it."

Ben-Ur, who teaches marketing in the School of Business Administration, said he was also proud to be recognized. He is the 2009-2010 recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Service Award for his outstanding service to the scientific community, to UHV and to the local and regional communities.

Ben-Ur teaches in Victoria and online. During the 2002-2003 school year, he served as the first president of the UHV Faculty Senate, an elected group that represents faculty at the university, and chair of the University Faculties Executive Council for the University of Houston System.

He stays active in serving the university as chair of the School of Business Administration Undergraduate Curriculum Planning and Assessment Committee, and the Marketing Search Committee, and as a member of the UHV Graduate Studies Committee and Undergraduate Affairs Committee.He also serves as a senior editor for the Journal of Political Marketing, a quarterly national journal that examines the use of marketing and business practices by politicians.

Shortly after he started work at UHV in 1996, he and two other faculty members helped design and conduct a survey of higher education needs in the El Campo community. This led to the construction of the Northside Education Center in El Campo.

Farhang Niroomand, dean of the School of Business Administration, said he is pleased that both Adamchik and Ben-Ur were recognized on Saturday.

"The performance of these faculty demonstrates the SBA's broad commitment to excellence, as well as our culture of productivity," he said. "I'm proud of what they have accomplished."

Gunasekera, a biochemical geneticist who teaches in Victoria and Sugar Land and is director of biological sciences graduate studies and laboratories, said he appreciates the support he has received from UHV. He is the 2009-2010 recipient of the Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award.

"I've been blessed," he said. "I'm very grateful to UHV for all the support and teamwork to start the biology program at UHV and create our state-of-the-art research laboratories in Victoria and at the University of Houston System at Sugar Land."

Gunasekera spoke in 2009 at the European Human Genetics Conference in Vienna, Austria, about his genetics research involving children in Tibet with Kashin-Beck disease, a degenerative disorder of the bones and joints. He also was invited to present his findings about the disease and case studies in forensic science at the Texas Society for Genetics annual conference in March in Houston.

In addition, Gunasekera, who began experimental cancer research at UHV, is working on a research project with Peter Anderson, an oncologist and professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. They are studying how chemotherapy and nutritional therapy can be made more effective in cancer patients. The research is funded by a grant received by Gunasekera from the UT System's Texas Ignition fund and is being conducted at UHV with clinicals at M.D. Anderson.

Gunasekera has had four articles published in national and international peer-reviewed journals within the last year.

Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, said he is thrilled that Gunasekera is being recognized for his work.

"This accomplishment speaks well of the School of Arts & Sciences, the biology program and the fine research that Dr. Gunasekera has done," he said.

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