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Willamette Presents Annual Faculty Awards

Six Willamette University professors were honored Thursday night with faculty awards for their scholarship, leadership, service and teaching excellence.

"The faculty of Willamette University set the standard of intellectual growth and exceptional learning," President M. Lee Pelton said at the awards ceremony. "You share your knowledge with our students, but more importantly, you share your time, your energy, your compassion."

The winners

Miho Fujiwara, associate professor of JapaneseMiho Fujiwara, associate professor of Japanese: Fujiwara received the Jerry E. Hudson Award for Excellence in Teaching for her distinguished teaching and leadership. Students also chose her for the Professor of the Year award. Students say she "unfailingly delivers well-planned and interesting lectures" and provides "the very best possible education." They appreciate her approachability and attentiveness, and say that her "influence in [their] academic career will better prepare [them] to handle life beyond college. Fujiwara recently received an ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Award to do summer research with students in Japan.

J. HansonJim Hanson, the Peter C. and Bonnie S. Kremer Professor of Economics: Hanson received the Richard Iltis Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by the Mortar Board to a retiring professor for a lifetime of honorable service to the students, staff, university, community and their profession. Hanson has been a member of the economics faculty since 1976. He taught courses on the economics of developing countries, international economics and macroeconomics.

David McCreery, professor of religious studiesDavid McCreery, professor of religious studies: McCreery received the United Methodist Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service for his impact in the community and the classroom. McCreery's students call him an "accomplished" and "gifted" teacher who is committed to them whether in the traditional classroom on campus or on-site in Jordan. His service includes chairing the Faculty Council, serving on the College of Liberal Arts Budget Committee, creating a new archaeology major and participating in the Archaeological Institute of America. He was named professor of archaeology emeritus at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman.

Ross RunkelRoss Runkel, professor emeritus and visiting professor of law: Runkel received the Jerry E. Hudson Award for Excellence in Teaching for his distinguished teaching and leadership. He has served the university for more than 30 years. His students' evaluations praise his expert teaching, calling him "knowledgeable, witty, entertaining and concise," "hands down the best professor I've had," and noting that he has a "great sense of humor." He retired from the law faculty in 1999, but College of Law Dean Symeon Symeonides asked him to return as a visiting professor.

Patricia VarasPatricia Varas, professor of Spanish: Varas received the Lawrence D. Cress Award for Excellence in Faculty Scholarship, which recognizes the important relationship between research and the undergraduate experience and often involves joint faculty-student research. Varas's colleagues describe her as a "prolific" and "insightful" scholar whose work places her "among the top rank" at Willamette. She has been favorably reviewed in the journals Confluencia, Hispanic Review and Letras Femeninas. She has published numerous articles and two books, and has presented frequently at professional conferences.

Robert E. WiltbankRobert E. Wiltbank, associate professor of strategic management: Wiltbank won the United Methodist Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service for his extraordinary impact in the community and the classroom. Since 2005 he has published or has accepted for publication nine peer-reviewed pieces in high quality outlets. His service includes being a member of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management Strategy Working Group, chairing the Personnel Committee and serving on the University Strategic Planning Task Force. He teaches courses on new venture creation, strategic management and industry analysis, which are well-reviewed by students.