Monday, May 12, 2014

Widener University Honors Faculty

for Teaching Innovation, Research and Civic Engagement
Widener University President James T. Harris III (left) and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Stephen C. Wilhite (right) congratulate award winners Jill Black and Scott Van Bramer

Widener University on Thursday honored the top faculty in the areas of teaching innovation, research, and civic engagement at its annual Faculty Awards Banquet. Dr. Jill Black, assistant professor of physical therapy; and Dr. Scott Van Bramer, professor of chemistry, garnered top honors at the event coordinated by the Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

“I share the external reviewers’ commendation of our faculty’s remarkable contributions and take great delight in being associated with each and every one of them,” said Stephen C. Wilhite, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I am honored to champion their dedication to their students and their constant pursuit of excellence.”

Black, a resident of Claymont, Del., received both the Outstanding Researcher Award and the Faculty Award for Civic Engagement.

The Outstanding Researcher Award recognizes a faculty member who is acknowledged nationally for his/her research and scholarship, quality of scholarly work, contribution to the profession/discipline and contribution to promoting the university’s mission and vision. Dr. Itzick Vatnick, professor of biology and environmental science; and Dr. Ning Wang, professor of education, were honored as nominees.

The Faculty Award for Civic Engagement recognizes a faculty member’s contributions to Widener’s civic engagement mission, especially the contribution to students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and the impact of their disciplinary learning in a particular program involving community constituencies. The winner of the award is selected from the finalists for the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award and the Outstanding Researcher Award. Dr. Vatnick was honored as a nominee. 

Black’s research focuses on exploring cultural issues and community engagement in physical therapy. She contributed to the creation and operation of the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic, the first student-led, stand-alone pro bono physical therapy clinic in the United States.

Black’s article highlighting the model for the clinic is published in the journal Physical Therapy. This model has been used by at least 10 other physical therapy graduate programs to establish their own student-led physical therapy clinics.

Black has utilized quantitative and qualitative methodologies to research and provide evidence in support of community engagement, service-learning, international clinical education and student-led pro bono services in physical therapy. Black has 23 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and more than 25 professional presentations related to her scholarly works. She has also contributed several book chapters and monographs, served as co-editor of a textbook on cultural competency in physical therapy, and as assistant editor of special topic issue on the internationalization of physical therapy in The Journal of Physical Therapy Education

Black earned a doctorate in physical therapy from Widener, a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction, a master of science in exercise science, and a bachelor of science in physical therapy from the University of Delaware.

Van Bramer, a resident of Wilmington, Del., received the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has designed and implemented an innovative or experimental teaching/learning project. Dr. Robert Bonk, professor of professional writing; and Dr. Brent Satterly, associate professor of social work, were honored as nominees.

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