By Karina Ultreras
Three outstanding Cal Poly Pomona professors were honored at the Provost’s Awards for Excellence Symposium on Thursday.
The awardees include English Professor Alison Baker for teaching, Plant Sciences Professor Daniel Hostetler for service and Biological Sciences Associate Professor _Ò_Ängel Valdes for scholarly and creative activities.
The event, held in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Major from 4 to 6 p.m., included live music from music student Erasmus Perez, wine, and appetizers from Kellogg West.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Marten denBoer welcomed the awardees and attendees. Students, colleagues and family members attended to show their support and gratitude.
Baker is a medieval literature professor in the Department of English & Foreign Languages. She received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for her dedication to her students. Baker has also received the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society Outstanding Faculty Support and Advising Award four times.
Baker goes the extra mile to help her students to understand the texts.
“I love my students,” said Baker. “I have small classes and I really get to know them. I go into class smiling, and I come out of class smiling.”
Baker referenced three different stories in her presentation. Her love for the subject was very visible.
“It is very rewarding job,” said Baker. “I’m really the luckiest person the world because I get paid to talk to people about cool books. I’m proud to represent [the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.] It is nice because we get to have our voice heard too.”
Hostetler is a plant sciences professor that embodies CPP’s motto of “learn by doing.” In addition to dedicating his life to CPP as a student, staff and faculty member, Hostetler has been instrumental in many projects: the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch, AGRIscapes, Horsehill Vineyards and the Pumpkin Festival.
During his presentation, Hostetler proudly placed wine bottles on the podium and joked that the audience may not have recognized him in professional attire.
Megan Williams, a fourth-year agriculture science student, described Hostetler as a laid-back, funny and engaging professor.
“He makes class really fun,” said Williams. “He totally has faith in us and just says, ‘Go do it, you’ll learn, you’ll be fine.’ He’ll see you in the hallway and know you by name. That is great for someone that has been working here 38 years.”
Hostetler thanked those that helped him in his career, and stressed the importance of service.
“I want to challenge everybody to make sure they get into service,” said Hostetler. “Put service as a big part of your portfolio because when you get to my age and you look back, it is the best thing I ever did.”
In his 38 years at CPP, Hostetler’s connection with his students is one of a kind.
“What I really like about working with students is that it is my favorite time of the day,” said Hostetler. “Working with the students has been a pleasure and will always be. It has never been a chore.”
Valdes has had tremendous success in the science community, using molecular biology to study sea slugs. He is internationally recognized for discovering more than 100 new species, and has published four books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles.
Valdes has not only devoted himself to his research, but to his students.
“Working with students is by far my favorite part,” said Valdes. “Seeing them grow intellectually and maturing, and seeing their fascination and passion for research for learning is rewarding.”
For his presentation, Valdes went in depth on the significance of investing as much as possible in students. He talked about his first encounter with sea slugs that sparked his curiosity and dedication to the study.
“I am one of those nerdy teens ” well not a teen anymore, but still nerdy,” said Valdes. “I was more interested in collecting shells than dating girls or going to the parties. Still am.”
Valdes thanked the attendees, including his family, for the award.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed getting so much attention on me, because I’m not used it,” said Valdes. “For a second I thought someone was playing a practical joke on me, and then I realized it was for real. I can’t believe I was selected amongst so many great faculty.”
He dedicated the award in the memory of his parents: “my dad who gave me the love for the oceans and my mom who gave me the love for nature,” said Valdes.
University President Soraya Coley closed the event with saying that the hard work of the awardees helps prepare students to live, lead and contribute to the wellbeing and advancement of our society.
All faculty who have been at CPP for at least five years are eligible for the awards. Awardees receive a plaque, cash, and inscription of their names on a plaque in the University Library and a website maintained by the Division of Academic Affairs.
Leanna Ahmed / The Poly Post
Award for excellance
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