Penn State Shenango faculty honored for excellence in teaching

Penn State Shenango has announced the recipients of its full- and part-time teaching awards. Tim Brundrett, instructor in sociology, was awarded the 2010 Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award, while Jack Skinner, part-time instructor in mathematics, received the 2010 Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Teaching Award.

The Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award is a campus award bestowed on a full-time faculty member who has been chosen through a series of steps that include nominations and recommendation from both students and the nominee’s peers. Riforgiato, for whom the Shenango campus teaching award is named, was an associate professor in history and the first recipient of the Penn State Shenango Teaching Award. He taught at the Shenango campus for 26 years until his death in 1999.

Tim Brundrett joined the Shenango campus faculty in the fall of 2008. According to one student nominator, “Tim [Brundrett] relates to students on a personal level and makes us feel comfortable in a difficult class. His lectures are insightful and witty rendering tons of examples to help us remember otherwise very difficult amounts of material. Although some might find his teaching methods intimidating, I believe he strives to push us to go above and beyond our regular limits."

Brundrett received his bachelor of science degree in sociology and political science from Central Michigan University. He earned a master of arts in political science from Miami University and another master of arts in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. Brundrett did his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh in organizational and medical sociology (ABD) before leaving to start his own business consulting firm.

Tim Brundrett has taught university level courses for the past twenty years in the Western Pennsylvania region. Prior to being hired at Penn State in 2008, he taught courses at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State Greater Allegheny, St. Vincent College, and the Community College of Allegheny County.

Since joining Penn State Shenango, Brundrett has created additional value for the campus in his work with students and local businesses. He worked with both the Career Development and Continuing Education office to create seminars in leadership for both students and business managers. Brundrett was also contracted through the Continuing Education department to evaluate organizational effectiveness and group culture of different area companies. Brundrett has served on faculty and administrative search committees, faculty senate committees, and was charged with researching, developing, and implementing a Peer Mentoring pilot program on the Shenango campus.

Brundrett is currently working on a book to be used to help students apply legal concepts to Supreme Court decisions. Supreme Court Decisions & Development of Criminal Law co-authored with Charles Miller applies U.S. Supreme Court precedent to due process and crime control policies.

“I am very humbled and honored to be presented the teacher of the year award,” said Brundrett. “I appreciate the kind words from the students and from my colleagues. Receiving this award says more about our students at Penn State Shenango than it does my skills as an instructor. To me, it tells me that they will rise to the challenges put before them. If expected to be great, they will respond with greatness. Their determination and enthusiasm drives me to come up with new ways to provide them with the tools that will make them successful in and outside the classroom. It is because of their attitude and efforts that I push myself to always give them my best effort in preparation, presentation, and expectation inside my classroom.”

The Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Teaching Award, which was presented to Jack Skinner, recognizes outstanding part-time faculty at the campus. This award was established in 1998. Margaret Foley was an English instructor at Penn State Shenango from 1967 to 1994. She died in 2000.

Skinner was hired by Penn State Shenango this past fall to teach introductory algebra courses to Shenango students -- many of whom are returning adult students. According to one student, “Skinner has created a learning environment that is both educational and enjoyable. Students freely ask questions and he makes sure that his students understand the material. When one does not understand a math problem, he finds alternate methods to explain it until he or she comprehends. On a personal level, I postponed the math I needed for my degree as long as possible. A class that I was dreading turned out to be one that I have enjoyed the most. I feel fortunate to have had him for a teacher as my attitude for the subject has changed. I am now confident that I will conquer math 21 next semester and finally earn my degree.”

Skinner attended Purdue University where he received a bachelor of science in mathematics and a minor in physics in 1971. He went on to receive a master’s degree in mathematics from Youngstown State University in 1975.

For most of his professional career, Skinner was a partner and executive vice president of Software Development at Eastern Software Corp. (now part of FNIS) of Sharon, a nationwide provider of financial software to the lending industry. Over the years, he has also has taught various math courses at Youngstown State University.

Both Brundrett and Skinner were presented with a plaque and a monetary award at this year’s Penn State Shenango Advisory Board dinner which was held at the end of May.

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Last Updated August 09, 2010