Trethewey, Gamble receive Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — John Gamble Jr., distinguished professor of political science and international law at Penn State Behrend, and Martin Trethewey, Arthur L. Glenn Professor of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering, are recipients of the 2014 Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The award recognizes excellence in teaching and student support among tenured faculty who have been employed full time for at least five years with undergraduate teaching as a major portion of their duties. Milton S. Eisenhower, brother of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served as president of Penn State from 1950 to 1956.

Gamble traces his belief in the importance of knowing students as individuals back to 1963, when a college chemistry professor asked him a question. “I knew the answer but, due to my stuttering, could not answer and dropped the course,” he said. “To this day, in my interactions with students, I try to understand the person beyond the occupant of a classroom seat for 150 minutes a week.”

Although Gamble has taught political science at Behrend since 1976, one nominator said, “Dr. Gamble’s classes evolve each semester. His limitless curiosity and dedication to improvement make this possible.” A student described the professor’s approach as “outside the traditional ‘teaching’ box,” an approach that “is inspiring, stimulates debate, and always produces a further learning opportunity.”

As director of honors programs at Behrend, Gamble is in charge of recruiting students and arranging honors sections and supplementary programming; last fall, the campus had 36 Schreyer Scholars and 400 in the Behrend Honors Program. Talking to prospective honors students at open houses, “John promises them an individualized experience at Behrend, one that, he says, they won’t receive anywhere else,” one nominator said. “John can make this promise because it is true, and it is true due to John’s efforts.”

Having taught at Penn State for 32 years, Trethewey focuses on developing and delivering “real-life activities inside and outside of the classroom in order to facilitate the transition from student to practicing professional engineer.” He has his mechanical engineering students work in teams to simulate a small professional consulting company. “This ‘company approach’ allows the students to simultaneously practice professional skills, such as teamwork and communication, as well as immediately apply newly studied technical topics,” he said.

Trethewey spearheaded development of the Global Capstone Project Team activity to give engineering students international experience without having to travel internationally. Penn State students partner with students at an overseas university to work on a project for an industry sponsor, along the way dealing with time-zone differences and communication challenges. One nominator said Trethewey “developed a pathway that led to incredible opportunities for our undergraduate students to achieve global engineering experiences.” In 2012, the National Academy of Engineering awarded the project a Real World Engineering Education Citation.

According to one student nominator, “No other professor that I have encountered combines passion, integrity and professional expertise with a student-centric approach like Dr. Trethewey.” The professor received the Penn State Engineering Society Outstanding Teaching Award in 2012.

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Last Updated March 20, 2014