Barreneche, Dennis, and Maskivker Receive Cornell Distinguished Faculty Awards

Three faculty members are recognized for exemplary teaching, research, and service.

The Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award was established by the Board of Trustees of Rollins College in honor of beloved alumnus and longtime trustee George D. Cornell ’35 ’85H. Each year, the award bestowed by the College Arts & Sciences, recognizes up to three outstanding faculty members who have achieved exceptional professional accomplishments in teaching, research, and service. Recipients hold the title of Cornell Distinguished Faculty for three academic years, and receive a stipend of $5,000 for each year, which can be added to salary as a stipend, established as a research account, or exchanged in $2500 increments for course release.

This year’s recipients are Associate Professor of Spanish Gabriel Barreneche, Associate Professor of Art History Kim Dennis, and Assistant Professor of Political Science Julia Maskivker.

Gabriel Barreneche
Associate Professor of Spanish


Since arriving at Rollins in 2003, Barreneche has displayed nothing but respect for and dedication to the Rollins community, both inside and outside the classroom. His students describe him as challenging, knowledgeable, engaging, and passionate. One student wrote, “He is my favorite teacher by far at Rollins, and I will encourage all of my peers to take his class because of his devotion to his students and his ability to make my educational experience more comfortable, enjoyable, and purposeful. His encouragement helped me to turn around my grades and my attitude toward my schoolwork.”

As a long-time practitioner of service-learning based foreign language pedagogy, he has presented his research on the topic at five major conferences—both national and international—during the past few years. He recently edited a nationally honored book on service learning and the effective use of technology to enhance students’ learning about the world, titled Educational Technology for the Global Village. He has also served as the faculty-in-residence and director of the Living Learning Communities program at Rollins and is the current RCC faculty director, as well.

“Despite his national reputation, [Barreneche] continues to work humbly and diligently in his own community, practicing what he preaches and teaching us all to understand the transformative potential of engaged pedagogy and research in, and as, service,” says Acting President Craig McAllaster.

Barreneche plans to use the stipend toward putting together two symposia to be held at The Alfond Inn as a way to bring in leading scholars and community members for presentations on Latin American culture and Hispanic identity in the United States. He hopes the conferences will greatly enhance Rollins’ visibility and reputation in the region. His working title for the first regional-focused symposium is The Changing Face of Hispanic Florida: Exploring Hispanic Identity in Florida, which he is currently planning for fall of 2016, to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.

“The Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award is a tremendous honor because it is given in recognition of consistent and continued excellence in all of our areas of professional responsibility—teaching, service, and scholarship—over a significant period of time,” Barreneche says. “This award is particularly meaningful because it is a recognition by my colleagues and peers, and has been bestowed upon some of the faculty whom I most admire personally and professionally. I am humbled to be in such good company.”


Kim Dennis
Associate Professor of Art History


To her students, Dennis is best known for her passion and rigor. “While strict, she holds her students to a high standard and sticks to her standards,” wrote one student. “She does this to prepare students for the workforce and for other classes, and it has truly helped in my growth as a student.”

Since arriving at Rollins in 2005, she has taught a community-engagement course every fall semester for nearly 10 years. In 2013, Dennis was recognized by Florida Campus Compact for her work in the women’s studies field with the Engaged Scholarship Faculty Award. She is also known for her fierce commitment to social-justice teaching and scholarship.

“In addition to an impressive teaching and scholarship record, [Dennis] currently coordinates the Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies program and has been a tireless advocate for women on this campus and beyond,” says McAllaster. “As the faculty advisor to Voices for Women and Students against Sexual Assault, she has been integral to the efforts to educate our community on sexual assault, develop meaningful prevention programing, and advocate for survivors.”

Her scholarship on the role of women as patrons in art history is internationally recognized, and most recently she was invited to present her work at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome.

Dennis’ current research project, an art-historical biography, focuses on Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj, the most powerful woman in Baroque Rome. Her book aims to depict women’s substantial power in early modern Rome and how their power traditionally has been perceived as destructive rather than vitally important to the development of the city.  The award will enable her to spend an extended amount of time in the Roman archives, which is necessary to complete her project.

“I am honored to have been chosen to receive a Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award,” Dennis says. “I am especially honored to be chosen by peers who are so dedicated to Rollins and who embody the ideals of the scholar-teacher. I am very excited by the opportunity the [Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award] brings for me to make significant progress with my research on Olimpia Pamphilj in the next three years.”


Julia Maskivker
Assistant Professor of Political Science


Maskivker’s classes are known for lively discussions around controversial topics, and her students appreciate her ability to let all sides of an issue be heard. “She is very smart and very approachable,” one student writes. “She is also unbiased, which must be hard in a class where all we did was talk about controversial topics.”

In many of her classes, she incorporates service-learning elements and works with students on projects ranging from voting rights for ex-felons to intellectual property rights and immigration reform. Her students are currently involved in the Citizenship Initiative, a multiyear initiative that recently hosted a Naturalization Ceremony at Rollins.

“Many of her students appreciate the pragmatic life and career mentoring that she provides both inside and outside of the class,” McAllaster says. “It is also impressive that her scholarship is so deeply entwined with her teaching and service at Rollins.”

Her book Self-Realization and Justice: A Liberal Perfectionist Defense of the Right to Freedom from Employment was published by Routledge. She has also edited a book on the political thinker Jon Elster, which was published by Cambridge University Press, and published numerous essays in prestigious journals in her field

Maskivker plans to user her award to do research on a new book project that focuses on the ethics of a civic duty to vote and compulsory voting laws. “I will investigate how compulsory voting systems operate in countries where voting is legally required,” Maskivker says. “The morality of civic participation is a fascinating topic for me, a political theorist by training. I’m very honored to be a recipient of this distinction, and I’m thankful to Rollins for providing me with an environment where I can do meaningful teaching and research.”