Rollins annually recognizes three faculty members as Arthur Vining Davis fellows.
Claire Strom accepts the Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship from Provost Carol Bresnahan during the Arts & Sciences and College of Professional Studies commencement ceremony. (Photo by Scott Cook) Every year during commencement, Rollins students and faculty recognize outstanding faculty members who demonstrate outstanding teaching and advising, scholarly work and publications, completion of significant research projects, accomplishments in the fine arts, or important contributions to the cultural, economic, and social community of Central Florida. The 2013-14 Arthur Vining Davis Fellows are Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Gunter Jr., Assistant Professor of English Jana Mathews, and Rapetti-Trunzo Professor of History Claire Strom.
Described as an “active educator,” Gunter’s engaging presence in the classroom captivates his students’ attention. He continuously updates his courses, which are described as “rich in content while promoting engaged and balanced learning.”
During his 13 years at Rollins, he has embodied a collaborative spirit when dealing with his colleagues and students. Having mentored and advised hundreds of students, he currently serves as the faculty advisor to approximately 40 students.
One of his advisees stated, “Without his guidance, I can’t be certain I would be graduating this spring. He assisted me in every way possible, and was incredibly selfless with his time.” Another student described him as “nurturing” and “an attentive listener.”
Gunter has twice been selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to address the National Security Institute on the topic of the environment and national security. He has published extensively, including three peer-reviewed journal articles during the last two and a half years. In the words of one faculty colleague, he is “carving out a real reputation as a climate change politics scholar.”
Mathews’ is described as “vibrant,” “a gem,” “a dynamo,” “a very visible member of the campus community,” and “a genuine role model,” and her passion for her discipline is “contagious.” Students are impressed with her extensive preparation for class and student-oriented approach to teaching. One student described her as “the most adept facilitator of discussion I have ever experienced.” Another student noted that this faculty member’s “insatiable research” interests have led to many notable publications that “present complex theories in an accessible way.”
In just three years at Rollins, she has served on the Academic Affairs and General Education Implementation committees and advised two sororities as well as an honor society. Faculty members recognize her ability to make distant material seem relevant and important to her students. “From field trips to Medieval Times, laser tag battles with students in her course War Novels, and the near-daily incorporation of short-video clips, she pushes the boundaries of what we understand as an object of analysis.”
Known for being “smart,” “demanding,” and a “wonderful contributor in terms of service,” students appreciate her “inquisitive questions” and unique teaching methods that encourage their involvement. One of her students commented, “I never laughed or learned as much as I did that semester. In many ways, my experience with this professor inspired me to take my personal and academic life to the next level.” Students also appreciate that she sets aside time to attend their academic banquets, hold extra office hours, and attend their sporting and extracurricular events in addition to her other service to the College.
During her five years at Rollins, she has chaired the committees of Academic Affairs, General Education Implementation, and Professional Standards. She has co-chaired the Diversity Advisory Council, and served as a member of the Executive Council of the All-College Faculty as well as the Executive Committee of Arts and Sciences. In addition, she has chaired the Social Science Division and served as editor of the Agricultural History journal. As a faculty colleague noted, “This is a substantial amount of service for any faculty member in such a short period, all while teaching honors and general education classes and publishing a book and articles.”