Chairs of excellence

On August 25, the Santa Monica College Foundation named the four winners of the Chair of Excellence Grant for 2011.Each professor will receive a $15,000 grant to be used for special projects in business, earth science, healthcare, and music. The Chair of Excellence Grant created by the SMC Foundation is an opportunity for faculty to “try new, innovative avenues.” Endowments of this type are most commonly found at major research universities. “SMC is proud to offer these Chair of Excellence awards to outstanding professors who have developed projects that will enhance their teaching and enrich the academic experience for our students,” said SMC President and Superintendent Dr. Chui L. Tsang in a campus press release. This year’s winners will receive the grants in increments of $5,000 a year over the next three years to forward their proposed projects. Chair of Earth Science winner, Professor Vicki Drake, will further her research on the impact of chaparral vegetation on soil and landslide potential in fire areas using satellite imagery. Students will also be able to analyze geospatial data and have the opportunity to come on as paid research assistants. Professor Yulia Kozlova, the Chair of Music winner, is creating a lecture and concert series that will make classical music more accessible to students with the aid of “visual arts, poetry, and literature.” The focus will be on bringing the music of well established Russian and Lithuanian composers to her students, and give them the benefit of experiencing current, living composers. Chair of Business winner Professor Sal Veas’ project will create a social media marketing class. His plan will also incorporate student internships, guest speakers, and conferences, in hopes of guiding students from “simply being consumers of social media to becoming producers within a marketing communications program.” Professor Eve Adler of the Nursing Program is the winner St. John’s Health Center Chair of Excellence. She will take the relationship she has built with a nursing school in Thailand and turn it into a cross-cultural experience in which students “can conduct community assessments to identify needs of their respective communities and develop interventions that can be implemented in both.” The hope is that this ambitious project will lead to a study abroad program in which nursing students can gain hands-on experience in an international setting.