David Smith named 2010 WCSU Teaching Excellence Award recipient
Music professor and percussionist to be honored at recognition ceremony on Dec. 2

DANBURY, CONN. — David Smith, an accomplished percussionist and professor of music and music education whose teaching career at Western Connecticut State University spans more than 40 years, will receive the 2010 Teaching Excellence Award at the annual Faculty Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 2, at the university.

Smith will receive the award from WCSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Linda Rinker during the afternoon ceremony in Warner Hall on the university’s Midtown campus. WCSU President James Schmotter will offer remarks, and Professor of Music and Music Education Dr. Marjorie Callaghan will introduce Smith for the award presentation. Admission is restricted to WCSU faculty and staff.

The program also will feature recognition of achievements by Western faculty members, including earned degrees, published works, academic and performing arts presentations, and service activities. Special recognition will be given to eight faculty members who earned tenure awards and seven who received promotions during the 2009-10 academic year.

Recipient of a bachelor’s degree in music education from Mansfield State College and a master’s degree in percussion performance from East Carolina University, Smith joined the WCSU music faculty in 1970. He resides in Danbury with his wife Judith, an adjunct professor in the university’s music department.

While the music program has grown significantly during his four decades at Western, Smith observed, “my approach to teaching hasn’t changed over the years. I treat each student as an individual.”

Callaghan, who submitted the award nomination, remarked that Smith has earned the respect of his peers and students as a gifted teacher and performing artist.

“Throughout his 41 years of teaching here at WCSU, Dave Smith is and has been a wonderful role model and mentor for students and faculty alike,” Callaghan said. “He has high standards and expectations and, at the same time, is kind and empathetic, aware of each student’s needs. He motivates his students both by example, and by organizing master classes and performances by internationally recognized percussionists.”

Smith observed that he encourages his students to continue their learning beyond the classroom. “The students’ attendance at regional and national conventions has helped them to progress at a quicker rate,” he noted, helping them to gain skills for both ensemble and individual performance.

Smith has performed as principal percussionist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, timpanist and percussion principal for the Ives Symphony Orchestra, and timpanist for the Bridgeport Symphony and the Ridgefield Orchestra. In addition to his many percussion recitals at Western, he also has performed solo at the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, the Manchester (Conn.) Church Community Concert Series, the Hillsdale (N.Y.) Art Gallery and the Five Mile River Concert Series in Norwalk. Professional mentors during his career have included John Beck of the Eastman School of Music, Brad Spinney of New York University, Harold Jones of East Carolina University and Fred Hinger of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Among his performance accomplishments are his recording of David Amram’s “Native American Portraits” for National Public Radio and his performance at the International Percussive Arts Society Conference of world premieres of two compositions, for solo marimba and for solo snare drum, by Milton Babbitt. He has recorded performances on CRI and Desto Records with the New England Contemporary Ensemble, and has performed with the Paul Whiteman Band across the United States and in Italy.

Smith’s stature in the WCSU music department speaks both to his accomplishments as a musician and his personal gifts as an educator and colleague, Callaghan noted.

“Dave is a supportive member of the music department, and his presence can be seen at nearly every recital and department event,” she said. “He is a warm, positive human being, willing to go out of his way to help both students and colleagues. Dave has the genuine admiration and respect of past and present students and faculty.”

For his part, Smith emphasized that the music department’s growth over the past four decades has not diminished the faculty’s commitment to teaching. “The current faculty is very talented and dedicated to the students in the department,” he said. “The quality of our student performances in recitals and ensembles reflects this dedication.

“I am honored to receive this year’s Teaching Excellence Award,” he added. “There are many faculty members at Western who are deserving of this award. It has been a pleasure to work with everyone here over the years.”

Remarks in recognition of other WCSU faculty members during the Dec. 2 ceremony will be offered by Dr. Allen Morton, dean of the Ancell School of Business; Dr. Abbey Zink, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Maryann Rossi, interim dean of the School of Professional Studies; and Dr. Carol Hawkes, dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Recipients of tenure awards during the 2009-10 year include: Dr. Daniel Barrett, associate professor of psychology; Dr. Donald Gagnon, associate professor of English; Dr. Thomas Lonergan, professor and chair of the department of biological and environmental sciences; Thomas Monks, associate professor of accounting; Joan Palladino, assistant professor of nursing; Dr. Theodora Pinou, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences; and Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, associate professor of history and non-Western cultures. The ceremony also will recognize the promotions of Dr. Galina Bakhtiarova, to associate professor of world languages and literature; Dr. Patrice Boily, to professor of biological and environmental sciences; Dr. Kevin Gutzman, to professor of history; Dr. Russell Hirshfield, to professor of music and music education; Dr. Yuan Mei-Ratliff, to professor of chemistry; Russell Gladstone, to librarian; and Peter Algarin, to trainer III.

Hirshfield, chair of the Faculty Development and Recognition Committee, will deliver opening and closing remarks at the event. Other members of the committee, which sponsored and organized the program, are Assistant Director of Academic Advisement Irene Duffy, Associate Librarian Xiaomei Gong, Assistant Professor of Social Work Dr. Kathleen Hinga, Associate Professor of Justice and Law Administration Dr. George Kain, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies and External Programs Dr. Burton Peretti, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Massy Rajabzadeh.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.



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