Four named 2010-12 Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professors

SMU's 2010-12 Altshuler Distinguished Teaching ProfessorsFour outstanding educators have been named 2010-12 Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professors by SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence. This year’s honorees are Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Randall Griffin, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts; Roy Heller, Old Testament, Perkins School of Theology; and Donald VandeWalle, Management and Organizations, Cox School of Business.

The four new members of SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers will join returning members Crista DeLuzio, History; Robert Howell, Philosophy, Thomas Knock, History; and Thomas Osang, Economics (all in Dedman College).

Each year since 2001, the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Awards recognize four SMU faculty members for their commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning. “These are faculty whose concerns for higher education go beyond classroom boundaries and often the boundaries of their own discipline,” according to the CTE website. “They represent the highest achievement in reaching the goals of higher education.” The professorships are named for SMU Trustee Ruth Altshuler.

Each recipient receives a $10,000 award and membership in SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers for the two years of their appointment as Altshuler Professors. Members participate actively with other members of the Academy to address issues in classroom teaching.

Read more about the new Altshuler Professors under the link.

Above, the new Altshuler Professors were honored by the SMU Board of Trustees during its May meeting (left to right): Roy Heller, Johan Elverskog, SMU Trustee Ruth Altshuler, Donald VandeWalle and Randall Griffin.


Johan Elverskog is a professor of religious studies and director of Asian studies in Dedman College; he also directs the SMU-in-Suzhou program through SMU Education Abroad. A specialist in Asian religions and cultures, he teaches courses in Buddhism, religions of China, the cultural history of Tibet, and an introduction to Eastern religions, among others. His current research focuses on the environmental history of Buddhist Asia and how Buddhists have impacted the natural world. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Jewel Translucent Sutra: Altan Khan and the Mongols in the Sixteenth Century (Brill, 2003), Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China (University of Hawai’i Press, 2006) and Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).

Randall Griffin is a professor of art history in Meadows School of the Arts. He has taught courses on the art of the American West and Southwest and American architecture, among others. His research focuses on portrayals of Civil War battles, art and nature in modernism, and renderings of the “abnormal” body. He is the author of Winslow Homer: An American Vision (Phaidon, 2006) and Homer, Eakins, & Anshutz: The Search for American Identity in the Gilded Age (Penn State University Press, 2004) – both of which received Godbey Authors’ Awards from SMU as well as Vasari Awards from the Dallas Museum of Art. Griffin serves as steering committee chair of the University’s SACS 10-year accreditation review. His honors include a 1997-98 Golden Mustang Outstanding Faculty Award and a 2010 Distinguished University Citizen Award.

Roy Heller is an associate professor of Old Testament in Perkins School of Theology. His teaching specialties are Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible, biblical Hebrew, narrative criticism, and ancient Near Eastern languages and literature. His research interests include Biblical Hebrew grammar and syntax, biblical theology, and use of the Bible in ethics and theology. Heller received the 2004-05 Golden Mustang Outstanding Faculty Award, established by SMU alumni to honor a junior, tenure-track faculty member whose teaching is consistently excellent and whose scholarship makes a meaningful contribution to the discipline and to student learning. His book Power, Politics, and Prophecy: The Character of Samuel and the Deuteronomistic Evaluation of Prophecy was published in 2006 by T&T Clark International.

Donald VandeWalle is chair of Management and Organizations and Fisher Research Fellow in the Cox School of Business. He teaches courses in organizational behavior and culture, managing organizations, and leadership. An expert in employee motivation and executive development, he focuses his current research on the psychological factors that influence individuals to pursue skill development and personal performance improvement. VandeWalle has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology and the Journal of Management and has been published extensively in both periodicals, among others. His honors include a 2006 Cox Outstanding M.B.A. Teaching Award and a 2004-05 President’s Asssociates Outstanding Faculty Award honoring tenured faculty who have sustained high achievement both as teachers and scholars.

Read more about the new Altshuler Professors at their faculty websites:

> Johan Elverskog
> Randall Griffin
> Roy Heller
> Donald VandeWalle

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