Six honored for contributions to UCSD in annual ceremony

    The Chancellor’s Association, composed of alumni and community members seeking to improve UCSD, gave its annual awards to five UCSD professors Feb. 7.

    Scott Thomas
    Guardian

    UCSD’s highest honor, the Chancellor’s Medal of Honor, was awarded at the ceremony to Malin Burnham, the original chairperson of the Chancellor’s Association.

    “”These faculty members are individuals who truly make a difference in the classroom, in research and in the community,”” said Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Marsha Chandler.

    Burnham received the Chancellor’s Medal of Honor for his personal commitment to the improvement of higher education and his leadership contributions to the San Diego community.

    Associate editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune Neil Morgan introduced Burnham.

    “”Malin came from a family who didn’t need to give anything back to the community but he spent his life doing it,”” he said.

    Burnham spoke of his accomplishments in the nonprofit world as a team victory.

    “”You don’t measure things in the nonprofit world by winning and losing, but through what has been accomplished,”” he said. “”In all of my victories, it has been a team effort. The members of the team are the winners of this medal.””

    Burnham said the most important issue currently facing our nation, besides the events of Sept. 11, is education.

    “”The better education is, the better our world will be,”” he said.

    “”The theme I would like to emphasize today is cross-disciplinary,”” Chandler said.

    The faculty members honored reflect UCSD’s growth toward cross-disciplinary studies.

    Honorees received awards and a $2,500 honorarium from Chancellor’s Association chairperson Dick Hertzberg and Chancellor Robert C. Dynes.

    The first honoree of the evening’s ceremony, which was held at the Mandeville Auditorium, was Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor Jeremy B.C. Jackson, who was given the award for research in science and engineering.

    “”He is arguably the leading coral reef biologist and one of the world’s most outstanding marine ecologists,”” said Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography Charles F. Kennel.

    Jackson was honored for his historical approach to solving ecological problems.

    “”My specialty is giving a deeper time perspective to things people think of only in the present,”” Jackson said.

    One of Jackson’s major contributions is his study of Chesapeake Bay.

    “”Without historical perspective, people think pollution is the only problem, but the real problem in the Chesapeake Bay has been the over-fishing of oysters,”” Jackson said. “”Millions have been spent to clean up the region without realizing the real problem. It is time to start taking a historical approach in trying to solve these problems.””

    Economics professor Halbert L. White Jr. was honored for his research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Additionally, he was recognized for his work in econometrics and his research of artificial neural networks.

    Artificial neural networks influence a broad range of subjects, including everyday life.

    “”Every time you use your credit card, hundreds of very powerful neural networks determine the likelihood of the transaction being valid,”” White said.

    White also provided the music for the evening. He played the trumpet in a recording as honorees were presented their awards.

    Assistant professor of psychology Karen R. Dobkins received her graduate teaching award for, according to her students, her “”contagious enthusiasm.””

    “”Education is teaching them how to learn,”” Dobkins said. “”A trick is to see the faces out there and see if they are understanding.””

    Dobkins’ ultimate goal is for students to graduate knowing how to think for themselves.

    “”I want for my students to leave here knowing how to think independently and creatively,”” she said.

    Associate biology professor Radolph Y. Hampton was recognized for his undergraduate teaching style.

    “”He installs in his students a love of science,”” Chandler said.

    Hampton explained the importance of biology in modern life.

    “”Students are in the business of delivering answers and they are extremely good at it, but science is about questions,”” Hampton said. “”There are a lot of things we don’t know. That is why biology is so vital, because we don’t know everything.””

    Hampton’s technique for teaching is to make learning interesting for students.

    “”You have to make it global, make it relevant,”” Hampton said.

    Professor of pediatrics Vivian M. Reznik received the award for her community service. Reznik has created partnerships between the campus and the San Diego community through initiatives, including school violence prevention, K-12 reform, health and nutrition programs in elementary schools, and science and art programs for youth.

    As a pediatrician, Reznik attributes her desire to focus on youth enrichment programs to seeing problems arise in her patients’ lives as they reached adolescence.

    “”We began to look at the community in which these children were living,”” Reznik said. “”The community drove us. I would like to see us spend more money preventing problems rather than locking kids up.””

    Burnham concluded the evening by voicing his hopes for UCSD.

    “”Perhaps more things will be learned or discovered in the next 20 years, even right here on this campus, than have been in all of past history,”” he said.

    “”This makes me very excited, and I want to be here to help.””

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