Alon, Barreneche and Siry Named 2011-12 Arthur Vining Davis Fellows

May 09, 2011

Rollins annually recognizes three faculty members as Arthur Vining Davis Fellows. Students and faculty nominate candidates 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 three Arthur Vining Davis Fellows for 2011-12 are Assistant Professor of International Business Anna Alon, Assistant Professor of Spanish Gabriel Barreneche and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Joseph Siry.

Anna Alon

Deb Wellman and Anna Alon
Photo by David Woods

Interim Dean of the Faculty Deb Wellman presents an Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship to Assistant Professor of International Business Anna Alon.

Alon is well recognized for utilizing practice tests and for always being prompt, prepared and passionate about the subject at hand. Innovative and active learning approaches take center stage and students are pushed to perform at even higher levels. One student commented that she “is just so devoted and willing to help students achieve” while another mentioned “I’ve always said that being a great teacher means having passion and confidence in your work. Simply being interested in a subject doesn't make a teacher great.”

A fellow colleague remarked that “Anna nurtures an environment in which everyone feels comfortable enough to make mistakes and participate in classroom discussions without feeling singled out.”

An advocate of incorporating new learning approaches in the classroom, Alon constantly challenges students and manages to keep the material fresh and motivational. Several students commented that never before had they attained so much useful information, on such a difficult subject, via such an enthusiastic professor.

Gabriel Barreneche

Gabriel Barrenche and Deb Wellman
Photo by David Woods

Interim Dean of the Faculty Deb Wellman presents an Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship to Assistant Professor of Spanish Gabriel Barreneche.

Barreneche is described as an amazing educator with an admirable record who is a highly engaged member of the Rollins community. He somehow manages to make modern technology look simple.

A faculty member since 2003, Barreneche has extensive experience with service-learning and Living Learning Communities, and he has integrated both into several of his courses. A fellow colleague commented, “I know of no other faculty member at Rollins who exemplifies the ideal of the engaged teacher in as varied and intense a manner.”

Barreneche has successfully published numerous articles and presented research at various conferences. He encourages students from all walks of life to get involved within, as well as outside of, the Rollins community.

His service to Rollins includes facilitating The Summit on Transforming Learning, Day of Languages and the Global Peace Film Festival, serving on the President’s Leadership Council and acting as a field study instructor and faculty advisor.

One colleague commented, “I can think of no one more deserving to be an Arthur Vining Davis Fellow.” Perhaps no other faculty member exemplifies the ideal of the engaged teacher as Barreneche.

Joseph Siry

Joe Siry and Deb Wellman
Photo by David Woods

Interim Dean of the Faculty Deb Wellman presents an Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship to Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Joseph Siry.

Siry is active in the Rollins community and the community at large. A member of the Rollins faculty since 1984, his dedication extends both in and out of the classroom, such as his work with Lake Apopka and its farmworkers.

Described by students as "a champion for the under-dog" and an "environmental protector," he takes to heart his commitment to the community to teach his students to be good global citizens, such as when he led a student group to New Orleans to assist residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One participant in this trip remarked that "Professor Siry consistently displayed an incredible commitment to the community and his passion rubbed off on all of us."

A student commented on one of Siry’s courses, whereby he was assigned the task of finding an environmental or social issue in the local community and then developing a plan to resolve it. The student chose to work with the Apopka Farm Workers after seeing how his professor interfaced with them. The student commented that "his work with local farm workers and his dedication to assisting them, both in and out of the classroom, had an emotional impact on me. I can truly say that his class made me a better student and a better person."

Another student summarized most succinctly by stating, "Dr. Siry is one of the most supportive professors I know of in terms of his ability to embolden even the meekest of people. He strives for excellence in his work but reminds the students that failure is just as valuable a learning experience as is the attainment of the goal."

Contributed by Janette Smith, administrative/research assistant to the dean of the faculty

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