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Professors honored at Faculty Awards for Excellence event

Jacksonville University professors were recently recognized at the 56th annual Faculty Awards for Excellence.

Honored for 2014 were:

Brian Palmer, associate professor of dance — Professor of the Year. Palmer, who is also chair of theater and dance, has been a professor at JU since 2002 and has made many significant contributions to furthering students’ education in fine arts. Prof. Palmer spent nine years with the Richmond Ballet and two years with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet sponsored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He has served as an evaluator for the National Association of Schools in Dance, as a dance review panelist for Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs and as a board member with the Florida Dance Association.

Ruth O’Keefe, professor of accounting and business law — Excellence Award in Community Service. A faculty member at JU since 1982, she has dedicated many years of passionate work locally in the area of mental illness, helping teach the community that mental illnesses are really brain disorders. In the last five years alone, her community service activities have included 350 hours as teacher and trainer for the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 120 hours of family caregiver follow-ups and 25 hours of pro bono tax returns for low-income and elderly taxpayers.

Nisse Goldberg, associate professor of biology/marine science —Excellence Award in Scholarship and Professional Activities. Since joining JU in 2007, she has published 10 papers, presented nine talks, identified a unique species of fungus and studied invasive species in marshes and national wildlife reserves. Her integrated research in classes she teaches includes providing research opportunities with the EPA for undergraduates. She also coordinates the annual Air Potato Roundup, recording size-frequency distribution of the invasive species with students.

Jianjun He, associate professor of music composition and theory — Excellence Award in Teaching. With more than 30 years’ college teaching experience, he has earned recognition for teaching excellence from each institution he’s served. He established the New Music of JU Students Concert, an annual event featuring new student compositions. He has invited 11 guest composers to campus in four years to speak to and work with students. He facilitates performances of his students’ works at local churches, schools and community venues, and has taught by example, as a faithful member of the JU Orchestra violin section since his arrival at JU—performing more than 20 concerts among his students in the orchestra.