Three Gettysburg College professors honored with 2021 teaching, mentorship awards

Gettysburg College faculty love what they do. By wholeheartedly pursuing the work for which they are passionate, they leave positive impacts on the lives of students and colleagues, and more broadly, the College.

Recently, three faculty members—Alex Trillo, Florence Ramond Jurney, and Clifton Presser —were recognized for their exemplary work at the College as both professors and mentors. They were named the 2021 recipients of the following awards, respectively: the Luther W. and Bernice L. Thompson Distinguished Teaching Award, the Dr. Robert E. Dutton ’46 Memorial Mentorship Award, and the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning (JCCTL) Excellence in Teaching Award.

Read more below about these awards and the recipients’ careers.

The Luther W. and Bernice L. Thompson Distinguished Teaching Award

Biology and Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Prof. Alex Trillo

Headshot of Alex Trillo
Prof. Alex Trillo

The Distinguished Teaching Award is given each year to recognize a faculty member who has come to Gettysburg within the past several years and whose teaching is recognized as outstanding by faculty colleagues. Each year, after a careful review of the teaching of all recent candidates for tenure, the Faculty Personnel Committee recommends one faculty member to receive this award. It is the highest honor the faculty can bestow upon a colleague.

This year’s recipient, Prof. Alex Trillo, obtained her PhD in organismal biology and ecology from the University of Montana. Before coming to Gettysburg College, she completed two joint postdoctoral fellowships, one at Butler University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the other at Colorado State University and the Peruvian Museum of Natural History.

At Gettysburg, Trillo teaches courses on animal behavior and entomology, as well as a tropical terrestrial biology course where she leads students through the Peruvian Amazon, using the forest as a living classroom. She is also actively engaged in efforts that support diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field of biology, and has co-organized several initiatives in this area at Gettysburg, including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Animal Behavior Society.

“I am very grateful for this award because it is a recognition that comes directly from my colleagues,” Trillo said. “Faculty at Gettysburg College not only excel at teaching, but they also hold teaching to very high standards, so being recognized for my teaching at this institution is a real honor. This award helps me see that I am on the right track and gives me the energy to continue to find ways to better engage and support students.”

The Dr. Robert E. Dutton ’46 Memorial Mentorship Award

French Prof. and Africana Studies Affiliate Florence Ramond Jurney

Headshot of Florence Ramond Jurney
Prof. Florence Ramond Jurney

The Dr. Robert E. Dutton ’46 Memorial Mentorship Award is presented annually to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in advising and mentoring students.

Prof. Florence Ramond Jurney, this year’s recipient of the Dutton Award, is a native of France and holds a doctorate in romance languages from the University of Oregon. Jurney’s scholarly interests include gender studies, post-colonial and cultural studies, as well as francophone studies. She specializes in the study of exile and migration in the Caribbean.

Since she arrived at Gettysburg College, Jurney has found many ways to involve students in her research and her life as an educator. She was a mentor to students through summer Mellon and Kolbe Fellowships, presented alongside students at professional conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and took senior seminar students on educational field trips to Paris in 2008 and 2014 to learn about immigrant literature and policies and the detective novel. On campus, she has enjoyed her administrative responsibilities as well as the mentorship of junior colleagues.

“Having been both a member and chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee, I know firsthand how incredible some of my colleagues are, and I am humbled by this award,” she said. “Many of us go to work every day excited to spark interest, looking to inspire, and share our love of the world we know. Being recognized for it is truly an honor.”

The JCCTL Excellence in Teaching Award

Computer Science Prof. Clifton Presser

Headshot of Clifton Presser
Prof. Clifton Presser

The JCCTL Excellence in Teaching Award is given annually to an exceptional teacher who is at least seven years beyond tenure but who is not on the point of retirement. This award is typically made on the basis of a faculty member’s quadrennial review with excellence in teaching as the primary deciding factor.

Prof. Clifton Presser, this year’s recipient, joined Gettysburg College in 2000. He completed his PhD in computer science at the University of South Carolina. At Gettysburg, Presser has taught a wide variety of courses on computer networks, operating systems, and computation theory, as well as a senior capstone course on advanced system design. He also served as chair of the computer science department for two terms. Presser’s research interests include scientific visualization, web applications, virtual reality, and game development. His current projects focus on procedural content generation for computer puzzles and games.

“Like all of my faculty colleagues, my career has been very focused on the needs of my students. This award is an acknowledgment that my work for these students is time well spent. It is also a recognition of all the support structures in the College that encourage student-focused teaching,” Presser said. “When I think about teaching success, I have to recognize the administration that makes the College run, academic advising for providing the glue which holds together students’ careers, IT for supporting infrastructure particularly in my field of computing, and of course, the JCCTL for making resources and workshops available to improve pedagogy.”

Learn more about Gettysburg College faculty awards and past recipients.

By Molly Foster
Photos by Gettysburg College and courtesy of Alex Trillo and Clifton Presser
Posted: 06/07/21