A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
February 9, 2006 Volume 36 / Number 5


Professional Achievement Honors

Professional Achievement Honors recognize faculty members who have distinguished themselves by engaging students in research and/or creative activities, enhanced high-quality learning environments both inside and outside the classroom, and are important contributors to the University’s present and its future. The five faculty members below are selected by the Academic Senate’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee from nominations made by deans.

Lisa Churchill, Professional Studies in Education, is an expert in the Special Education field, actively presenting and publishing nationally. An accomplished grant writer, Churchill has obtained several grants and contracts to support the University’s Special Education Program and its teacher candidates. She has also received numerous honors for the quality and innovation of the programs she and her colleagues design.

Churchill’s outstanding presentations and publishing are complemented by her dedication to student recruitment. Along with her colleagues, she has worked very hard to secure $900,000 in grants and contracts in support of the Special Education Program. This funding primarily supports credential candidates who, otherwise, may not be able to pursue a teaching credential.

While most regions in California have to use some teachers in their special education programs who have only emergency permits, this is the only region in the state that does not have emergency permit teachers. Because of Churchill’s outstanding work, all teachers who serve special populations in northeastern California are credentialed teachers.

Ron Hirschbein, Philosophy, has a long commitment to the cause of peace and the academic pursuit of knowledge about peace and war. In addition to numerous articles and paper presentations about peace, he has published books that explore the nature of international crises as well as the devolution of American politics. His most recent book is Massing the Tropes: The Metaphorical Construction of American Nuclear Strategy (Praeger).

In addition to his scholarly work, Hirschbein has studied and taught about conflict resolution at several distinguished universities. He has also served as president of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and has been active in other peace-oriented organizations. In 2004–2005, he helped organize the Peace Institute at CSU, Chico.

Hirschbein is committed to introducing students to rigorous and careful consideration of topics associated with conflict resolution. During the summer of 2005, he helped organize a three-week trip to Northern Ireland for 15 CSU, Chico students to study the roots of the conflict and the successful peacemaking effort in that country.

William M. Murphy, Geological and Environmental Sciences, conducts international research with leading scientists in geochemistry. He teaches across the curriculum in his department and works with undergraduate and graduate students.

Murphy has published or submitted for publication numerous articles and abstracts, many of the abstracts involving students or other faculty as co-authors.

Murphy’s speaking engagements include session chair and invited speaker at the Symposium on the Scientific Basis for Nuclear Waste Management in 2004 and keynote speaker at the V.M. Goldschmidt Conference in 2005. He has also been visiting professor at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and was instrumental in creating an exchange of graduate students from ENS to visit and work with students and faculty at CSU, Chico.

In recognition of his expertise in the field of nuclear waste disposal, Murphy serves as an administrative judge for the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Byron Wolfe, Communication Design, is a nationally recognized photographer whose work has been published in several books during the last three years. His photography has appeared in numerous exhibitions across the country and also appears in the permanent installation of Chico’s Open Board Art Project.

Wolfe’s work as a contributing photographer and as the designer and programmer of The Third View project DVD-ROM and Web site has been presented in numerous local, national, and international venues. He received first place in the black and white category of the Vision 2002 Awards at the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts. He is also a silver award recipient of the Horizon Interactive Award and will publish Everyday (Chronicle Books), a collection of photographs from each day spanning a full year.

In addition to his professional skills, Wolfe is a gifted instructor and routinely engages students through involvement in developing his photographic projects. He has been curator and director for CSU, Chico’s Annual Student Photography Show since 1999. His summer photography workshops have been held at Yale University and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado. He is also an advisor for the Butte Community College Department of Art.

Xueli Zou, Physics, has utilized her experiences as a two-time National Science Foundation research scholar to develop pedagogy for the introductory physics courses at CSU, Chico. Engineering and science majors taught with this pedagogy have shown consistent, measurable improvement in conceptual understanding of physics when compared to traditional teaching methods.

Zou has been invited to speak at numerous academic meetings throughout the country and is the co-author of two textbooks. She is also the author of several peer-reviewed publications in physics education research. Currently, she is working on a textbook and ancillary materials for teaching introductory electricity and magnetism. Simultaneously, she is developing assessment tools to measure high-level thinking skills in the Bloom taxonomy.