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College recognizes faculty achievements

Special to The Battalion

Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 01:10

College of Liberal Arts' fall reception

David Cohen

Incoming faculty and notable academic achievements were recognized by the College of Liberal Arts in a reception showcasing topics from shipwreck exploration to the awarding of various endowment funds.

Professors and students in the College of Liberal Arts came together at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center Monday night to congratulate the academic achievements of faculty and students as well as welcome new faculty members during the college’s fall reception. Six professors were awarded fellowships within the Rothrock and Cornerstone programs.

These awards are given to professors who have excellent professional records and have a high impact on students in the classroom. The recipients are given funding to continue with their future research projects and innovative teaching methods.

Four professors were appointed with endowments and professorships from various organizations to continue their research. One of the professors was also a new faculty member recruited from the University of Texas at Dallas. Catherine Coleman Eckel, the chair of the Sara and John Lindsey Professor in Liberal Arts, teaches economics and focuses on how social actions of people affect their financial decisions.

Upon receiving the appointment, Eckel said she hopes to do pilot research with new students and help send them to workshops, conferences and to help publish their work.

Eckel’s research on campus involves giving students real money and one of her psychological tests to study how charitable a person can be.

“How the way people interact with each other socially affects how they make decisions about their money,” Eckel said.

For others, like assistant professor of international studies, Natalie Khazaal, the reception was a formal welcome to Texas A&M University.

“It is a great opportunity to have a university support your teaching and especially your scholarly agenda,” Khazaal said.

Khazzal teaches Arabic culture, which includes Arab media, literature and language.

The headliner of the night was George F. Bass, the professor emeritus of the nautical archaeology department. Bass was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the academy that celebrates the leaders in the academic world.

Bass became interested in nautical archaeology when he was asked to go to Turkey to excavate a shipwreck. On his first underwater excavation he found that the ship, which was initially thought to be Greek, was in fact a near-eastern ship. His discovery changed the perception of the sailing history of near-eastern people, and the overall approach of nautical studies.

“I was the first person to excavate an ancient ship on a seabed in its entirety,” Bass said. “I was the first archaeologist who learned to dive in order to do it.”

It is because of that historic find and the amount of publications Bass put out that José Luis Bermúdez, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, calls Bass the father of nautical archaeology.

His find in Turkey and subsequent book received not one positive review. Initially, his finds were so controversial that nobody believed him. But in his next excavation his theories and thoughts turned out to be true and were publicly recognized.

“Looking back I can’t imagine a more rewarding career,” Bass said.


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