May 6, 2009
Dear Friend of Idaho State University,
At spring commencement May 9 in Holt Arena, we will recognize three professors for distinguished achievements in research, teaching and public service. These gifted scholars were selected by their peers from an impressive list of finalists—all of whom represent the intellectual depth, talent and diversity of our faculty.
The recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Researcher Award is Dr. Russell Wahl, professor and director of the philosophy program; the top Public Service honoree is Dr. Cynthia Hill, an economics professor and interim director of the Center for Teaching and Learning; and the Distinguished Teacher is Dr. James Aho, professor of sociology.
Professor Wahl earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University in 1982. He joined the ISU faculty in 1985, and has spent five summers as a professor at Harvard University. His research has focused on two periods in the history of philosophy: the Early Modern Period (17th century) and the analytic philosophy of the early 20th century. His work focuses on the philosophers Descartes, Russell and Wittgenstein and has been published in several high-level publications.
As a volunteer with the Gateway Habitat for Humanity and the current president of its Board of Directors, Dr. Hill has devoted countless hours to organizing fund drives, writing grants and working to provide affordable housing for Pocatellans. A Washington State University graduate, Dr. Hill coordinates the "Reading Is Leading" book drive and reading campaign for disadvantaged youth.
Dr. Aho, who also earned a doctorate from Washington State University, has been teaching at ISU since 1970 in the areas of religion, violence and social phenomenology. Students rave about his ability to motivate and inspire. "My whole outlook on life has changed because of his class," wrote one student. Another said Dr. Aho's lectures were so engaging, he hated to miss class.
And speaking of students, last Saturday I had the honor of conferring 155 health professions degrees at ISU-Boise's commencement—our largest class ever in the Treasure Valley. This Saturday at commencement in Pocatello, the University will award 2,407 degrees, and I look forward to shaking the hand of every graduate who crosses that stage.
Please join me in congratulating our distinguished faculty honorees and the Class of 2009!
One final note: I hope you have received a copy of the spring edition of Idaho State University Magazine. Take a look at the online version, which has many multimedia features you won't find in the print version. See it at www.isu.edu/magazine.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University