Six more outstanding Philadelphia University faculty members have oeen named academic chairs, a prestigious designation that will provide support to advance research, support innovative projects and program development and enhance student learning on campus:
* Anusua Datta, associate professor of economics, was named the Robert P. ’76 and Kathleen F. Smith Term Chair for Economics.
* James Doerfler, director of the architecture and architectural studies programs, was named the Cheryl Smith, AIA, Term Chair for Architecture.
* Kimberlee Douglas, director of the landscape architecture program, was named the Anton Germishuizen/Stantec Term Chair for Landscape Architecture.
* Donald Dunham, associate professor of architecture and director of the M.S. in architecture program, was named the Amanda Weko Family Term Chair for Architecture.
* Jeanne Felter, director of the community and trauma counseling program, was named the Zeldin Family Foundation Chair in Community and Trauma Counseling.
* Barbara Hackley, associate professor of midwifery and program director for the doctorate in midwifery, was named the Dorothea Lang Term Chair in Midwifery.
Each of these prestigious chairs will provide a minimum of $5,000 per year over multiple years to support a wide range of faculty activities, including research and instructional innovations.
In all, 20 PhilaU faculty members have been awarded academic chairs since the start of the University’s now-completed record-breaking Power to Innovate capital campaign.
“Term chairs are a powerful tool to support faculty in their pursuits of excellence in scholarship and teaching,” said PhilaU Provost Matt Dane Baker. “We are very proud of these outstanding scholars and deeply grateful to their sponsors.”
Anusua Datta said it’s an honor to receive the Robert P. ’76 and Kathleen F. Smith Term Chair for Economics and thanks them for their support.
“In my many years at PhilaU, my students have been my greatest inspiration,” she said. “Challenging them with new ideas, working on research projects and helping them navigate through this phase of their life has been most rewarding. The term chair will allow me to work toward enhancing my own research, explore external funding sources and, most importantly, enhance undergraduate research and learning at PhilaU.”
Her educational background, extensive research and peer recognition—both nationally and internationally—is inspiring, said Robert Smith ’76, president/CEO of the IMARK Group and a member of the Kanbar College Advancement Council. “Couple Dr. Datta’s background with our deep-rooted feelings for the University, Kathy and I are honored to be able to support this term chair.”
Calling the term chair a “very special gift,” James Doerfler said he looks forward to using these funds to continue to develop his research into transdisciplinary teamwork and façade design and technology, as well as to create innovative architectural education at PhilaU.
“I met Cheryl Smith soon after I arrived at PhilaU in 2013, and we found many common interests,” he said. “As the chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the Building Enclosure Council, Cheryl connected me with her local network and made things happen more quickly than I could have done on my own. Cheryl has been a great supporter of the architecture program and the College, and I’m very honored and thankful for this additional support.”
Smith also chairs the Advancement Council for the College of Architecture and the Built Environment and said she has experienced firsthand the leadership that Doerfler brings to PhilaU.
“His work is evidenced through global connections and relationships with façade researchers where Jim provides the College with valuable resources and innovative ideas,” said Smith, principal of Cope Linder Architects LLC. “Jim’s teachings not only prepare the students for real-life careers, but his knowledge in building performance and sustainability will embolden the students to create healthier environments for everyone.”
Kimberlee Douglas said the funding in part will support the Lab for Urban and Social Innovation (LUSI), the community outreach arm of the College of Architecture and the Built Environment.
“Through the projects in LUSI, I’m interested in researching the effects of nature on children who live in poverty,” said Douglas, noting she’s using some of the funding for a collaborative research project with Thomas Jefferson University’s master of population health students to assess the impact of a small park her students designed.
“We believe in Philadelphia University and its teaching methodologies regarding design and the built environment as a result of firsthand experience with their graduates,” said Anton Germishuizen, senior vice president of buildings for Stantec and a member of the Advancement Council for the College of Architecture and the Built Environment. “Kim Douglas has shown tremendous commitment and passion through her curriculum, doing relevant work engaging our local communities. This work, which also aligns with our organization’s mission and values, has to be encouraged and supported.”
“I’m truly humbled by this honor, to say the least,” Donald Dunham said. “To be awarded the Amanda Weko Family Term Chair for Architecture is an amazing accolade. The term chair will provide me with the means to continue my research in architectural theory and technology—this is essential in design-based pedagogy.”
“Donald and I have worked closely on the student-produced annual design journal SPACEWORK,” she said. “Now in its fourth year, the book gives students an opportunity to learn about effective communication and discourse in the design professions, an area of focus for my own career. Donald’s patience, encouragement and expert guidance have empowered students to initiate and continue this publication.”
Weko has provided critical guidance as the consulting editor of the publication, Dunham added. “I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Jeanne Felter said the Zeldin Family Foundation’s generosity will give PhilaU’s community and trauma counseling program “an incredible opportunity” to further a critically important aspect of its mission: to meaningfully engage with and positively impact the Philadelphia community. The funding is currently being used to seed an interprofessional conference aimed at growing the city’s trauma-informed child-serving workforce.
“Unfortunately, almost half of U.S. children have experienced one or more traumatic events, and nearly one-third of youth ages 12-17 have experienced adversity in doses that can contribute to poor physical, social, emotional and educational outcomes across the lifespan,” she said. “Few professionals and paraprofessionals that interface with our city’s children have the knowledge and skills to appropriately address their trauma-related needs. As the only trauma-focused professional graduate program in the region, we’re uniquely qualified to lead this training conference, and we’re grateful to the Zeldin Family Foundation’s support, which propelled us to mobilize and enact our vision.”
Supporting children’s capacity to realize their potential is a primary focus of the Zeldin Family Foundation’s work, said trustee Marty Zeldin ’55, a long-time PhilaU supporter.
“We understand that among the numerous challenges that many children must overcome is healing from and making positive adjustments to trauma,” added Stefanie Zeldin, an officer with the foundation. “We were pleased to create the Zeldin Family Foundation Chair in Community and Trauma Counseling at Philadelphia University. Dr. Jeanne Felter and her colleagues are training professionals throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond not only to recognize and address trauma, but to arm children and families with the tools and knowledge needed to break free from harmful behaviors and create more positive, nurturing environments.”
Barbara Hackley described it as a high honor to be the recipient of the Dorothea Lang Term Chair, named for one of the founders of midwifery in the United States.
“Our goal at the Midwifery Institute at PhilaU is to continue her mission by establishing the first national doctoral program for midwifery in the nation,” Hackley said. “Our purpose in this program is to grow the profession by developing midwifery leaders in advocacy, education and clinical practice. The Dorothea Lang Term Chair will be used to establish scholarships, support faculty and create a nationally recognized program in midwifery.”