Prof Valerie Banschbach receives 2012 Service Award at St Michael's College Academic Convocation
Jericho resident, Dr. Valerie S. Banschbach, Saint Michael's College professor of biology, received the 2012 Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award, presented in ceremonies held September 28 at the annual Saint Michael's College Academic Convocation in the SMC McCarthy Arts Center. Professor Banschbach was selected by her faculty colleagues, and the citation was read by last year’s recipients of the award, chemistry professor Dr. Bret Findley and religious studies professor, Dr. Edward Mahoney.
A survey of the curricular landscape in higher education reveals a new focus at many institutions on interdisciplinary study of the environment. There is a growing recognition that industry, government, and society at large need a cadre of professionals who know enough about natural science, public policy, and humanistic values related to the environment to become effective leaders in helping preserve our planet.
Valerie Banschbach recognized this need and, in collaboration with many others, spearheaded the creation of the Environmental Studies major at Saint Michael’s College. Overnight it became one of the most popular majors in our curriculum. There had been earlier pioneers, of course, since the College had long had an Environmental Science program and an Environmental Studies minor. But Valerie and her team created something brand new, modeled on programs at other schools, but with unique Saint Michael’s twists, and with more scientific rigor than many other programs of its type. For this extraordinary service of shepherding an important new major to its birth, the College will forever be in Valerie’s debt.
Service has come naturally to Valerie throughout her career. Since coming to Saint Michael’s in 1997, she has been on virtually every committee that exists at the College. The list includes, but is not limited to, Human Subjects, Admissions and Financial Aid, Faculty Council, and Faculty Welfare. After chairing the Faculty Council in 2009-10, Valerie thought it was important for someone with Council experience to run for Welfare, so even though others might have dialed back on major committee service while leading the creation of a new major, Valerie put herself forward and brought her wealth of experience to the Welfare Committee.
Eastern Chittenden County has also benefitted from Valerie’s spirit of service, as she has served on the Underhill ID School Board since 2006 and in two of those years, including the current one, she has been on the Executive Committee of the Chittenden East Supervisory Union. She also serves her profession as manuscript reviewer for eight different refereed journals.
Valerie has never let her dedication to service diminish her teaching and scholarship. She has helped to develop and lead innovative new courses, including study trips to Costa Rica and India. She is widely published in her field, and her research often involves undergraduates, a paradigm perfectly suited to the sort of teaching and learning prized at a college like Saint Michael’s. For all her contributions in the realm of service, Saint Michael’s College is proud to award the 2012 Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award to Valerie S. Banschbach.