Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya was named the 26th recipient of the prestigious George Wythe Award, Buena Vista University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, at the annual Faculty/Staff Recognition Dinner on May 25.
Bhattacharyya, associate professor of religion, has been a member of the BVU faculty since 2002. She earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from Loma Linda University, master’s degrees in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and in Judaism and Christianity in antiquity from the University of Virginia, and a doctorate in religion and social ethics from the University of Southern California.
Bhattacharyya was nominated for the Wythe Award by fellow professors, professional colleagues, alumni and current students. She was also a finalist for the award in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2007, Bhattacharyya was named Faculty/Staff Volunteer of the Year.
“There are more professors at BVU that are deserving of this award than are not; so it truly is an honor to be nominated and even more so to actually receive this award,” says Bhattacharyya. “At BVU, I’ve been able to follow several areas of my own interests in developing courses and in my own research. I appreciate the focus and importance BVU places on teaching. This is evident in so many ways, not the least of which is this award, through faculty development opportunities and the support there is for providing students with a variety of different, hands-on, engaging experiences.”
“I am thankful for my fellow staff and faculty—individuals who all work very hard,” adds Bhattacharyya. “Staff throughout the university not only do a good job, they also anticipate needs and provide necessary information. Our faculty work together and collaborate on numerous projects, all with an eye toward learning.”
The Wythe Award includes a $30,000 cash stipend and a sabbatical for the recipient to pursue professional development and/or research. Since 2006, Bhattacharyya has been conducting interviews with individuals in India who have worked with M.K. Gandhi or Vinoba Bhave, the spiritual successor of Gandhi. Bhattacharyya says she will use the funds from the award to professionally transcribe the interviews and to travel to India to speak with others who are associated with Sarvodaya, an ideology developed by Gandhi meaning the ‘uplifting of all humanity.’ Bhattacharyya plans on using her sabbatical to begin writing a book based on the interviews.
The Award is endowed through a gift from the late BVU Life trustees Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle (Class of 1959).
“I am really thankful for visionaries like Paul and Vivian McCorkle,” she says. “They were individuals who clearly saw the value of investing in the lives of others: specifically educators. Their vision and generosity have been instrumental in numerous life-changing learning opportunities for so many throughout BVU.”
The other finalists for the 2012 Wythe Award were Dr. Scott Anderson, associate professor of marketing; Jason Shepherd, assistant professor of computer science; and Dr. Shawn Stone, associate professor of physics.
The award is named for George Wythe, the educator whose students included Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, James Monroe and Henry Clay.