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For the second time since the program's inception in 1986, Old Dominion has two winners in the same year of an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

This year's honorees, Dwight W. Allen and Sushil K. Chaturvedi, are among only 11 faculty members statewide who were selected for the prestigious 2001 awards, the commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. The awards recognize demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and public service. Twelve Old Dominion faculty have won SCHEV awards to date, including John Toomey, associate professor of music, who was honored last year, and Daniel Dauer (biological sciences) and Chris Drake (geography), the university's first "double winners" in 1999.

Allen, eminent professor of urban education, and Chaturvedi, professor and chair of mechanical engineering, were honored Feb. 16 at a special ceremony at the State Capitol and a reception at the executive mansion in Richmond. They each received a check for $5,000 and an engraved plaque from SCHEV, which administers the program.

Eighty-five faculty members statewide were nominated for the 2001 awards. Allen and Chaturvedi are among 162 Virginia faculty members who have been bestowed this high honor since the program began.

Allen, in his 24th year at Old Dominion, has long been known for his creativity, scholarship and teaching. He is the principal investigator in ACCT NOW (Aligning Certification with Technology Training), a $1.3 million federal project linking teacher training at Old Dominion with Brunswick County, Va., schools, and last year he and entertainer Bill Cosby wrote "American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge," which was published exclusively online. The book presented a challenge to the new online captains of industry: produce $100 billion to help reform, revamp and reinvent our schools.

The two met while Allen was dean of the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst between 1968 and 1975 and recruited nontraditional students, including Cosby, into a program that accepted students who hadn't completed bachelor's degrees.

Since 1998, Allen has served as international technical adviser to the United National Development Programme for China, improving compulsory education in poor areas. He was a co-founder and principal consultant helping restructure Norfolk Public Schools between 1993 and 1998. He has served as a consultant on education reforms in India, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Israel, Uganda, Namibia and several school systems in the United States.

He has also consulted with the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund on education matters.

Known for his innovation in the field of education, Allen developed the concept of the field-based master's degree program at Old Dominion, which has been offered in school districts throughout the region for nearly 20 years. He taught the first televised course at the university, and developed and taught the first totally asynchronous online Web-based course offered via TELETECHNET.

Allen received the Tonelson Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service from Old Dominion in 1997. He also received the Association of Virginia Colleges Outstanding Award in 1985 and is the namesake of Allen Hall at the National Teacher Training College in Lesotho, a country in southeastern Africa, for his role as founding chief technical adviser.

From 1978 to 1985, Allen held a joint appointment at Old Dominion and Norfolk State University. He taught at Stanford from 1959 to 1967 and was a secondary school teacher from 1957-59.

Students in Allen's classes enjoy his teaching, according to university evaluations.

He is "knowledgeable and insightful," said one student in Allen's Social and Cultural Foundations of Education class. "I like his ability to 'think big' and encourage students to do the same."

Another said Allen is "the best teacher. He makes class lots of fun and makes a student feel good. I would recommend him to everyone."

Allen also has been among the most active faculty in recruiting students from abroad, attracting more international visiting scholars and working professionally in more international venues than any other professor at Old Dominion.

A member of the Old Dominion faculty since 1978, Chaturvedi is known for his abounding energy, outstanding teaching and dedicated service to the institution, community and profession.

He is the recipient of 14 teaching awards and honors, including the 2000 Pletta Award from the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers as the Virginia engineering educator of the year. Chaturvedi also has received Old Dominion's prestigious Alan Rufus Tonelson Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching, Research and Service (1999), the Pi Tau Sigma Professor of the Year Award, three American Society of Mechanical Engineering Outstanding Faculty awards, and three most inspiring faculty awards as selected by the top undergraduate in the engineering college.

"Dr. Chaturvedi is a gifted teacher," said William Swart, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. "His highly enthusiastic, energetic and often inspiring classroom demeanor ignites in students an immense passion for learning."

He is also known as an innovator. Using two university faculty development grants, Chaturvedi developed videotaped "help sessions" for students in his introductory and advanced thermodynamics classes. The tapes, used by students as a supplementary tool, help them achieve a deeper understanding of many difficult concepts.

According to Chaturvedi, an effective and inspiring teacher must have five essential qualities: excellent knowledge of the subject materials, outstanding communication skills, a caring attitude toward students, tough classroom standards, and continual innovations in instructional materials and techniques.

"I believe that I have traveled a long way on the road to teaching excellence but still have more distance to cover before reaching my ultimate goal," he said.

A pioneer in television-based distance learning, Chaturvedi was among the first faculty to offer televised courses at Old Dominion in 1987 on the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, a predecessor of TELETECHNET.

More recently, he chaired the Global Engineering Taskforce of the College of Engineering and Technology, which developed an upper-level general education cluster titled "Global Engineering in an Interconnected World." It has put Old Dominion in a leadership role by preparing engineering and business majors to work in a globally and culturally diverse environment.

Chaturvedi's research in the area of solar energy has received national and international recognition, and his research in energy-conserving solar heat pumps has been adopted by such industrial giants as Sharp Corp. of Japan. Chaturvedi has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than 25 research contracts valued at more than $1 million, and was awarded two U.S. patents in critical areas of energy conservation and testing of the national aerospace plane models in hypersonic wind tunnels.

"Dr. Chaturvedi has a keen ability to take complicated concepts and break them down into their fundamental components during instruction," according to one former student.

Another student noted, "Dr. Chaturvedi should hold classes to teach other instructors his teaching methods - he's that good!"

This article was posted on: February 15, 2001

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