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Dr. Caroline Cox, left, and Dr. Macelle Mahala, right, have been honored for their dedication to their students and their academic pursuits.

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Faculty Honored for Excellence and Dedication

Dr. Macelle Mahala, Theater Arts, and Dr. Caroline Cox, History, have been recognized for their commitment and scholarship.
Jun 17, 2014

The College of the Pacific is pleased to announce the winners of the Stephen E. Corson Award for Distinguished Teaching of Freshmen and the Faye and Alex Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award.

The Corson Award goes to a faculty member who has demonstrated extraordinary skill at and commitment toward teaching, mentoring, and advising first year students. To be eligible for this award, a faculty member must hold a tenure-track line in the College of the Pacific and have a proven record of distinction in the teaching of freshmen for a minimum of four semesters. The Spanos Award is awarded for distinguished teaching, based on a career of teaching of at least fifteen years, ten of which are completed here at the College of the Pacific.

"These awards are indeed bestowed on the most distinguished faculty at the College of the Pacific," said Dean Rena Fraden. "I am proud to be their colleague."

The recipient of the 2014 Corson Award is Macelle Mahala, Professor of Theater Arts. The committee noted that significant impact Professor Mahala had on her students, her home department, and her Pacific seminar courses. One of the nomination letters stated that she is an "exemplary individual, dedicated to the full academic life: teaching, research, and scholarship/creative endeavor."

"I really enjoy teaching smaller classes, since it makes for a more personal experience, and a different level of interaction and instruction," says Mahala, who teaches Beginning Acting, Introduction to Theatre, Theatre Heritage, Directing and Playwriting in addition to Pacific Seminar 1, "What is a Good Society?" which is a required class for all Pacific freshmen. "I teach theatre, and it takes place in a social environment. Creating a classroom environment where the student feels comfortable expressing themselves, and learning about other students and the course materials, can really shape and help your academic experience."

While the first year of college can be a time of adjustment and change for many college freshmen, Mahala also points out that it can be a time of tremendous growth.

"Be open to new ideas, meeting new kinds of people, and be open to new interests and new courses," Mahala says.

The 2014 Spanos Award honoree is Caroline Cox, Professor of History. The committee wrote that Professor Cox's "outstanding accomplishments as a teacher and mentor (not just to students but for faculty as well)," accompanied by her wonderful scholarship and excellence in campus citizenship made her a perfect fit for the Spanos Award. Her "dedication, responsibility, and demanding yet compassionate" work with students is well noted in the nomination letters.

"I have to thank my colleague Gesine Gerhard for putting the nomination packet together - it's no small task," acknowledged Cox, who came to Pacific in 1998. Cox became a professor after a successful career in finance, spurred by the desire for more knowledge and a passion for teaching. At Pacific, Cox teaches United States History Survey, History of Warfare, Colonial America, American Revolution, African American History, Civil War Era, Senior Capstone Seminar and Pacific Seminar III.

During her own educational journey, Cox says that the most memorable professors were the ones who went out of their way to share their passion for their field of study with their students.  

"The size of the class or the subject matter didn't matter - it was the humor, enthusiasm, presentation and passion that the professor brought to the classroom that made all the difference," Cox says. "Teaching is very much a performance art; you bring a lot of yourself to the classroom."

And Cox encourages students to think outside the box when it comes to education, and to value the journey, not just the destination.

"Education comes in many directions, as my own experience indicates," says Cox, who began her college studies at age 30. "If something gets in the way of your pursuit of education, it is not the end of the world - it's just another path. Over years, I have become more adamant about that. Innovative thinking comes from a broad range of backgrounds."