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TTU News

This spring, Tennessee Tech University will recognize three of its faculty members for their commitment to teaching and professional service.

Each of the three is being recognized for making an outstanding contribution to their fields and in their students’ lives.

Pedro E. Arce, professor and chair of TTU’s chemical engineering department, will receive the Outstanding Faculty Award for Professional Service.

Julie Stepp, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Bruce Greene, professor of animal science, will each receive an Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching.

Arce has been at TTU since 2003, coming at a time when the chemical engineering department was in the midst of a period of change and transition.

“Dr. Arce has worked tirelessly and energized the faculty, and transformed the department and its program,” said Francis Otuonye, associate vice president for Research. “His excellent interpersonal skills, interest in students’ learning and mentoring have endeared him to many students. Dr. Arce is truly an outstanding educator, and his record of success in mentoring students is noteworthy.”

Arce has served as mentor to more than 130 students, from undergraduate to doctoral candidates. He has served in a variety of professional organizations including the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and the American Society of Engineering Education and has received dozens of awards for his contributions to the field. He has written more than 120 published papers and given more than 200 research presentations, including more than 50 invited plenary, keynotes and/or named lectures.

“Quick with a smile and committed to excellence, Dr. Arce displays a positive attitude and devotion to the university that is among the best of the entire faculty,” said James Gray, associate director of Admissions at TTU. “I feel confident whenever a prospective student interacts with Dr. Arce that we have an excellent chance that they will choose to enroll at TTU.”

Arce completed his undergraduate degree at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral Santa Fe, in Argentina and his master’s and doctoral degrees at Purdue University in Indiana. All of his degrees are in chemical engineering.

Julie Stepp has worked at TTU since 2003, but has been on campus on and off since the 1980s. She graduated from TTU with a bachelor’s degree in math, held a position in the TTU library while earning her master’s from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and returned to Cookeville to earn her doctoral degree in exceptional learning, graduating in 2008.

“Dr. Stepp’s love for teaching is not only reflected in her evaluations but also in the enthusiasm for learning that is so evident in her students,” said Jeremy Wendt, interim chair of TTU’s curriculum and instruction department. “Her students seem captivated throughout her courses that move beyond standard lecture and into an environment that is inviting, yet remains professional with high expectations.”

In her time leading a classroom at TTU, Stepp has created, redesigned or otherwise changed several courses in the department and is working to develop a concentration in library science for the university’s specialist in education degree program. She is involved in a variety of professional organizations for librarians and participates in several community service projects with area public schools to promote a love of reading.

“In my experience, Dr. Stepp’s students almost invariably come across as enthusiastic about assignments and class meetings. It seems as though Dr. Stepp is truly inspiring her students to become lifelong learners and readers,” said Brooke Brown, a librarian in the College of Education’s Learning Resources Center. “What better statement is there to an educator’s success?”

Stepp has also presented at more than 20 academic conferences and written several papers.

Bruce Greene has been at Tennessee Tech since 1991, working his way up through the ranks of assistant and associate to full professor. He served as the interim director of the School of Agriculture in 2010.

“I have been involved in education for over 30 years and I have never known anyone who approached teaching and advising with more genuineness,” said Billye Foster, assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. “The word mentor does not really touch the relationships Dr. Greene cultivates with his students – he seems to roll mentor, father and friend into one being and caps it off with sincerity from the heart.”

Greene serves as an adviser for several clubs and student organizations at TTU, and several have given him awards for the work he has done with them. Among others, he advises the Delta Tau Alpha agricultural honor society, TTU’s pre-vet club and the 4-H club. He has worked to bring agriculture education to others in the community, working with the Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Awareness Program, quiz bowls and TTU’s Merit Badge University.

“I can easily say that, through my involvement with such a dedicated professor, my academic experience at Tech has been taken above and beyond even my highest expectations as a student,” said TTU senior agriculture major Kelsey Scott, of Baxter. “Dr. Greene has seen me through basically every major milestone of my collegiate career and he has done nothing but support and push me every step of the way.”

Greene has served on a variety of university, college and school committees. He has also written approximately 40 papers and given more than a dozen research presentations. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Berea College in Kentucky and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The three were presented their awards at TTU’s spring luncheon forum April 29.