Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Around the College

Celebrating 75 Years of Latin American Studies

UF students post an Inter-American Relations Society meeting announcement outside of the UF library in 1959.
UF students post an Inter-American Relations Society
meeting announcement outside of the UF library in
In honor of the Center for Latin American Studies’ first conference—held in February 1931—the center celebrated its 75th anniversary in February. At a commemorative event, Arturo Valenzuela, a political scientist and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, delivered the keynote address “The US and Latin America in the Post-Cold War Era: More of the Same?”

Latin American studies (LAS) on campus traces its roots to June 30, 1931, when UF President John J. Tigert announced the creation of the Institute for Inter-American Affairs, and as a demonstration of UF’s commitment to international good will, awarded an honorary degree to the Cuban ambassador to the United States, Orestes Ferrara. February also marked the 75th anniversary of the Plaza of the Americas. Currently, the center has 20 center-based faculty and professional staff members. Nearly half of the center’s 140-plus-affiliate faculty, spread across 50 departments and schools, are in CLAS. The “jewel” of LAS at UF is its Latin American Collection, which is the sixth largest in the nation and the largest collection internationally on the Caribbean.

French Ambassador Visits UF

Jean-David Levitte
French Ambassador to the United States
Jean-David Levitte
French Ambassador to the United States Jean-David Levitte spoke about relations between America and France, as well as the future of the European Union, to a crowd of more than 400 UF faculty and students in October. His visit was sponsored by the UF France-Florida Research Institute.

Levitte, who has been a French diplomat for more than 30 years, discussed the need for France and the US to move on from their disagreements over the war in Iraq, stating that although the French people did not support the war, they remain committed to the US, as evidenced by the millions of dollars in aid the country has poured into the Gulf Coast region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Levitte’s campus visit came on the heels of a three-day diplomacy visit to Louisiana.

Undergrads Receive Prestigious Scholarships

The Goldwater Foundation recently selected three UF students to receive a Goldwater Scholarship, including CLAS students Donald Burnette and Jeffrey Wong.

Burnette, a sophomore majoring in physics and mathematics, plans to earn a PhD in physics and to research at a top institution specializing in the study of the properties of materials within condensed matter physics. Wong, a junior, has a double major in microbiology and cell science and biochemistry. A Beckman Scholar and a Lombardi Scholar, Wong plans to earn a MD/PhD in molecular biology and to conduct research focused on developing breakthrough platform therapeutics for cancer and infectious disease.

Nationally, there were 323 Goldwater scholarships awarded for the 2006–2007 academic year given to sophomores and juniors from the US. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has selected two CLAS juniors as winners of its national scholarship for students preparing for careers in leadership in public service. Ashley Bittner, a history and political science double major, and Bruce Haupt, a political science major, have each received $30,000 for graduate school.

The Truman Foundation requires students to be nominated by their institution, and Bittner and Haupt are the only two students selected from Florida. In 2006, 75 students from 63 colleges and universities were selected as Truman Scholars.

Honoring Top Teachers and Advisors

CLAS recently presented 11 awards to its top teachers and advisors for 2005–2006. Students, faculty and staff nominated the winners, who exhibited qualities such as innovation, dedication and the ability to engage students. Three of the professors have been chosen to advance to the university-wide competition.

Yoonseok Lee, an assistant professor of physics who was named Physics Teacher of the Year in 2004, will compete for the UF Advisor of the Year award.

John Krigbaum, an assistant professor of anthropology, who began teaching at UF in 2002 was chosen as a candidate for the campus-wide Teacher of the Year Award.

Amy Ongiri, an assistant professor of English who came to UF in 2003, also will compete for UF Teacher of the Year.

The other CLAS advising award winner was Keith Berg from psychology. The college teaching award winners also include: Jeffrey Keaffaber, chemistry; Khandker Mutalib, physics; Kathy Navajas, Romance languages and literatures; Nicole Piquero, criminology, law and society; Nigel Richards, chemistry; Ewa Wampuszyc, Germanic and Slavic studies; and Barbara Zsembik, sociology.

Colburn to Advise on Access, Diversity

State University System of Florida Chancellor Mark Rosenberg has appointed History Professor David Colburn to serve as his senior advisor, a newly created position in the State University System. Colburn, who served as UF’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs from 1999 to 2004, will advise the chancellor and the Florida Board of Governors on higher education issues related to access and diversity. Colburn also has been elected to serve a two-year term as chair of the board of directors for the Florida Humanities Council. The nonprofit organization, established in 1973, is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Anthropology Professor is Woodrow Wilson Scholar

Brenda Chalfin, an assistant professor of anthropology, was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars during the spring semester. Chalfin, who works in the center’s African Program, is finishing a book on bureaucrats and neoliberal reform in Ghana and is researching a new project examining the politics, technologies and systems of meaning that are shaping international standards of border control.

The center awards approximately 20–25 residential fellowships annually to individuals with outstanding project proposals in a broad range of the social sciences and humanities on national and/or international issues.

Blue Key Honors CLAS Professors

As part of the university’s homecoming festivities in October, three CLAS professors were honored with 2005 Distinguished Faculty Awards from Florida Blue Key for their outstanding service and dedication to UF. German Professor Nora Alter, Psychology Professor Marc Branch and Communication Sciences and Disorders Professor Kenneth Gerhardt were among three of the six professors selected from across campus for the prestigious award. In the past four years alone, 11 of the 18 faculty members who have received these awards have been CLAS professors.

Lou Guillette
Lou Guillette

Zoologist Receives $1 Million for Undergrad Science Education

Lou Guillette, a UF distinguished professor of zoology, has been selected as one of 20 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professors and will receive $1 million during the next four years to support undergraduate science research efforts at UF.

As an HHMI professor, Guillette plans to build a multi-generational mentoring program involving high school students, university freshmen and sophomores, advanced undergraduates, graduate students and faculty at UF. He wants to train young faculty and graduate students to be effective mentors and to increase the numbers of undergraduates and high school students getting hands-on research experience, both in his lab and in the field.


Justin Bangs
Justin Bangs

Cambridge Bound

UF senior Justin Bangs has received a full scholarship to the University of Cambridge as one of 40 Gates Cambridge Scholars from the US. He will pursue a master’s degree in environment, society and development in the department of geography. An Orlando native, Bangs graduated in May with a double major in political science and history and a minor in women’s studies. He also was inducted into the CLAS Hall of Fame.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Cambridge scholarship in 2000 to enable outstanding young men and women from outside the United Kingdom to study as graduate students at the University of Cambridge.


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