Three Faculty Named 1885 Society Distinguished Scholars

Three Faculty Named 1885 Society Distinguished Scholars

By Jeff JavierUA Foundation
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Melissa Fitch
Melissa Fitch
David Marcus
David Marcus
David Raichlen
David Raichlen

Three UA faculty members have been named 1885 Society Distinguished Scholars for demonstrating leadership in their fields and a commitment to student engagement.

The 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar awards are presented annually, and recipients are given $10,000. The award is supported by and named after the 1885 Society, a donor leadership group dedicated to furthering excellence at the UA by providing an annual, consistent source of funding to the UA Office of the President. In addition to the distinguished scholars program, the 1885 Society has supported graduate student fellowships, a faculty chair, UA outreach and the heritage collection in the newly renovated Old Main.

Since the distinguished scholars program started in 2012, $130,000 has been awarded to mid-career faculty across campus to recognize their achievements and support their continued growth as campus leaders. Contributions to the 1885 Society also support the goals of Arizona NOW, the UA's largest comprehensive fundraising campaign ever.

Joan Sweeney, a 1981 UA alumna, has been an 1885 Society member since 2013. She said UA President Ann Weaver Hart is an effective steward of the funds raised through the 1885 Society.

"The University of Arizona is only as good as its people, and I am more than happy to support star faculty who do so much for students and make a difference in our communities," she said. 

The following recipients join 10 previously selected colleagues whose fields of study reflect the University's diverse areas of strength.

Melissa Fitch, Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Fitch's current scholarship examines the global diffusion of Latin American popular culture within the world's two most populous countries, China and India, in light of globalization, transnationalism and the rise of social media.

Popular culture often presents unexamined assumptions about other cultures or peoples, which can be, at best, problematic, and at worst, dangerous. These ideas generally underscore the superiority of the more powerful country in the equation. In the past, this was the United States, something that was reinforced through the movie and television industry, but increasingly it encompasses the various countries of the emerging economies.

"The excitement of each new discovery I have made in my research has been directly integrated into my teaching. I think this has led to a similar level of curiosity, commitment and engagement on the part of my students, leading them to exciting discoveries of their own," Fitch said.  

David Marcus, Professor, James E. Rogers College of Law

Marcus has made groundbreaking innovations in the way law is interpreted. Specifically, he researches how the law resolves disputes between private individuals and corporations, and what process is fair, least costly and most likely to reach the right results.

His scholarship in civil procedure has been widely cited and helps legal scholars, students and practitioners understand the current civil procedure and its historical development. One of his courses involves drafting briefs for complex cases currently in progress, an exercise that bridges theory and practice together, and he has received two awards for teaching excellence.

"The award will enable me to pursue the sort of interdisciplinary study of American civil litigation that I've been trying to start for years. I will examine a number of aspects of civil litigation that affect millions of lives, but have gone mostly ignored by legal scholars up to now," Marcus said. 

David Raichlen, Associate Professor, School of Anthropology

A biological anthropologist focusing on the evolution of human movement, Raichlen has conducted research tied to major evolutionary transitions in physical activity that define, in part, the success of the human lineage through the links among exercise, physiology and neurobiology.

In 2013, he presented his research on the evolutionary links between exercise and happiness during the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' inaugural Downtown Lecture Series. His lecture drew thousands from the Tucson community and he was able to present evidence from human evolutionary history to illuminate how we can change our mood – in effect, how we can increase our happiness – through our actions. 

"The most rewarding aspects of my work at the UA are collaborating with faculty across disciplines to take new approaches to cross-cutting questions, and disseminating research findings to both students and to the broader Tucson community," Raichlen said.

A committee of Distinguished and Regents' Professors from across campus selects the 1885 Society Distinguished Scholars. Candidates are evaluated on national and international achievements, groundbreaking innovation and their contributions to teaching and community impact.

"Recipients of the 1885 Society Distinguished Scholars Award bring distinction to the University of Arizona and are the leading experts in their fields," Hart said. "Their innovative research and deep commitment to student engagement make them a model of the vision set in the UA's Never Settle strategic plan, and we are truly fortunate that the 1885 Society allows us to recognize their work with this award."

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