Faculty honors professors

When Gannon University students walk down the hall of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, they can see the faces of some of the school’s most beloved professors. These are the faces of educators who have received the Distinguished Professors award.

Behind each portrait is a professor who has shown dedication to teaching and not only fulfills, but exceeds, all requirements.

The recipients of the Distinguished Professors award are known for their excellence in scholarship, teaching and service to Gannon University.

Gannon faculty members will present 2011’s Distinguished Professors honor to David Kozak, Ph.D., a professor in the political science department, and the Rev. Joseph Gregorek, Ph.D., a professor in the biology department, at 3 p.m. Friday in the Palumbo Academic center. The particular beauty behind the tribute is the fact that colleagues nominated and chose both men.

“Usually this award goes to one professor each year,” Sally LeVan, Ph.D., a professor in the English department and director of the Faculty Senate, said. “However, this year, I pushed for both.

“Letters were sent from everywhere recommending both candidates highly.”

Kozak and Gregorek are both Gannon alumni and have spent the better halves of their lives at Gannon.

Kozak said he is both humbled and delighted at this honor.

“Words can’t really express how I feel,” he said. “I am both pleased and honored that my colleagues would choose me.”

Kozak knew many of the past recipients of this award, and he said these professors were an inspiration to him.

“Gannon was a launching pad for me,” he said. “I could have never achieved the things I have without this university.”

One of these achievements includes his 34-year marriage. He and his wife, MaryAnne – a graduate of the first female class at Gannon – met during their college years and married shortly after her graduation.

“As far as I know, we are the first Gannon graduates to marry,” Kozak said.

He said Gannon truly means a lot to him.

“I was able to spend two years teaching at West Point – one of the best liberal arts schools in the country – and they have nothing on Gannon,” he said. “My students here have been every bit as wonderful as the students I encountered there.”

Kozak said he feels that one is never a distinguished professor on one’s own, because colleagues and students are a big part of one’s achievements. He views this award as an affirmation of all the work he has done at Gannon.

After 35 years at Gannon, Gregorek also has an extensive body of work. But this testament to his efforts still came as a shock to the veteran professor.

“When I heard I was receiving this award last year, I was surprised and really honored that my peers chose me,” Gregorek said. “Some of my former students may want to see me hanged, but, instead, my portrait will be.”

Since 1964, when he began teaching at Gannon, Gregorek said he has seen, firsthand, the growth of the university and the changes in the generations of students.

He has taught students who have become doctors, and then he has taught their children years later. He said that he is the teacher that he is, “because of the students I’ve taught who have gone on to excel in life.”

Gregorek said being a priest taught him great obedience, and a patience that most teachers never find.

In a personal sense, LeVan said that Gregorek is a very important part of her life. Having known him for more than 30 years, LeVan describes him as both a “dedicated servant of God,” and instrumental in her son David LeVan’s choice to be an instructor of occupational therapy.

“Both men have given so much to Gannon,” LeVan said.

“It is truly an honor for us to honor them.”

DIANE CASSARLY

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