James A. Strauss, teaching professor of biology at Penn State, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award, which was established in 1979 to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant and outstanding leadership and service contributions to the Eberly College of Science over a sustained period of time.
Strauss was nominated for the award in recognition of his work with Penn State's Faculty Senate, where he has served as an elected member for the past 20 years, including as secretary and chair. As chair, Strauss established and oversaw a plan that featured the establishment of a uniform titling and promotion pathway for non-tenure track faculty; ensured faculty membership on each of the Board of Trustees' committees; passed legislation requiring uniform learning objectives and goals for all Penn State courses and syllabi; advocated for student mental health, diversity and inclusion, and financial support; facilitated troubleshooting en route to launching Penn State's LionPATH courseware; and lobbied the Presidential Task Force on Healthcare for affordable health care plans for faculty and staff.
"It was an honor to serve as Faculty Senate chair and advocate for important student, faculty, and staff issues with our administration," Strauss said. "The chair charges and oversees 15 standing Faculty Senate committees, which perform the senate's discussion, debate, and legislative work. None of our accomplishments would be possible without the hard work of supportive committee chairs and their membership. The senate's office staff are also an integral part of our team; our executive director, Dan Hagan, our senior administrative assistant, Paula Brown, and her staff assistants were immensely helpful with scheduling meetings and campus visits, organizing complex agendas, and preparing scripts for our many meetings over the course of the year. Serving as chair has provided me with a wonderful view of the inner workings of our great University."
"Jim Strauss has made valuable contributions to Faculty Senate over the past 20 years, culminating in his leadership of substantial and important legislative changes that have benefited Penn State faculty, staff and students," added Tracy Langkilde, head of the biology department. "His impact will be felt for many years to come, and I believe he is highly deserving of this recognition."
Strauss was formally presented with his award at the fall 2019 Benefactor & Distinguished Faculty Recognition dinner.