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Liberal Arts and Sciences honors 2 alumni, 3 faculty members

ASU alumnus Spencer Silver, who in 1968 discovered a formula for the slightly tacky adhesive on the back of those ubiquitous Post-it® Notes, is this year's recipient of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Award.

The award, the highest honor the college confers to a graduate who has achieved professional distinction, will be presented Oct. 30, along with Distinguished Achievement and Distinguished Faculty Awards, as part of this year's Homecoming Week festivities.

College graduate Samantha Johnson will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni, citizens of Arizona or others who contribute to the advancement of the college.

David William Foster, Nancy Jurik and Ronald Rutowski will receive Distinguished Faculty Awards, which are given to faculty members who exemplify the college's mission of instructional excellence, special dedication to students and performance that makes an impact in the community or a professional field.

Spencer Silver, who earned an ASU bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1962 and a doctorate in 1966 from the University of Colorado, was a 3M scientist when he invented a microsphere adhesive, comprised of tiny bubbles, that caused the substance to stick only slightly to surfaces. Years later, 3M colleague Art Fry came up with a practical use for the glue – Post-it® Notes.

In recent years, with more than two dozen patents to his credit, Silver has turned his creative energy to art and is an accomplished painter in pastels and oils.

"My desire is to find an artistic bridge between the practical and theoretical aspects of chemistry and the allegorical and fantasy world of images from plants and landscape," he writes on his Web site www.spencerfsilver.com. With a studio that is now his laboratory, Silver says of his art: "You will see lots of trees, leaves, flowers and whirly things with dots and dashes that try to deal with chemistry in a non-deterministic way."

In 2004, Silver was selected to the University of Colorado Heritage Center's "Hall of Excellence." He also is the 1998 recipient of the Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society, which is given to an inventor for the successful application of research in chemistry or chemical engineering that contributes to the material prosperity and happiness of people.

Samantha Johnson, a case manager for Mercy Care Plan, actively pursued servant leadership while a student at ASU, assisting with a national conference on women with disabilities. She graduated in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in women's studies and has expanded her service and leadership to the broader community by serving on the city of Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues and on the Phoenix Women's Commission.

Johnson is a founding board member of Arthritis Introspective, which provides wellness education and support systems to persons living with arthritis. She has been recognized for her activism with a "Forty Under 40" award from the Phoenix Business Journal. She also was named to "Real Hot 100," a group of young women from around the country who are breaking barriers, fighting stereotypes and making a difference in their communities.

This will be the second ASU alumni award given to Johnson. In 2007, she received the ASU Young Alumni Achievement award.

David William Foster is a Regents' Professor of Spanish, the humanities and women's studies, but even this expansive title does not fully encompass his interests and accomplishments. A noted scholar of Spanish and Portuguese literature, film and cultural studies, he also is an eminent authority on the history and urban landscape of Phoenix.

An ASU faculty member since 1966, Foster's scholarly articles count in the hundreds. He is an influential figure in the study of Latin American literature and film, Latin American Jewish studies and Latin American photography. One of his new projects is a pioneering examination of Latin American documentary filmmaking. He has received funding for and organized five National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminars: two for high school teachers and three for college and university faculty. He was an Outstanding Graduate Mentor in 1980, Researcher of the Year in 1994, and a Last Lecturer selection in 1999.

Foster, a professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures, also is a highly conscientious teacher. One student wrote the he "is extremely knowledgeable about the subject and conveys clear enthusiasm about what he is teaching."

Nancy Jurik's dedication to students can be seen both through her individual teaching and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. One graduate student sums it up this way: "Dr. Jurik possesses a unique talent of making students feel comfortable in the classroom, which in turn leads them to her when they need advice and guidance."

For the past three years, Jurik has served as graduate director for justice and social inquiry. As a result of her intense mentoring, Jurik's graduate students have uniformly completed their program in a timely manner. She also has served as chair or member of 15 completed doctoral committees, including chair of six. She has also served as chair or member of more than 40 master's committees and a dozen honor's thesis committees.

Her knack for mentoring lead Jurik to design, and for many years supervise, a writing mentorship program in justice and social inquiry. In the decade it's been in existence, the program has provided assistance to more than 1,000 students.

Jurik, a sociologist in the School of Social Transformation, has been an ASU faculty member since 1981. She is a past recipient of the college's Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award.

Ronald Rutowski is an internationally recognized researcher, scholar and undergraduate educator. He steadfastly and aggressively creates opportunities, expands access, offers training and leadership, and establishes an atmosphere of growth and empowerment in ASU's School of Life Sciences, most particularly for the next generation of scientists. He has been described in student reviews as "awesome, always helpful and concerned, accessible, an excellent professor and enthusiastic teacher, dedicated, interesting informative, entertaining and approachable, motivating."

From 1988-1992, Rutowski was director of undergraduate programs in the former department of zoology. Since 2006, he has served as director of the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program, where he led an expansion of undergraduate research opportunities with the development of the Arizona Biosciences Network – matching students with mentors from Arizona's businesses, industry, research groups and medical institutions. More than 1,000 students have participated in the program.

Since joining ASU in 1976, Rutowski has contributed roughly $17 million in support for undergraduate research and interdisciplinary training in the sciences, including two Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards, two National Science Foundation awards, and a Beckman Scholars Program award.