Jazz Director, Spanish Professor Cited by Lawrence University for Teaching Excellence

Fred Sturm was honored a second time for his teaching prowess and assistant professor of Spanish Rosa Tapia was recognized for her classroom contributions as a junior faculty member Sunday, June 12 at Lawrence University’s 156th commencement.

Sturm, director of jazz and improvisational music, was presented Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, given annually to a faculty member for outstanding performance in the teaching process, including the quest to ensure students reach their full development as individuals, human beings and future leaders of society.

Tapia was cited with the Young Teacher Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth.

Sturm, who received Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in 1983, is one of only five faculty members to earn both teaching honors. Last month, he was appointed to the Kimberly-Clark Professorship in Music.

A 1973 Lawrence graduate who directed the college’s first student-designed jazz ensemble as a 19-year-old sophomore, Sturm returned to his alma mater in 1977 as a member of the conservatory of music faculty. He left in 1991 to teach at his other alma mater, the Eastman School of Music in New York, where he earned a master’s degree in music composition in 1984, then returned to Lawrence in 2002.

Sturm’s jazz compositions and arrangements have been performed by Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry, among others, and have been issued on numerous record labels, including Concord Jazz, RCA and Warner Brothers Records. He earned a Grammy Award nomination in 1988 and was named the 2003 recipient of the prestigious ASCAP/IAJE Commission In Honor of Quincy Jones, a prize granted annually to one established jazz composer of international prominence.

“Your jazz ensembles have received national recognition for outstanding performance from Downbeat magazine and your jazz composition and arranging students, following in their mentor’s footsteps, are also national award winners,” Lawrence President Jill Beck told Sturm in presenting his award. “Your own compositions and arrangements are acclaimed worldwide. For these accomplishments and your enduring dedication to jazz education at Lawrence and worldwide, we are pleased to honor you.”

Tapia joined the Lawrence Spanish department in 2002 with research interests in Spanish Peninsular and Latin American literature as well as the use of technology applications in foreign language education. Before coming to Lawrence, Tapia taught in the Spanish department at Penn State University, earning that institution’s outstanding teaching award for graduate students, one of only five given university-wide.

In honoring her, Beck said Tapia had “won the hearts and minds” of many students.

“Students say you inspired them to do their best work in your class. They recognize and applaud the high standards you set and express enthusiastic appreciation for the effort you expend to help them reach those goals,” said Beck. “Your colleagues, too, express gratitude for your willingness to share teaching strategies, especially those related to uses of instructional technology in the classroom.”

A native of Ubeda, Spain, Tapia earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the Universidad de Granada, a master’s degree in Spanish at the University of Delaware and her Ph.D. in Spanish at Penn State University.