Two New Dana Professorships Awarded

By Breana Cacciotti, September 19, 2016

Two New Dana Professorships Awarded

Two distinguished faculty members have been selected as Charles A. Dana professors, an award at Ithaca College that recognizes significant contributions in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. Luke Keller, professor of physics and astronomy, and Abraham Mulugetta, professor of finance and international business, will each serve as Dana professors for a five-year term.

The awards are funded through the Dana Endowment by a gift made to Ithaca College by the Charles A. Dana Foundation in 1973. They provide each Dana professor with a stipend and release time to further their academic research and to act as mentors and role models for other faculty members and students.

Teaching at Ithaca College since 2003, Keller has been the recipient of NASA grants to support his work with students on physics and astronomy, and was a part of the group that designed instrumentation for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Keller will concentrate his Dana professorship project on mentoring his students and continuing his research, while developing a new focus on effectively communicating science to the general public.

“I am interested in communication of science and the scientific process to the general public, specifically what we have learned about our origins and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe,” said Keller.

Mulugetta, who joined the Ithaca College faculty in 1984, plans to focus his Dana professorship project on further developing finance and investment education, as well as expanding community outreach through the college’s Annual High School Investment Competition, which began in 2013. He is the founder of Ithaca College’s Center for Trading & Analysis of Financial Instruments in the School of Business, otherwise known as the trading room. Mulugetta said he has devoted countless hours to mentoring in the trading room, and he hopes it will benefit students for the rest of their lives.

“The establishment of the trading room was the high point of my work as a teacher, scholar and service provider,” said Mulugetta. “It's where I have devoted weekends, winter and summer breaks, as well as all my sabbatical leaves, over the last 23 years.”

Keller and Mulugetta join two other current Dana professors, Michael Malpass from the Department of Anthropology and Michael Twomey from the Department of English. 

Previously, Dana professors were appointed to lifetime terms. However, with the approval of both the Dana Foundation and the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, the program changed to five-year terms in June 2016. Keller and Mulugetta are the first two faculty members to be appointed under this new, five-year system. Dana professors may reapply for the award at the end of their term. The application process is coordinated through the Faculty Council and the Provost’s office. Candidates must be full professors at the time of application and at any stage of their career with teaching as their primary area of responsibility. They must teach a minimum of six credits per semester.

The application period for Dana professorships will reopen in 2017.