The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association will recognize five faculty members during its annual Faculty Appreciation Dinner on Friday, Jan. 27, in the University Center.

The Distinguished Faculty Award was established in 1984 to recognize outstanding faculty in each school. The 2023 honorees were nominated by their respective deans and have gone above and beyond in engaging and mentoring St. Mary’s students.

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Todd Hanneken, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Theology

Joined St. Mary’s: 2008

Todd Hanneken
Todd Hanneken

Recent accomplishments: Hanneken is the director of the Jubilees Palimpsest Project. This initiative uses the latest imaging technology to make ancient books and manuscripts available to the public that have not been readable to the human eye for hundreds of years. The technology allows Hanneken and the project team to distribute, without cost, not only the textual discoveries but the experience of working with the manuscript as a cultural artifact. For many students and scholars, this interactive online copy will be the closest they come to handling a fifth-century manuscript.

His work has been supported by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is pending receipt of a third grant. He is the author of more than 25 articles and two books. His publications and presentations focus on apocalyptic literature and the Book of Jubilees, a book that was authoritative among the Dead Sea Scrolls but omitted from European bibles. In 2021, he authored an open-source textbook for Introduction to Theology titled Theological Questions. Last year, he served as the Associate Editor of The Textual History of the Bible: Science and Technology.

Meghann Peace, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Languages

Joined St. Mary’s: 2014

Meghann Peace
Meghann Peace

Recent accomplishments: Peace teaches courses relating to the Spanish language and linguistics, focusing on Spanish in the United States. She has been interviewed by local and national news media (San Antonio Express-News, KSAT, Texas Public Radio, National Public Radio, Telemundo, Univisión and NBC LX) on the topic of Spanglish in her research and the classroom. Her current research focuses on Spanish in the U.S., the teaching of Spanish to heritage speakers, and the sociolinguistic experiences of Latino students who study abroad in Spain. She received the Edward and Linda Speed Peace and Justice Fellowship, which funded her research in Spain.

Her articles have appeared in journals such as Language, Interaction and Acquisition, International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, and International Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest, as well as in the collections Contact, Community, and Connections: Current Approaches to Spanish in Multilingual Populations and Heritage Speakers of Spanish in Study Abroad. She has presented her research on topics in linguistics, heritage and immigrant languages, language education, and U.S. Spanish at conferences throughout the United States and Europe.

Peace has mentored more than 30 undergraduate students in extracurricular projects relating to linguistics, heritage Spanish, community engagement, language education and translation/interpretation; and received the Junior Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research in 2017. When she is not teaching or conducting research, Peace uses her Spanish and Portuguese to translate and interpret for nonprofits that focus on scientific communication and immigrant rights.

School of Science, Engineering and Technology

Ayad Barsoum, Ph.D., Program Director and Associate Professor of Computer Science

Joined St. Mary’s: 2014

Ayad Barsoum
Ayad Barsoum

Recent accomplishments: Barsoum has dedicated a lot of time and effort to putting St. Mary’s on the cybersecurity map in San Antonio and across the United States. He led the efforts to develop the Master of Science in Cybersecurity and the Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity. He also contributed to bringing the Cybersecurity lab to St. Mary’s and developed grants from the Hearst Foundation and the Valero Energy Foundation.

Barsoum spearheaded the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security project to have a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, known as Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), and an NSA/DHS designation for the M.S. in Cybersecurity Program. Currently, he serves as a reviewer for the NSA CAE-CD. He was also the supervisor for the first thesis of master’s programs in the Computer Science department.

He established a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Academy for St. Mary’s students to be AWS-certified cloud practitioners. Barsoum published a book titled Data Integrity in Cloud Computing Systems: Challenges and Solutions, 25 refereed technical papers in leading journals and conference proceedings and three technical reports to the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research in Canada. He also serves as a reviewer for many prestigious peer-reviewed journals and has been nominated to the editorial review board of the International Journal of Cyber Research and Education.

Greehey School of Business

Jialin “Jolene” Zhao, Ph.D., Chair of Finance and Quantitative Management and Associate Professor of Quantitative Management 

Joined St. Mary’s: 2017

Jialin Zhao
Jialin “Jolene” Zhao

Recent accomplishments: Since joining St. Mary’s in 2017, Zhao has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, such as Applied Artificial Intelligence for Business, Business Analytics and Management of Information and Technology. She is also actively advising students for case competitions and research projects.

Zhao’s scholarly interests center on renewable energy economics and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Her research studies have been published in reputable outlets, such as Finance Research Letters, Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics and Journal of Alternative Investments. Zhao has also served as a reviewer for academic journals and presented at major conferences at regional, national and international levels. Her past awards and honors include the PRMIA Higher Standard Risk Management Scholarship from the Bank of England and a Research Fellowship from Pacific Northwest Energy Consultants.

School of Law

André Hampton, J.D., Professor of Law 

Joined St. Mary’s: 1994

André Hampton
André Hampton

Recent accomplishments: When Hampton stepped down as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, he had two goals: to lose the weight he gained during his years of administrative service and not to overstay his welcome back to the law classroom. Hampton has returned to his 2008 weight and taught his last class as a full-time Professor of Law last semester.

While working toward his goals, Hampton chaired the School of Law Faculty Experiential Learning Committee. Upon a recommendation from the committee, the law faculty adopted an amendment to the Law Student Handbook to allow law students to earn compensation while completing internships or externships in accordance with the recently relaxed American Bar Association Standards. He also attended the workshop, Helping Each Student Internalize the Core Values and Ideals of the Profession, sponsored by the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Profession of Professional Identity. The workshop provided him with a deeper sense of how to help law students connect their professional aspirations with their personal identities.

In 2019, Hampton received the law school’s Sir Thomas More Award. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Hampton chaired the President’s Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This committee’s work set the foundation for St. Mary’s University’s establishment of an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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