Professor of Chemistry Jeff Bartz is this year’s recipient of the Lux Esto Award of Excellence. The award—announced Friday to celebrate Founders Day, marking the College’s 190th year—recognizes an employee who has served the institution for at least 26 years and has a record of stewardship and innovation.
The recipient—chosen by a committee with student, faculty and staff representatives—is an employee who exemplifies the spirit of K through excellent leadership, selfless dedication and goodwill.
Bartz joined the K chemistry department as an assistant professor in 1997 and became a full professor in 2011. He earned the 2020 Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching and currently teaches courses on chemical composition and structure, chemical reactivity and physical chemistry. His research group works in chemical dynamics, focusing on photochemistry.
Bartz “has always been dedicated to our campus community while thinking about how to make things better for everyone,” President Jorge G. Gonzalez said. “He’s a quiet, unassuming champion of K from supporting students in their academic and non-academic endeavors to supporting the faculty by helping them find creative solutions and supporting the work of offices outside his own department.”
In accordance with Founders Day traditions, two other employees received individual awards. Associate Professor of Anthropology Espelencia Baptiste was given the Outstanding Advisor Award and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Laboratory Instructor Yit-Yian Lua received the First-Year Advocate Award.
Baptiste teaches courses such as Communities and Schools; the Materiality of Money; Language, Culture and Society; and Immigrants and Exiles. Her research interests include the anthropology of education, ethnicity and nationalism, language and culture, and creole societies.
By leading last fall’s course titled Lest We Forget: Memory and Identity in the African Diaspora in New Orleans, she also has played a critical role in the College implementing coursework through a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. That grant has provided new learning opportunities for students and faculty seeking solutions to societal problems while promoting the critical role of the humanities in social justice work.
“Advisors are mentors who work closely with our students, pay attention to their academic progress and help them identify and fulfill their goals while working toward completing their degrees,” Gonzalez said. “As evidenced by the nominations for her, (Baptiste) has accomplished all of these things and more.”
Lua has led labs in Composition and Structure along with Chemical Reactivity, leading her to influence of first-year students at a time they need it most.
A sophomore’s nomination of Lua noted that she has always surpassed the standard levels of grace and patience with her students, Gonzalez said. She also has a unique ability to connect personally with everyone.
“Faculty in her department noted that (Lua) teaches approximately 130 students every year,” Gonzalez said. “She interacts closely with all students in labs and provides any support that they might need. She has touched the lives of so many students at K right at the beginning of their time at the College.”