Professor Edward Porcella has been awarded the 2010 O. Desales Perez Award for Excellence in Collegiate Seminar, named for an early chairman of the program. Porcella joined the Saint Mary's faculty in 1978 and teaches in the School of Liberal Arts Integral Program. His contributions to the Seminar Program were lauded by Saint Mary's Brother President Ronald Gallagher, FSC, and by Charles Hamaker, director of the Collegiate Seminar.
"Ed has been a stalwart in serving the program, acting as Seminar board member, mentor to new instructors and author of the program's history," Hamaker said. "More importantly, he is exemplary in valuing the voice of the students and encouraging thoughtful reading, possessing a profound understanding of the transformative power of the Seminar method and its texts."
Accepting the award, Porcella entertained the attendees with a witty description of his early missteps as he tried negotiate the fine line a Seminar professor walks between saying so little that the students respond with puzzled silence and saying so much that they are rendered mute by the teacher's grandiloquence. The middle ground, he suggested, is the place where ideas catch fire and the Seminar class comes to life.
At the award ceremony, a new book, "Sailing Past Scylla: A History of the Seminar Program at Saint Mary's College of California," was unveiled. The book, written by Porcella along with Brother Kenneth Cardwell and Program Manager Deanne Kruse, is the first to outline the history of the Seminar, from its early experiments with the Great Books model to the program as it is taught at Saint Mary's today.