Dr. Steven Gravelle, associate professor of chemistry in Saint Vincent College’s Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, was honored with the presentation of the Boniface Wimmer Faculty Award at the Saint Vincent College Honors Convocation on April 24 in the Saint Vincent Basilica.
Named for the founder of Saint Vincent and the pioneer of Benedictine monasticism in the United States, the Boniface Wimmer Award recognizes a senior faculty member for sustained excellence.
A member of the Saint Vincent faculty since 1991, Gravelle earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Saint John’s University (Minnesota) and both a Master of Science and Ph.D. from Northwestern University in physical chemistry.
Gravelle has served in many leadership capacities during his tenure at Saint Vincent. From 1996–2005, he was chair of the Chemistry Department, while he has also served on the College’s faculty council and the rank and tenure committee. He was integral in the planning of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, as he worked with Project Kaleidoscipe in the design phase of the state-of-the-art science center on the Saint Vincent campus. Currently, he serves as director of Saint Vincent’s Teaching Effectiveness and Mentoring Program.
Gravelle is a member of the national Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) project and his recent professional activities have centered on improving teaching and learning in the sciences.
In presenting Gravelle with the award, Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean at Saint Vincent College, said, “He has authored numerous papers and presentations on enhancing student learning of chemistry by using writing, technology and innovative, inquiry-based approaches. He also has supported and mentored faculty in every discipline at Saint Vincent to enhance teaching and student learning. In the classroom, Dr. Gravelle puts into practice the techniques that allow students to conduct understanding and develop expertise.”
Smetanka continued by citing some examples of the impression Gravelle left on a number of students.
“One student from his Physical Chemistry course shared, ‘this has been my favorite course. I understand quantum mechanics – I call that a win!’ Another student wrote, ‘I enjoyed the group work in the course because seeing others’ points of view help me master the material.’ Finally, another student observed, ‘Dr. Gravelle is the stereotypical caring, good professor.’”
Upon accepting the award, Gravelle said, “I want to thank Dr. Smetanka and our deans for considering me for this award. I greatly appreciate it and I’m very flattered. I also thank the faculty who make this job so wonderful and enjoyable, especially the faculty in chemistry, who are great. We’ve been a great family for my nearly three decades serving here, and I’ve really enjoyed it. And, thank you to the students. I don’t quite get the same comments about physical chemistry that Dr. Smetanka recalled – he must have dug deeply to find those – but thank you to my students who soldiered on through the course.”
In addition to teaching Physical Chemistry I and II, Gravelle also teaches courses including General Chemistry, Advanced Chemical Methods, Advanced Physical Methods, Special Topics in Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis.
He and wife, Ann, are the parents of two sons: Sean, currently in graduate school in Nebraska, and Brian, currently a graduate student in Oregon.