Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008
Rebecca L. Torstrick
W. George Pinnell Awards for Outstanding Service
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University Graduate School
Indiana University South Bend
Appointed to IU faculty, 1996
B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, 1976
M.A.Ed., Washington University, 1981
Ph.D., Washington University, 1993
"In my estimation there is no other faculty member who has made a greater or broader impact on the campus through his or her service during the last 15 years than Becky."
--Mike F. Keen, Professor of Sociology, Indiana University South Bend
When Rebecca Torstrick came to IU South Bend from Washington University in St. Louis, joining the Department of Sociology as its only anthropologist, the members of her search committee hoped she would help develop a minor in anthropology over the next few years. She did it in two.
"We never imagined that as an untenured assistant professor scrambling to establish her research agenda and assigned to teach over 100 students each semester, she would have designed the minor and had it up and running in only her second year," says Professor of Sociology Mike F. Keen. "What we did not know then, but have come to learn again and again since, is that Becky Torstrick is one of our most energetic faculty members and tireless campus servants."
Torstrick's enthusiasm, dedication, vision, and work ethic are widely praised. "Becky is an exemplar in the area of university service," says Alfred J. Guillaume Jr., vice chancellor for academic affairs at IU South Bend. "Whenever she is asked to perform a task, chair a committee, participate in a special activity, or provide leadership to a university initiative, her ready response is always, 'I'm happy to serve.'"
She has a knack for inspiring collaboration and reaching big goals. One of her biggest accomplishments was the completion of IU South Bend's reaccreditation process in 2007. As co-chair of the three-year project, she helped coordinate the efforts of more than 55 faculty and staff members, resulting in a glowing report from the Higher Learning Commission.
Torstrick's big-picture thinking also led to the development of IU South Bend's annual campus theme, a string of lectures, exhibits, performances, and other events and activities that grew out of the general education program she helped develop. The inaugural theme examined the concept of identity. Capitalizing on her research on coexistence and identity in Israel, Torstrick arranged for events such as an exhibit of poster art by Israeli and Palestinian artists and a visit by Palestinian American poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
During her 12 years at IU South Bend, Torstrick has participated in a variety of activities, committees, and task forces. She chairs IU's University Teaching Awards Committee and formerly chaired IU South Bend's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Academic Advising Committee. A former director of the Women's Studies Program at IU South Bend, she developed and facilitates GirlTalk, a program that teaches middle school girls about self-esteem and life. She is a campus liaison for the IU Future Faculty Teaching Fellows Program and a member of IU South Bend's Campus Directions Committee, Undergraduate Research Council, and International Programs Committee, for which she is helping to develop an exchange with Western Galilee College in Israel.
Torstrick received a Lecturing/Research Award from the Fulbright Program and the United States-Israel Educational Foundation, which took her to Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2003-04. She also received the CLAS 2007 Outstanding Advisor Award and has been recognized multiple times for her teaching, earning an IU President's Award and IU South Bend Distinguished Teaching Award, among others.
Along the way, she has continued to nurture IU South Bend's anthropology program. She helped get approval to add two new faculty members, assisted students in founding the Anthropology Club, and is working with a colleague at IU Northwest to develop a joint Bachelor of Arts in anthropology. Thanks to her contributions, the Department of Sociology is now the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.