Thursday, October 02, 2014

History Professor David Bertaina named the 2014 University Scholar at UIS

David Bertaina, associate professor of History at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2014. The award, considered the university’s highest faculty honor, recognizes outstanding teaching and scholarship. Only one faculty member receives the annual award at UIS.

“Bertaina is an exceptional teacher and an outstanding emerging scholar in the field of comparative religion,” said Lynn Pardie, UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. “He is also known as a passionate, reflective, and engaging teacher who values active learning strategies and skillfully links learning to the demands and dilemmas of contemporary life in a global context.”

Bertaina has been recognized for his expertise in Middle Eastern religious literature and in Muslim-Christian interactions during the Late Antique and Medieval periods. He is currently conducting research on the Arabic writings of a medieval Muslim convert to Coptic Christianity, in preparation for a new book, titled Apostasy and Conversion in Medieval Egypt: Bulus ibn Raja on Islam.

“Colleagues in the field have praised him for the very high quality of his research and the groundbreaking nature of his contributions to Islamic Studies,” said Pardie.

He has published a monograph and an extensive array of book chapters, peer-reviewed articles in leading journals, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, and translations. He has also presented numerous papers at international and national academic conferences in his field.

At UIS, Bertaina teaches courses at all levels of the curriculum, including core methods and capstone courses, as well as electives within the History major and general education curriculum.

“It is also noteworthy that Professor Bertaina teaches very successfully in online as well as on-campus modes of course delivery, enlivening the learning process by incorporating multifaceted experiential learning activities, the creative use of multimedia, and course-relevant travel abroad into his courses. He is an outstanding example of the teacher-scholar ideal,” said Pardie.

Bertaina is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Oriental Society, the North American Society for Christian Arabic Studies, and the Society of Biblical Literature.

He obtained his doctorate in Semitic Languages and Literatures from The Catholic University of America. He taught at California State University at Chico before coming to UIS in 2007.

As University Scholar, he will receive $15,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.

For more information on the award, contact Derek Schnapp, director of public relations at 217/206-6716 or email

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