Three Recognized for Research, Teaching Excellence

April 22, 2024

During the 2024 Commencement celebrations, three members of the ʪƵ faculty will be honored with the University’s most prestigious scholarship and teaching honors.

Dr. Barb Lowe, Dr. Jeff Liles, Dr. Guillermo Montes

Dr. Barbara Lowe, professor of philosophy in the School of Arts and Sciences, will receive the Trustees’ Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement. The Award for Teaching Excellence at the undergraduate level will be given to Dr. Jeffrey Liles, associate professor of education, while Dr. Guillermo Montes, a professor in the executive leadership doctoral program, will be given the Award for Teaching Excellence at the graduate level.

The Trustees’ Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement is the highest honor that the Board of Trustees can bestow on a faculty member, second only to an honorary degree. It is given to full-time faculty members in recognition of outstanding scholarly work, ranging from writing books and articles, to presenting papers at professional conferences.

Lowe joined Fisher’s Philosophy Department in 2001. During her tenure at the University, she has held various leadership roles in her discipline, including serving on the executive board and as conference co-chair for the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. With the support of her colleagues, she created, organized, and hosted the 2019 Feminist Pragmatist Colloquium at Fisher, bringing participants from across the country and abroad to campus for an innovative place-based designed conference and introduced a new—and now often repeated—collaborative model for scholarship development.  Currently, Lowe is serving in her fourth year as the convening leader for the Jane Collective for Feminism in American Philosophies (JCFAP).

Lowe’s recent publications include a co-authored introduction to Women in Pragmatism: Past, Present and Future entitled, “The Growth of Feminist Pragmatism: Opening Channels for Cooperative Intelligence.”  In addition, she has authored two chapters for Oxford Handbooks.  The first, “Jane Addams (1860-1935), the Settlement Women of Hull House, and the Feminist Pragmatist Orientation” for The Oxford Handbook of American and British Women Philosophers in the Nineteenth Century, and the second, “The Complementary Theory and Practice of Jane Addams and George Herbert Mead: Bending Toward Justice” for The Oxford Handbook of Jane Addams. Additional publications and presentations explore themes related to nature-based philosophy, community building across differences, morally injurious work, immigrant and refugee rights, and the medical ethics of advertising cosmetic dermatology to patients. For her spring 2024 sabbatical, she studied the Rochester area parks and explored how philosophy can deepen understanding of park engagement, foster learning, and strengthen community connections.

In addition, Lowe’s work has been lauded both within and beyond St. John Fisher. Beyond Fisher, she is a past recipient of the Jane Addams Prize for the best paper promoting feminist philosophy and the Douglass Greenlee Prize for the best paper within five years of completing one’s dissertation. At Fisher, she has been honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award (2003), the Information Literacy Award (2017), and the Father Dorsey Award for Dedication to the Life of the Student (2018).

Lowe holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Lawrence University, a master’s degree in counseling from Bowling Green State University, a master’s degree in philosophy from American University, and a doctoral degree in philosophy from Fordham University. 

The Awards for Teaching Excellence are chosen by students, and are given annually to full-time faculty members for outstanding work in the classroom. Award recipients must demonstrate thorough knowledge of their subject matter, solid preparation for class, clear and effective communication, and genuine enthusiasm for their job.

After graduating with a degree in secondary social studies education from Oklahoma Baptist University, Liles began his career in education as a middle and high school social studies teacher in Oklahoma in 1984. While teaching, he pursued a master’s degree and then a Ph.D. in the historical, philosophical, and sociological foundations of education at the University of Oklahoma. His dissertation, Urban and Agrarian Educational Reform During the Progressive Era, received the College of Education award for best graduate student research.

Before coming to Fisher in 2004, Liles held a tenure-track position at Oklahoma Baptist University, and adjunct positions at University of Oklahoma, Eastern Michigan University, and SUNY Geneseo. At SUNY Geneseo, he also worked as the library instruction coordinator in Milne Library where he used his expertise in teaching and learning to guide the professional development of librarian instructors and worked with instructors and faculty to develop innovative curriculum and teaching strategies for information literacy classes across the disciplines.

Since 2004, Liles has been on the faculty in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education where he has taught courses in history and philosophy of education, adolescent development, inclusive adolescent social studies education, and social justice education.

In a letter nominating Liles for the award, one student wrote that he “provides a fun learning environment that keeps students engaged in course material. He also supports his students both in and out of the classroom, and shows compassion for each student’s needs.”

Another added that he creates a “classroom environment that made each of his students feel welcomed and accepted,” noting the positive impact that space had on their learning.

In addition to his work in the classroom, Liles has a rich history of experiences in the Rochester community and beyond. He joined a group of Fisher students, faculty, and staff on a trip to New Orleans to work on homes after Hurricane Katrina. He followed this trip by taking a group of high school students and teachers from School Without Walls in Rochester on a similar trip to help New Orleans residents rebuild their homes. For several years, Liles received multiple grants to run a college and career readiness program he created called “College Club,” offered in several schools in the Rochester City School District.

Montes teaches doctoral-level leadership and research methods courses in the program, conducts research, supervises doctoral students in field-based experiences, provides dissertation advisement for doctoral students, and chairs dissertation committees that study contemporary educational or leadership issues employing quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. He has an extensive background in quantitative research methods and evaluation.

“Dr. Montes has been an integral part of the DEXL program. He is knowledgeable, engaging, and supportive,” wrote one student in a letter nominating Montes for the award.

Another added, “His classroom is a space where students feel valued, respected, and encouraged to express their ideas. Dr. Montes goes above and beyond to create an atmosphere that nurtures intellectual curiosity, enabling students to engage deeply with the subject matter. Dr. Montes is an outstanding educator whose impact on students and the educational community is immeasurable.”

In addition to teaching at Fisher, Montes served as a senior research associate at the University of Rochester and Children’s Institute from 2006 to 2020. Prior to that role, he was chair of the Economics Department and associate professor of economics at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. Early in his career, he also taught at the State University of New York at Geneseo and the State University of New York Brockport.

At Fisher, he has served on several committees, most recently as a member of Executive Leadership Curriculum Re-Design Team and the University’s AI Policy Recommendation Subgroup. He has also published myriad research articles, book chapters, and reports. In addition, he has served as a reviewer for peer reviewed publications including Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, JAMA – Pediatrics, Computational Economics, and the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, to name a few.

Montes received his Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. in economics from the University of Rochester. His research interests include studying health and educational services for children with autism spectrum disorders and/or ADHD in school and community settings using large scale nationally representative datasets. He has published the results of his research in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed journals and had support for his research from national and state grants.