Trinity professors named 11th and 12th recipients of prestigious professorship
by Sydney Rhodes '23
This year, the two professors awarded the title of Murchison Professor are Farzan Aminian, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Engineering Science, and Amer Kaissi, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of the Health Care Administration. Together, Aminian and Kaissi have taught at Trinity for more than 48 years.
The purpose of the Murchison Term Professorships is to honor exceptional achievement in teaching, research, and service. To be eligible, an applicant must have been a full-time faculty member at Trinity for 10 years and a full professor for 5 years at the time of application. Holders of endowed professorships are not eligible. Each professorship is accompanied by a reward of $20,000 annually, in the form of a salary supplement, a research stipend, or a combination of the two. Each professorship lasts for three years.
Aminian works across many STEM disciplines, including engineering sciences, physics, mathematics, and biology. Described by students as a well-prepared, organized, and caring instructor, Aminian coordinates bi-monthly “pizza talks” with industry leaders to help current students prepare for lives and careers beyond Trinity. He has worked at Trinity for 31 years, chairing the Department of Engineering Science for the last 10. He oversaw the department’s relocation to the Center for Sciences and Innovation as well as guided the department through two rigorous program reviews with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Aminian’s areas of scholarly expertise include system and data modeling, Monte Carlo Techniques, and reinforcement learning; he has published nearly 20 refereed articles in journals across several fields. His efforts have helped Trinity secure more than $1 million in external support, including a grant from the National Science Foundation to launch the biomathematics program. Aminian also completed terms as a member of the Promotion and Tenure Commission, the Faculty Senate, the Administrator Review Oversight Committee. He also chaired the Faculty Development Committee and earned Trinity’s Distinguished Advising Award.
Trinity’s vice president for Academic Affairs, Deneese L. Jones, Ph.D., announced the winners, saying that “in more than thirty years at Trinity, Dr. Aminian has used his scholarship to build disciplinary bridges across engineering science, mathematics, biology, and physics. His leadership has enabled Trinity's engineering science program to maintain its national accreditation with ABET and has connected current students, alumni, and industry professionals in innovative ways. Trinity is fortunate to benefit from the gifts of these two remarkable colleagues."
Joining the Trinity faculty in 2003, Kaissi is an international leadership expert who equips healthcare administrators to make evidence-based decisions with his research. He is the author of the book Intangibles: The Unexpected Traits of High-Performing Healthcare Leaders, which has won the 2019 American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Book of the Year award. Last year, he delivered more than 20 invited talks and workshops focusing on leadership humility, kindness, accountability, and resilience across the United States and Canada. Kaissi is also the author or co-author of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, many appearing in well-regarded journals. Further bridging theory and practice, Kaissi is a certified executive coach and a strategic planning facilitator for health care organizations. Drawing on his recent research, executive coaching, and public speaking activities, he recently developed new courses and revised existing courses for the Healthcare Administration curriculum focusing on leadership, professional development, public speaking, and coaching. Over the last 17 years, Kaissi has made notable service contributions at Trinity, including chairing the University’s “Task Force on Space Utilization,” serving as a member as the Presidential Search Committee, and speaking at numerous alumni events. In 2015, he received the Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching and Advising.
Jones says that "Dr. Kaissi's current research on effective leadership is not only shaping critical conversations for our nation's hospitals, physicians, and healthcare systems, but he masterfully brings these real-world issues into the classroom for Trinity's HCAD graduate students on a daily basis.”
The prestigious professorships began in 2010 for consideration by full professors who have been at Trinity for at least 10 years. These faculty members, along with Carolyn Becker, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology, comprise the current cohort of Murchison Professors.
The Murchison Professorships are made possible by an endowment from the estate of Norine R. Murchison, wife of T. Frank Murchison. He was co-chair of the original Trinity Building Committee and influential in the decision to move Trinity to its current campus. In creating the Murchison Term Professorships, Trinity preserved and furthered Mrs. Murchison’s love for the University.
The University's Murchison Professorship recipients include: