Santa Monica College (SMC) philosophy professor Dr. Amber Katherine has been named the recipient of the newly created Santa Monica College Foundation Chair of Excellence in philosophy and social science.

Three other SMC professors were named to previously established Chairs of Excellence.

Biology professor Dr. Mary Colavito was named to the Avaya Inc. & Anixter Inc. Chair of Excellence in life science. The Ilona Jo Katz Chair of Excellence in music was awarded to music professor Dr. David Goodman, and art professor Anne Marie Karlsen was named to the Sam Francis/ Martin Sosin Chair of Excellence in fine arts.

Katherine, a Mar Vista resident, said she plans to use the funds that come with the award on a project to instill ecological literacy and sustainable education practices into SMC’s curriculum and professional activities.

She will receive $5,000 a year for each of the next three years to be used for her project.

The Chair of Excellence in philosophy and social science is the eighth chair established at SMC.

Aside from life science, music and art, the other chairs are in earth science, physical science, nursing and performing arts. The awards are administered by the SMC Foundation and are named for their primary benefactors.

Katherine, who received her doctorate in philosophy from Michigan State University, has been teaching at SMC since 1999. She has taught a range of philosophy classes, including “Philosophy of Star Trek,” but she is increasingly focusing all her courses on ecological literacy.

“If our goal at SMC is global citizenship, what better way to practice it than by preparing our students to meet the challenges of sustainability?” Katherine said. “By ‘greening’ the curriculum, we can make a huge difference, locally as well as globally.”

She has won several honors, including the Outstanding Teacher Award from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and has been active in academic affairs at SMC, serving on committees, including the Academic Senate Executive, Environmental Affairs and Professional Ethics committees.

Colavito is the third recipient of the Chair of Excellence in life science award. She said she plans to use the funds to purchase equipment and supplies to expand the range of molecular biology experiments that can be performed in lab courses and independent study projects.

Goodman, who has held the Chair of Excellence in music twice, said he plans to use the money to create a large-scale work for orchestra and chorus, involving more than 150 students, to be performed at the 2008 opening of SMC’s Madison Project, a 541-seat performing arts hall.

Karlsen is the second recipient of the Chair of Excellence in fine arts. She said she plans to digitally photograph and document world-class exhibits in the U.S. and Europe over the next three years for classroom use.

Karlsen also plans to collect materials and catalogs and create a CD library from these collections for use by the Art Department.