The parents of William Price, a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at La Salle University, told him he been blessed with many gifts, and it was incumbent on him to give back. Price has given back many times in many different venues. For his service, Price received the University’s Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award, given to an individual who honors the ideals of St. John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers (the order that founded the University), and the patron saint of teachers.
“You always get at least as much in return when you give to others” said Price. As a teen that message fell on deaf ears, but as he matured he said, “something took root in me.”
“None of the service that we carry out happens in a vacuum. In any successful endeavor of this type, there is a network of dedicated people involved. Between my church (Abington Presbyterian Church) and La Salle University, I belong to two remarkably strong faith communities where mission work is a core value,” he said.
One person nominating him for the award wrote, “Bill exemplifies Lasallian values through his quest for spiritual growth and service to others. He and his wife have organized a service trip of high school and college students and adults to Guatemala where they spent a week providing health care services to hundreds of people. He and his wife have also welcomed a Kenyan student to live with them so she could attend La Salle.”
Earlier this summer, Price listened to a voicemail message from Ray Ricci, who recently retired as La Salle’s Special Assistant to the President for Mission Integration. Ricci asked Price to come to his office. “I thought, ‘what have I done now?’” said Price, but a few days later he met with Ricci, who told him he had received the award.
“It was mind-numbing” when he learned the news. “To be on that kind of list (of previous recipients) is an amazing honor,” he said. This is not the first time the University has honored Price. In 2007, he received La Salle’s first Brother Scubillion Rousseau Justice Award. The award was developed to honor La Salle faculty or staff members who affect social change and understand their roles in creating a more just world.
As a result of losing both of his parents to cancer over a quarter century ago, he has spent the greater part of his adult life trying to understand the molecular and genetic bases of cancer. From his remarks at the opening faculty meeting, Price said “I don’t have the answers, but we need to keep asking the questions. With our students – and eventually their students – the roots will take hold that will allow us to pursue effective, rational, civil and ethical dialogue as we search for the truth”.
Price, a resident of Glenside, Pa., earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The College of Wooster, and a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park. During his tenure at La Salle, he has been the recipient of numerous research awards and grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Aveiro in Portugal.
Previous recipients of the Distinguished Lasallian Educator award include Br. Daniel Burke, F.S.C., president emeritus of La Salle (1969-1976) who also founded the University’s art museum; Br. Gerry Molyneaux, F.S.C., founder of the University’s Communication Department, who has taught at La Salle for more than 40 years; Dr. Nancy Jones, founding Chair of the Integrated Science, Business and Technology Department, who has also been involved with pre-freshmen programs for many years; Dr. Michael Smith, a communication professor who has his students do media campaigns for nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area; Dr. Richard Mshomba, a professor of economics who regularly returns to his native Tanzania for community service projects; and Ray Ricci, who worked at La Salle for more than 40 years and was involved in many projects connected to the University’s mission.