It was the moment a large group of La Salle students at the University’s recent commencement waited for, the presentation of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. When the word “nursing” was mentioned, they cheered. When they heard, “she is the nurse I want to become,” they roared, and the noise exploded when the winner was announced: Geralyn Altmiller.
A nursing faculty member at La Salle for 11 years, Altmiller said, “I really was happy about receiving the award, and it was very humbling, but I have to tell you that I did not expect the reaction of the students at graduation. What a thrill that was. I am usually happy for them and to see them so happy for me was overwhelming.”
Armand Campos, a 2014 nursing graduate, said, “When I saw the nominations for the Lindback Award, I submitted mine and emailed my classmates and the other seniors to nominate Gerry for all she has done for us. Interestingly enough, I got more than enough emails back saying that they were way ahead of me and already nominated her, which gave me the hunch that she might win this because probably more than 100 of us nominated her!”
Campos, who was president of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania chapter while at La Salle, also said, “Professor Altmiller is the epitome of what a Lindback teacher stands for; when I first read the qualifications, which are: ‘Superior knowledge of the subject matter, vitality and inspiration in its presentation in class, and devotion to helping students realize their potential.’ Her mastery of nursing knowledge was evident from the very first day of senior year, with her perfectly organized lectures and her clarity with all subject matter from the simple to the demandingly complex. Her classes were not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but she was always there for you, before class, after class, during office hours, and even on the weekends via email. She is really a model of what an award-winning professor should be, and even more so, a Lasallian professor.”
The Lindback Award, created through a grant from the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, has been awarded annually to a full-time faculty member since 1961. Faculty members and graduate and undergraduate students nominate professors, and then the recipient is selected by a committee that includes representatives from the faculty, student body, and administration.
In early May, Altmiller received a call from La Salle’s Provost Joseph Marbach, Ph.D., asking to meet with her. “I wondered if I offended someone or was in trouble for something,” said Altmiller. “It was funny to me afterward.”
Marbach presented Altmiller with the Lindback Award at Commencement, and said, “Nominations from both colleagues and students have described this year’s award winner as:
Marbach also mentioned how a student said of Altmiller, “she makes herself available outside of class in person and through email. On the weekends she is always there to answer questions. She is very helpful.”
Altmiller said she constantly monitors her La Salle e-mail to see if students have questions.
“The students feel I am available on the weekends because I answer their emails at night and during the weekend. If they take the time to write to ask me to explain something, then I answer them back. Sometimes they write that they are sitting in a group studying and ask if I can explain something. I reply right away to catch them while they are working. I am very fortunate to have a job I enjoy,” said Altmiller. “I like teaching, I like the students. I want them to be successful and happy in their career and to be a person that makes a difference to someone that is suffering or is scared. It’s a great thing to watch them grow into that.”
Altmiller teaches advanced level medical-surgical courses to undergraduate nursing students and core courses for graduate students. Prior to joining La Salle’s faculty, she worked as a critical care nurse.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.