For over four decades, NOVA emeritus professor Reva Savkar has shared her wealth of knowledge and expertise in the areas of computer science and chemistry with students both locally and aboard. Her lifelong commitment to education and social justice has provided her with several opportunities to meet and speak with elected officials and leaders across the globe.
Born in India, Savkar received a bachelor degree in chemistry and physics from the Institute of Science at the University of Bombay in India, where she also received a master degree in organic chemistry on an Indian Atomic Energy Commission fellowship. She ranked first in her class.
She joined NOVA as an adjunct faculty member in 1974 and taught chemistry for 12 years while earning a second master’s degree in computer science from Virginia Tech. In 1989, Savkar became a full-time faculty member with a dual appointment to teach chemistry and computer science courses.
With an impressive background in computer science and chemistry, Savkar developed the first online chemistry course in the U.S. - Chemistry 111 for NOVA’s Extended Learning Institute in 1995. She developed the course through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She later developed online courses for Chemistry 112 and Chemistry 101.
“The academic degree students earn at NOVA and the chance to transfer to other academic institutions are what makes their journey at NOVA one of hope and progress,” Savkar said. “I believe these students are my legacy. They will form the backbone of our future society as well-informed individuals who will fill and create jobs to reverse the trend of recent decades.”
Savkar was awarded a one-year sabbatical to India, during which she organized a “Science Across the Curriculum” seminar series for humanities faculty at several universities and presented the distance learning chemistry courses she developed at NOVA. In 2012, Savkar traveled to assist individuals at MAITI Nepal, a non-profit humanitarian organization and shelter in Kathmandu. The shelter helps victims of sex trafficking. She helped to develop a Learning Resource Center at the shelter and donated 650 enrichment books. Savkar also met with administrators to discuss their needs.
Over the years Savkar has received several prestigious awards including, the Alumni Federation “Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award,” the NOVA Educational Foundation “Excellence in Teaching Award,” the Annandale Campus Student Government Association (SGA) “Golden Apple Outstanding Faculty Award” and was selected for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. In 2015, she was invited to speak at the White House National Teacher Appreciation Day Ceremony.
Savkar was also honored with the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence from the Virginia Community College System. She contributed her monetary award of $5,000 to the NOVA Educational Foundation to create the “Reva A. Savkar Excellence in Learning Scholarship,” to provide an award of $1,000 to a student in a science-related curriculum each year. In addition to the Learning Scholarship, Savkar and her husband also established a series of other funds and scholarships to include; a student emergency relief fund, Anchor of Security, Hope and Acceptance (ASHA), the Democracy Builders and the Loser-Savkar Women in Science PaTHS student scholarships as well as the Loser-Savkar Fellowship for NOVA faculty and staff.
“The awards that are most meaningful to me are the words of my students,” Savkar expressed. “My students would tell me that because I held them to a higher standard, they started to expect more out of themselves. Teaching is not about covering material, it’s about helping to uncover so that students can discover.”
After retiring last year, Savkar is still very active in the NOVA community throughout her continuous engagement with faculty, staff and students.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.