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The Piranha

The Piranha

In his inaugural address to faculty and staff, ASU’s fourth president Dr. Joseph C. Rallo established a new tradition, as is his prerogative as president, with the presentation of a mounted piranha to the 2007 Teaching Excellence Award Recipient, Dr. John C. “Trey” Smith of mathematics.

What does a piranha have to do with higher education? Well, more than you might think!

First, there’s the education connection as the piranha lives and travels in schools. Second is the international flavor of the fish native to South America. Third, the piranha practices diversity, most being carnivores while the socially conscious among them prefer seeds and fruit, yet they all thrive together. Finally, the piranha has its own website at

The mounted piranha resides in the office of the current Teaching Excellence Award recipient in recognition of the accomplishment.

Dr. Rallo’s charge to each year’s recipient was simple: “I ask that you display it with dignity and whimsy for the year.”