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L&S honors seven faculty for distinguished service to undergrads

17 September 2003

On Monday, Sept. 22, the College of Letters and Science will honor seven faculty who have made outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.

The L&S award for Distinguished Research Mentoring of Undergraduates will be presented to Bruce Cain, political science; Anne Cheng, English; John Forte, MCB; and Charles McClain, legal studies. The Rhoda Goldman Award for Distinguished Faculty Advising of Undergraduates will go to Hubert Dreyfus, philosophy; Marilyn Fabe, film studies; and Robert Jacobsen, physics.

These awards were introduced by the college to highlight faculty contributions that take place “at the edge of the curriculum.” Research mentoring is not always recognized by faculty peers, an L&S official noted, but students do notice and appreciate this faculty attention, as evidenced by letters from undergraduates in support of the honorees.

For example, one student wrote, the attention that Bruce Cain gives to his undergraduate researchers is “above and beyond that which could be expected of even real parents, even real uncles, elementary school teachers, coaches, trainers, managers, bosses,” let alone a think-tank director who has “reporters chasing after him like paparazzi.”

Cheng and McClain were also applauded for the time they took in helping students develop research skills and independent research ideas.

The students in John Forte’s lab expressed surprise and pleasure at his close attention to their development as scientists and as individuals; they wrote of his high standards and his encouragement of individual projects. Also, they add, working in his lab “is just plain fun.” Said one supporter, “He makes this lab a community.”

In a similar fashion, the three distinguished advisers were credited with bringing undergraduates into the departmental community and making them “feel at home.” An open door, extraordinary listening skills, the ability to see the student as an individual, and an infectious enthusiasm for the field were qualities students cited often in nomination letters for Dreyfus, Fabe, and Jacobsen.

On Monday, the seven will share their insights on research mentoring and advising. The award ceremony, which is the first of four L&S Colloquia on Undergraduate Education, will take place in the Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, 4 to 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. For more information, call 642-3795.