Three Cornell faculty winners of 2002-03 Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowships -- for effective, inspiring and distinguished teaching of undergraduate students -- were announced at a special dinner on campus March 6.
The university's new Weiss Fellows are: W. Bruce Currie, professor, Department of Animal Science; Richard Polenberg, the Goldwin Smith Professor of American History, Department of History; and Mariana Federica Wolfner, professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.
The awards -- $5,000 for five years for each faculty member -- are named for Stephen H. Weiss '57, emeritus chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, who endowed the program. They recognize excellence in teaching, advising and outstanding efforts toward instructional improvement and development. The appointed fellows are permitted to hold the title of Weiss fellow simultaneously with any other named professorship.
The recipients of three other prestigious faculty awards, established by members of the board of trustees and named in the spring of 2002, also were recognized at the March 6 ceremony in Trillium of Kennedy Hall: Honored for the Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award were: Glenn Craig Altschuler, the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies and Dean of Continuing Education; Graeme Bailey, professor, Computer Science; Cindy Hazan, associate professor, Department of Human Development; and Carol Hardy McFadden, retired senior lecturer, Department of Biomedical Sciences. And honored for the Robert and Helen Appel Fellowships for Humanists and Social Scientists were Peter Holquist, associate professor, Department of History, and Michael Spivey, associate professor, Department of Psychology; and for the Robert A. and Donna B. Paul Award for Excellence in Advising in the College of Arts and Sciences was Christopher Way, assistant professor, Department of Government.
Established by Helen and Robert Appel, the Appel Fellowships honor creativity in teaching and research among newer faculty. They enable recipients to take a year's sabbatical leave, at full salary, to write, develop new courses, conduct research or otherwise enrich their teaching and scholarship. Stephen Ashley '62, MBA '64, established the Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Awards in honor of his former adviser and professor of business management. The awards reinforce the Cornell commitment that advising undergraduate students is a top priority at the university. The Paul Awards, established by Robert and Donna Paul, are given annually to dedicated undergraduate advisers who make a difference in the lives of the Cornell students they inspire.
Each of the faculty awards presented during the ceremony was announced by an undergraduate student presenter. Here are biographies of this year's honorees, excerpted from those prepared for the awards dinner:
W. Bruce Currie
Currie has earned a reputation for balancing rigor and entertainment in the classroom. His adaptability to various learning styles has garnered deep admiration from students who feel he enabled them to leave Cornell confident about following their own paths. His area of expertise includes the biology of pregnancy and developmental biology. He has created several new courses, including a laboratory course on animal physiology and a seminar-type course for research students. He has coordinated the research honors program in animal science for 13 years and currently serves as coordinator of undergraduate advising in the major. Among his many scholarly publications, Currie is the author of Structure and Function of Domestic Animals, a textbook used all over the world.
Polenberg began teaching at Cornell in 1966 and chaired the Department of History from 1977 to 1980. His scholarship has received international recognition, including two major awards for Fighting Faiths: The Abrams Case, the Supreme Court, and Free Speech. Other notable publications include One Nation Divisible and The World of Benjamin Cardozo. He is known among both his students and colleagues as a legendary teacher who imparts tremendous knowledge with an engaging style. He has sparked passion for ideas and lifelong learning in many, if not all, his students.
Mariana Federica Wolfner
Wolfner's use of research in her teaching is exemplary and helps clarify and promote her subject, enabling even basic biology students to be exposed to cutting-edge science. She has served as associate chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics since 2001. And she has received numerous honors, awards and grants from organizations such as the American Cancer Society, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes, including a Dupont Young Faculty Award. Her lab's research focuses on the actions of reproductive proteins and of regulators of cell division, using fruit flies as a "model" animal.
Holquist's scholarship in Russian history places him among a cohort of accomplished specialists in the United States. Current and former students consistently praise the "extras" he incorporates into his teaching, which not only make his classes spellbinding but have inspired many a student to pursue further studies in Russian culture and history. Holquist is also remarkable for the individual attention he gives his students and the insight he has offered regarding their scholarship and both academic and life decisions.
Spivey's reputation as a groundbreaking researcher and innovative methodologist, particularly in recording eye movements during vision and language tasks, brought him to Cornell in 1996. He typically draws on the expertise of his students to create a relevant and riveting learning experience. He is particularly admired for being able to make complex topics accessible and simpler topics thought provoking. His advisees recall an encouraging, insightful, approachable mentor.
Glenn Craig Altschuler
As the freshman dean for many years, Altschuler would greet students with a hilarious lecture on degree requirements and advice on how to negotiate Cornell. Along with humor, he conveyed a deep love of the intellectual life in a way young adults could relate. He established procedures to help faculty identify and work with students in trouble and students who needed specialized kinds of advice. "[Dean Altschuler] has opened doors for me that I thought were forever closed," wrote one advisee.
Bailey is director of the computer science master of engineering program and an adjunct professor of mathematics. The diverse university, professional and community commitments he maintains include faculty adviser for the Cornell Judo Club and Cornell Lunatics; member of the Cornell Emergency Medical Service, the Faculty Committee for Residence Life and the Health Careers Advisory Board Committee; and member of the board of directors of Engineers Without Frontiers. He also spends many evenings at Risley Residential College, as a faculty fellow, in animated conversation with students.
Colleagues and students alike describe Hazan as a remarkable individual who has touched the hearts and minds of thousands of undergraduate students at Cornell. The subject of her research is human mating, which she studies primarily from the perspective of ethological attachment theory. Her publications and scholarly presentations have earned her multiple awards and honors, including grants from the National Science Foundation. In addition, Hazan has received at least one teaching award or honor nearly every year since 1990.
Carol Hardy McFadden
McFadden began her 47-year affiliation with Cornell in 1955 as a freshman undergraduate student. She earned both her master's and doctoral degrees in biology and science education at Cornell and began teaching introductory biology courses in 1976, before completing her Ph.D. in 1981. She taught as a senior lecturer from 1982 to 2002, when she retired, inspiring countless students to discover their greatest abilities. Her passion for biology is matched by an equally ardent love of basketball. As faculty adviser to the men's basketball team, McFadden is lauded by head coach Mike Dement as the program's "absolute key to success," often traveling with the team to provide support on the road.
The students Way counsels describe him as welcoming, approachable, engaged, warm and understanding. He is recognized for helping his advisees make informed academic choices without telling them what to do. He has placed particular emphasis on advising undergraduate research projects, and every honors thesis for which he has served as adviser has been awarded a prize by the Department of Government, several earning summa cum laude. Way often maintains contact with his students long after they leave Cornell -- from reviewing graduate papers they write for other universities to advising them about their futures. In the five years he has been at Cornell, he has participated on university committees, such as the history department's Undergraduate Program Committee, and he has served as faculty adviser to Cornell Model United Nations and to the Cornell Debate Association, to name a few of his contributions.