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Three inspiring teachers win Weiss Presidential Fellowships

Three Cornell faculty members have been awarded 2006 Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowships for effective, inspiring and distinguished teaching of undergraduate students. They are: Glenn Altschuler, the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies and dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions; Theodore Lowi, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions; and Edward McLaughlin, the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing and director of the Undergraduate Business Program and of the Food Industry Management Program.

The awards -- $5,000 a year 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. The awards honor excellence in teaching, advising and outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.

The three faculty members will be honored at a luncheon of Weiss Fellows hosted by Cornell's president and provost and also at an awards dinner in spring 2007, when the board of trustees meets on campus.

Glenn Altschuler

Altschuler, who has been involved with Cornell for 35 years, previously served as an assistant dean and director of advising for the College of Arts and Sciences. His courses on popular culture are consistently oversubscribed. Colleagues call him an "exceptionally talented and creative teacher" whose lectures are perfectly organized and peppered with his "wonderful sense of humor and irony and a delivery that keeps audiences fully involved."

Students write that Altschuler is an "engaging and approachable instructor" who is willing to get involved outside the classroom with students. They note his "invaluable guidance" and his "virtually unmatched ability to address the needs of each student as a unique individual. The recipient of several awards for teaching and advising, including the Clark Teaching Award, the Donna and Robert Paul Award for Excellence in Faculty Advising and the Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Award for Outstanding Advising, Altschuler is "a unique Cornell treasure," writes the Weiss committee, adding that "he is beloved by a host of Cornell alums that he has interacted with over his many years of tenure at Cornell. He is a great teacher who has inspired legions of Cornell undergraduates, a superb scholar and an exceptional educator."

Theodore Lowi

Lowi, who served on the Cornell faculty from 1959 to 1965 and then continuously since 1972, is a renowned scholar on American government, political institutions and public policy. The Weiss Nominating Committee cited his "superb record of effective and inspired teaching, consistently receiving very high evaluation scores for his courses. In the words of one nominator, Lowi brings "prodigious intellectual gifts" to his lectures. "Even amongst the distinguished faculty of Cornell, Professor Lowi is a giant. ... He is a fantastic teacher and mentor," wrote a Cornell '04 student. Lowi also is "one of the most widely cited scholars on questions of American politics, and his numerous books and articles have unquestionably influenced the teaching of American government across the nation," writes the Weiss committee. Lowi was a "founding father" of the Cornell in Washington program and the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs; and numerous students indicate that he also is a much-valued adviser. Lowi is recipient of a Clark Distinguished Teaching Award in 1985 and numerous awards for his scholarship, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Neustadt Award and several honorary doctorates. He also is past president of the American Policy Studies Organization, the American Political Science Association and the International Political Science Association.

Edward McLaughlin

McLaughlin is described as a devoted and innovative teacher who can "communicate a sense of excitement and caring, even in a classroom of hundreds of students." McLaughlin, who joined the Cornell faculty in 1983, has received numerous teaching awards and is consistently evaluated very highly by his students. As director of Cornell's second-largest major, the undergraduate business program in applied economics and management, McLaughlin is responsible for curriculum design, teaching assignments and awards; he also is responsible for research and outreach in the Food Industry Management Program, where he "has been tireless in creating opportunities for students." McLaughlin has been faculty adviser to "two fraternities, three sports teams, has led 75 off-campus trips and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make Cornell a better place to educate students of the future," writes the Weiss committee. His "standing as a scholar is equal to his outstanding ability as a teacher. ... McLaughlin is commended for his "brilliance" and "dedication," and has been described as a "student's teacher," who brings "clarity and enthusiasm" to the learning process inside and outside the classroom. "Ed McLaughlin is a brilliant teacher and dedicated citizen of Cornell who brings his unique insights, enthusiasm, magnetism and personal belief in the nobility of teaching to students across a wide spectrum of interests, abilities and activities," the committee concluded.

The Cornell Board of Trustees established the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowships in 1992 in recognition of the importance of undergraduate teaching. The call for nominations for the 2007 Weiss fellows will go out in late January 2007, with a nomination deadline of March 7, 2007.

To date, 43 faculty members have been named Weiss fellows.

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