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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Faculty, staff, and alumnus honored during Convocation ceremony

The University will recognize the recipients of the Goergen Awards for Contributions to Undergraduate Education during the College’s annual Convocation on Friday, September 5. Also during the ceremony, Robert Goergen ’60 will receive the Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Medal, an honor given to an alumnus or alumna in recognition of achievement and notable service. Goergen, a trustee and former board chairman, and his wife, Pamela, have sponsored the Goergen Awards since 1997.

This year’s recipients of the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching are Frederick Cohen, professor of mathematics; Robert Foster, professor of anthropology; and James Longenbach, Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English. Jane Possee, associate director of athletics and recreation, and the International Theatre Program also will be honored with separate Goergen awards.


DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AND ARTISTRY IN UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING

Frederick Cohen, Professor of Mathematics

Frederick Cohen

Frederick Cohen

Beautiful and useful. That’s how Frederick Cohen describes mathematics, a subject he has taught with passion and purpose at Rochester since joining the faculty in 1989. “Mathematics is remarkable in both what it can and cannot do. Teaching mathematics provides an opportunity to pass on these powerful techniques in the subject as well as to communicate the joy of discovery in solving problems,” says Cohen. Colleague Douglas Ravenel, Fayerweather Professor of Mathematics, describes Cohen as the department’s “secret weapon,” a reliable and always effective presence in the classroom. “He is a person who lives and breathes mathematics, and his passion for it is infectious,” adds Ravenel. Many of Cohen’s former student concur. One recent student, who was struggling to grasp calculus concepts, says Cohen, reassuringly told the student that they were in it together—offering lessons in life as well as math.


DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AND ARTISTRY IN UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING

Robert Foster, Professor of Anthropology

Robert Foster

Robert Foster

For Robert Foster, teaching is a calling, driven, he says, by the mission to give students the tools they need to “negotiate their encounters with the world they inhabit.” Inspired by the instruction he received as a student at the University of Chicago, Foster says he came to Rochester in 1990 with the goal of imparting “the same intellectual curiosity and love of critical inquiry” that was modeled for him. A nationally noted scholar on globalization and nationalism, Foster considers teaching as an integral part of his scholarship. His dedication is evident to students like Moshe Kornfeld ’04, who describes Foster’s classes as “a fertile ground for learning,” and like Radhika Dewan ’03, who now works in advertising and was impressed by Foster’s “natural ability to inspire the best from his students—to be an intellectual who teaches from texts and from life. . . who never fails to show he cares about student development.”


DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AND ARTISTRY IN UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING

James Longenbach, Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English

James Longenbach

James Longenback

“Every work of art, like every student, provokes a new way of thinking and feeling,” says James Longenbach, acclaimed poet, literary critic, and scholar. There is an “organic integrity” to Longenbach’s approach, notes John Michael, chair and professor of English. “He is what I describe as a pure teacher, relying very little on current classroom technologies and almost completely on the intensity that can, by a skillful master, be generated by the students’ encounter with a text and a teacher,” says Michael. Such intensity left its impression on Carl Adair ’08, who took several classes taught by Longenbach: “Every time I sit down with Professor Longenbach, he is marshalling the full power of his intellect toward my questions. . . . Sitting down one-on-one guarantees that something will be demanded of me. . . . I leave his office in the knowledge that he respects his students enough to ask for their best, and to ask again.”


CURRICULAR ACHIEVEMENT IN UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION

International Theatre Program/Director Nigel Maister

Nigel Maister

Nigel Maister

Each year, the University’s International Theatre Program offers students the chance to stage both classic and avant-garde productions, and to take part in an experience that many say defined their college years—and even helped shape their futures. Led by the artistic vision of Nigel Maister, the program has thrived in recent years. Russell Peck, John Hall Deane Professor of English, says the program “is unique and, to my mind, the best of its kind in America.” In addition to hosting visiting artists, writers, and directors, the program offers students the chance to experience all elements of theatrical production. Amanda Goff ’03, an attorney, credits the program in large part for her post-graduation success. “I participated in every play possible during my career at Rochester, and the lessons I learned during those late hours ring louder than others.”


DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO UNDERGRADUATE LEARNING

Jane Possee, Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation

Jane Possee

Jane Possee

In her more than 30 years at the University, Jane Possee has guided and inspired generations of female athletes and students. From her early years as coach of the field hockey and women’s basketball teams, Possee has played a pivotal role in supporting the development of the women’s varsity program, which will soon include 12 sports, and now oversees facility operations and recreational programs. George VanderZwaag, director of athletics and recreation, describes Possee as “a true pioneer” and role model. Former students agree, including Christine Joor Mitchell ’86: “She’s part coach, surrogate mom, friend, counselor, and mentor.”


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