University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

2009 Teaching Awards

Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching


William Jones

Serving as an advisor to more than 45 undergraduate researchers during his 30-year career, William Jones, the C. F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry, is a valued mentor to a generation of students. As one teaching assistant notes, “I feel that having experienced being a TA for Dr. Jones is more like being a TA with him.”

Students marvel at his concern and willingness to help them schedule Study Abroad semesters, for example, around the rigors of a chemistry major or to help them develop the patience and persistence to succeed on research projects.

Jones earned a doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology in 1979 after completing undergraduate studies in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He serves as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemistry Society and was the winner of this year’s American Chemical Society’s Arthur Cope Scholar Award.

G. Graydon ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Nontenured Member of the Faculty

Jason Middleton, assistant professor of English, is known for his dynamic teaching style and the wide-ranging knowledge that he brings to the classroom, including courses in the department’s
Film and Media Studies Program.

An alumnus who is now a first-year graduate student notes that Middleton’s course on documentary “has become one of the most beneficial foundations for my career, giving me the ability to participate and discuss on par with fellow graduate students in their third and fourth years of study.”

Middleton also engages with the community by programming an annual series of experimental films at the Visual Studies Workshop.

A graduate of Hampshire College, Middleton received his doctorate from Duke University in 2002. Before joining the Rochester faculty in 2006, he was on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education


Nelita True

Eastman Professor of Piano Nelita True has witnessed many of her students win top prizes nationally and internationally, including an unprecedented five first prizes at the Music Teachers National Association competitions. Zhang Zuo ’10, an Eastman junior now studying with True, is one of 30 students competing this month in the prestigious 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

True has had a distinguished career. Since she made her debut at 17 with the Chicago Symphony and the Juilliard Orchestra, her career has taken her to all 50 states and to major cities around the world.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan, True went on to Juilliard and then earned a doctor of musical arts degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She joined the Eastman faculty in 1987.

William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching


Robert Boeckman

The Riker Award for teaching excellence acknowledges Robert Boeckman’s history of dedication to graduate students.

Boeckman, the Marshall D. Gates Jr. Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry, joined the Rochester faculty in 1980, and since then he has mentored 46 doctoral students as well as 48 postdoctoral fellows. As a colleague observes, Boeckman’s approach to research “is highly analytical, critical, and innovative,” an effective combination when teaching graduate students. Recognized for his excellence as a teacher, he is also credited for his abilities to create a team of scientists while valuing the individual strengths of each team member.

Boeckman, a graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology, earned his doctoral degree from Brandeis University in 1971. He was a professor at Wayne State University before joining Rochester’s chemistry department.

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