University of Rochester

2007 Goergen Awards Praise Faculty, Staff at University of Rochester

August 24, 2007

The University of Rochester will recognize the recipients of the Goergen Awards for Contributions to Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering during the College's annual Convocation on Friday, Sept. 7.

Presented since 1997, the awards acknowledge excellence by faculty and staff in supporting undergraduates and their learning in and outside the classroom. They are named for and sponsored by alumnus, trustee, and former board chairman Robert B. Goergen and his wife, Pamela.

This year's recipients of the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching are Andrew Berger, associate professor of optics and of biomedical engineering; Robert L. Holmes, professor of philosophy; and Claudia Schaefer, professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. College Dean of Students Jody Asbury and the Take Five Scholars Program also will be honored with separate Goergen awards.

Nominations for all three faculty members attest to their course innovations, teaching excellence, outreach to students, and enthusiasm. Berger, a member of the faculty of the Institute of Optics and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, teaches courses in electromagnetic theory and biomedical optics, among others. His research in biomedical optics, specifically spectroscopic diagnostic techniques, is helping to advance optical technology by performing sensitive chemical tests on samples and live subjects using light. He earned his doctoral degree in physics at MIT and has taught at Rochester since 2000.

Holmes, a world-renowned expert on issues of peace and nonviolence, specializes in ethics, and in social and political philosophy. He has written numerous articles and several books on those topics, and has been invited to address national and international conferences. He earned his doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Michigan, and joined the Rochester faculty in 1962. At Rochester, he also has received the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 2001 and the Professor of the Year Award in Humanities in 2006.

Schaefer has developed and taught an impressive number and range of courses in her years at Rochester beginning in 1977. They have been on Spanish and Latin American topics, courses for the Film and Media Studies Program, for Women's Studies, and in the Comparative Literature Program. The author of four books and many articles, Schaefer's interests—both in research and teaching—encompass all aspects of cultural production in Latin America and Spain of the 20th and 21st centuries. She earned her doctoral degree from Washington University in Spanish language and literature.

The Take Five Scholars Program, begun in 1986, is unique in American higher education. Twice a year since its inception, a select group of students is chosen from among the many applicants to pursue individual projects for a fifth year of study tuition-free. Take Five, which will receive the Goergen Award for Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education in the College, broadens the scope of an undergraduate education by allowing students to explore new subjects outside their majors; more than 850 students have graduated from this program. Suzanne O'Brien, associate dean of undergraduate studies and director of the College Center for Academic Support, will accept the award.

Asbury, dean of students and director of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, will receive this year's Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning. Since she became dean in 2001, Asbury has encouraged the community engagement of undergraduates by creating courses, fellowships, and community-based programs such as The Rochester Youth Year, which offers students a variety of non-traditional learning opportunities. She has developed programs that have brought national recognition and awards to the University. From her early days directing freshman orientation and creating the first Wilson Day to her duties as the sexual harassment intercessor, Asbury's work has been innovative and collaborative. She earned her doctoral degree from the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University.

The Convocation ceremony celebrates the start of the academic year and begins at noon on Dandelion Square. It will be followed by a picnic for students, faculty, and staff in the College.