Celebrating Our Faculty
Rochester’s faculty represent an extraordinary diversity of talents, national origins, intellectual approaches, and methodologies. By Joel Seligman
The faculty of the University are our most precious resource. Before I accepted the opportunity to be president, I was well aware of the Simon School and a number of extraordinary scholars there, such as Michael Jensen, Jerry Zimmerman, Cliff Smith, and the late Dean William Meckling, as well as great scholars in cognate fields, such as William Riker in political science and Lionel McKenzie in economics. I also knew of the reputation of the Eastman School and of programs such as optics, physics, brain and cognitive sciences, religion, and the new initiative in biomedical engineering.
No study of reports or interviews quite prepared me for how terrific this University’s faculty truly is.
But no study of reports or interviews with senior leadership quite prepared me for how terrific this University’s faculty truly is. For example, I’ve come to appreciate Diane Hartmann, associate dean for graduate medical education in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Under Dr. Hartmann’s leadership, our medical school has become the first in the nation to earn six-year accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Her groundbreaking work in core competency assessment has earned her invitations to consult with other schools around the country, and has reassured all of us that physicians and scientists trained at Rochester are second to none.
Gerald Gamm, professor and chair of political science, wears many hats at the University as last year’s chair and this year’s cochair of the Faculty Senate and as a participant in several search committees that have gone on or are going on at the University as I write. When I visited him to talk about the Department of Political Science, I was struck by his extraordinary vision for the future of the great department that Riker had built. Working with the leadership of the College and through a consensus building process in the department, Gerald and many others have managed to attract several extraordinary new faculty members, retaining our reputation among the leading departments in the country, particularly in the area of political methodology.
A quite different type of faculty resourcefulness and imagination is illustrated by Russell Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of English, and Alan Lupack, director of the Robbins Library. Russell is the editor of the Middle English Texts Series, a project begun in Rochester in 1990 that has been responsible for 55 volumes of outstanding scholarship published both online and in hard copy. Alan is behind The Camelot Project Web site, an online Arthurian collection of over 800 illustrations and more than 300 texts that is the most frequently cited source for Arthurian literature on the World Wide Web. You can get to both collections by going to www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/cphome.stm.
At the Eastman School, Tony Caramia, professor of piano and director of pedagogy, has earned international acclaim as a classical, jazz, and ragtime pianist. Tony has a number of recordings to his credit, including Nimble Fingered Gentleman, which popularizes the work of the late Billy Mayerl, a novelty pianist referred to by some critics as the “British George Gershwin.”
The faculty from every school and program represent an extraordinary diversity of talents, national origins, intellectual approaches, and methodologies. Just to give a few examples: Joseph Inikori, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of History, has been recognized internationally for his scholarship on the role of diasporic Africans in the New World, whose slave labor allowed large-scale commodity production that fueled the growth of multilateral Atlantic trade; Esther Conwell, professor of chemistry and of physics, who in 2002 was named by Discover magazine as one the “50 Most Important Women of Science” for her work on how electronic signals flow through semiconductors, a technology that helped lead to the computer revolution; and work led by Daphne Bavelier, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, on cognitive development and vision is changing our notions about the brain.
In common they display the energy, resourcefulness, and vitality that make Rochester a special place.
In our history, this University has displayed extraordinary talent at designing imaginative programs and collaboration within and across schools. The Center for Visual Science and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences are two examples of truly inspiring programs that originated with faculty leadership and illustrated new, often quite pathbreaking, ways of organizing faculty research and teaching.
We will celebrate each new endowed chair with a University-wide ceremony.
Few contributions that our alumni and friends can make are more precious than the creation of chairs that not only immortalize the reputation of the University supporter but honor the scholarship, teaching, and service that make our University one of the great academic institutions in the world today. We will begin honoring the establishment of such chairs on March 29, when we will formally celebrate the creation of the Thomas H. Jackson Distinguished University Professorship. We will celebrate each new endowed chair with a University-wide ceremony recognizing the recipient of the chair as well as expressing our gratitude to the donor.
My challenge, consistent with what I anticipate will be expanding our resource base, is to recognize, indeed celebrate, our faculty in the many other ways they deserve. There are few challenges which are so great a pleasure. Since I have arrived here, I have had the chance to meet an ever broadening number of outstanding scholars and teachers whose work, talents, and energy are inspiring. To be their colleague is the highest honor that you could have bestowed on me.