University of Rochester

First Goergen Awards Recognize Quality Teaching, Programs that Improve Environment for Undergraduates

October 27, 1997

Individual faculty, academic departments, and committees have been awarded the first set of Goergen Awards -- named for, and sponsored by, Board of Trustees Chairman Robert B. Goergen and his wife, Pamela -- to recognize contributions to undergraduate education in the College.

In awards announced at meetings of the trustees two weeks ago, six individual faculty members were honored with Awards for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching: Celia Applegate, Department of History; Theodore Brown, Departments of History and Preventive Medicine; Michael Gage, Department of Mathematics; Barbara Ilardi, Department of Clinical and Social Psychology; Thomas Krugh, Department of Chemistry; and Frank Wolfs, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the College Music Program were honored with the Award for Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education.

The selection committee for the above awards included: William Scott Green, dean of the College; Dale McAdam, dean for freshmen; Joanna Olmsted, associate dean of the faculty; Kathy Nordeen, professor of brain and cognitive science; and Jorge Rodriguez, a student representative.

In a third category, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning, chosen by President Jackson and Provost Phelps, went to the 1994-95 College Curriculum Committee (Chair, Paul Slattery, Physics and Astronomy; Robert Angerer, Biology; Celia Applegate, History; Douglas Brooks, Religion and Classics; Richard Feldman, Philosophy; William Scott Green, Dean of the College; Suzanne O'Brien, associate dean of the College; and Alan Stockman, Economics). A separate co-award also went to Green for his general contributions to curriculum improvement.

Each recipient of the teaching award receives $5,000. Those recognized for their work on programs or committees will share a group award of up to $30,000.

In recognizing the work of individual faculty members for their teaching, Celia Applegate was cited for her diligence and wit as well as dedication to teaching her specialty of modern German history. Besides investing in the skills of teaching, Applegate has a reputation for making student writing a critical dimension of her coursework, the nominations said, and then taking the responsibility to thoroughly comment on their writing.

To students and peers, Barbara Ilardi was described by those nominating her as a professor dedicated to creating new models of classroom teaching. One of her most significant innovations is the idea of a "tag-along course," in which a two-credit seminar accompanies a large, four-credit lecture course and looks at one particular aspect in greater detail.

Theodore Brown was cited for his rigorous and imaginative courses, as well as his dual role as a teacher on the River Campus and at the Medical School. His colleagues said they see him as indefatigable, teaching an above-average number of courses, and handling extra work with students on independent study and internships.

In the sciences, Thomas Krugh was spotlighted for his approach to the teaching of first-year chemistry. Most recently, he has reworked the course and given it a strong slant to biological applications because of the large number of majors in biological sciences.

Michael Gage's innovative Web-based teaching methods were cited in his award. Students can now receive and hand in their homework via personal computer and have it graded instantly through Gage's WeBWorK system -- one of a number of teaching techniques laced with technology in order to motivate students.

Frank Wolfs was cited particularly for his innovative work to bring computerized and personalized assignments to the realm of physics instruction, thereby freeing teaching assistants from routine grading and allowing them to spend much more time with students in individual instruction.

The Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education Award went to the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to acknowledge its environmental program. Commenting on the nomination, Trustee Paula Brownlee (the president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities) described the departments' three inquiry-based laboratory courses in environmental science as "well-conceived, and quite original in intent . . . a very impressive proposal."

New degree programs have been created in Environmental Sciences in response to intense student interest and public awareness of environmental issues. The department now boasts of having the second largest undergraduate population in the College among the natural sciences. In terms of quality, the environmental programs have built on the tradition of problem-solving exercises in the field and the laboratory, and provided students with more challenges to apply their knowledge as undergraduates.

The College Music Program was recognized for its interdisciplinary offerings and for the rigor of its multimedia initiatives. With 40 percent of a recent freshman class indicating a desire to perform or study music while at the University, the music program has a significant campus audience, and its faculty also continues to seek ways to integrate its offerings into the general intellectual life of the College.

"College student interest in music making and study is enviably high," Brownlee said. "This originally tiny department has built itself a marvelous range of ensembles, groups committed to every kind of music, as well as a curriculum of surprising range and apparent vitality."

The 1994-95 Curriculum Committee was recognized for its role in the creation of the new College curriculum. In his remarks to trustees this month, President Jackson said that the committee was being cited for "its critical and important work in providing the intellectual heart and soul of the undergraduate experience at the University."

Green was a co-winner of the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning. "Bill Green has had the vision, devotion, and tenacity to allow the College to be where it is today, poised as one of the most exciting and influential undergraduate institutions in the country," Jackson said.

In 1995, Board Chairman Goergen, and his wife, Pamela, announced a gift of $10 million to the University for an endowment to support undergraduate programs. They also promised an additional $500,000 to support awards for excellence in undergraduate education.