University of Rochester

Goergen Awards Recognize Faculty, Staff at University of Rochester

September 2, 2008

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. 5.

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. The Goergen Awards recognize quality teaching, programs that improve the environment for undergraduates, and committees or individuals who have made substantial contributions to the University.

This year's recipients of the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching are Fred Cohen, professor of mathematics; Robert Foster, professor of anthropology; and James Longenbach, professor of English. Nigel Maister will accept the Goergen Award for Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education on behalf of the University of Rochester International Theatre Program. In the final category, Jane Possee, associate director of athletics and recreation, will receive the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning.

Fred Cohen is a prolific researcher whose interests include topology with connections to other areas, such as classical homotopy theory, braid groups, configuration spaces, modular forms as the cohomology of certain configuration spaces, and cohomology of groups. Admired as a teacher and advisor, Cohen has supervised eight doctoral students since his arrival to the University in 1989. Described by students as "dedicated and caring," an "excellent communicator," and a teacher who ensures each student leaves class with a clear understanding of the course work and deeper appreciation for the beauty of mathematics. Cohen graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in mathematics from Brandeis University and holds a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago.

A three-time nominee for the Student Association's Professor the Year Award, Robert Foster's reputation as an outstanding educator was proved when he was named the Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor. A core faculty member in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies and current chair of the anthropology department, Foster has done intensive field research in the Tanga Islands, Papua New Guinea. His current research interests include nationalism, globalization, mass media, material culture and mass consumption. Creating lectures and selecting topics that will engage students, Foster asks them to draw upon their own experiences as a way to better understand the subject matter. As one student wrote, Foster teaches "from text and from life" and has the "natural ability to inspire the best from his students." Foster received a master of arts degree from Columbia University, a diploma in social anthropology from Oxford University, and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

As the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English, James Longenbach teaches courses in modern and contemporary American poetry, British and American modernism, James Joyce, Shakespeare, and creative writing. Former students recall his classrooms as "intimate settings that were built on trust and mutual respect." Longenbach is a two-time Student Association Professor of the Year and directs the Plutzik Reading Series, working with colleagues to bring distinguished writers to campus. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College and earned his master and doctoral degrees at Princeton University.

As a part of the English department, the University of Rochester International Theatre Program provides opportunities for students with an interest in the dramatic arts to create quality productions, enhance their performance technique and technical theatre knowledge while adding to the general education of the University and Rochester communities who attend the performances. The International Theatre Program offers courses in acting, directing, stage management, technical theatre, and playwriting and consistently draws international theater professionals who work, create, and help guide and train students. In addition, the program supports internships in various capacities from stage management to public relations. The International Theatre Program enhances the cultural climate of the University by attracting students from all academic disciplines to participate in its classes and productions.

Jane Possee has served the University of Rochester for 33 years as a coach of several women's varsity teams, including field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. Her nomination letters shared examples of how she has taught patience, respect for others, teamwork, and self-confidence to the University's student athletes. Possee transitioned from coaching to administration in 1992 and currently oversees the operation of the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center and all the recreational programs sponsored by the department of athletics and recreation. In this capacity, she enhances the college experience of every student who takes advantage of the intramural programs, club sports, aquatics, and daily fitness classes offered.

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.