University of Rochester

Goergen Awards Recognize Faculty, Staff at University of Rochester

October 5, 2009

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 a luncheon and awards ceremony at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 7 in the Hawkins-Carlson Reading Room at Rush Rhees Library.

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 Todd D. Krauss, associate professor of optics and chemistry; G. Bingham Powell Jr., the Marie Curran Wilson and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor of Political Science; and Harry T. Reis, professor of psychology. Jacqueline Levine will accept the Goergen Award for Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education on behalf of the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs. In the final category, Anne-Marie Algier, associate dean of students and director of Wilson Commons Student Activities, will receive the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning.

"I often remind the students that although we are always serious about learning chemistry, it does not mean that we always have to be deadly serious in presenting it," wrote Todd Krauss in his statement of teaching philosophy. In 2003, when Krauss began teaching freshman general chemistry, making the course fun, or as fun as possible, was an important goal. In an effort to increase enthusiasm for a course known for being difficult, he created innovations, including "Fun Fridays," which start classes off with a chemistry-themed joke and song. Krauss also introduced peer-led team learning workshops to the general chemistry course, and his "real life" demonstrations take chemistry concepts and relate them to current events. For one former student, missing one of Krauss' lectures meant "losing out on a chance to learn the material in a unique and enjoyable manner."

As the Marie Curran Wilson and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor of Political Science, G. Bingham Powell Jr. teaches courses in comparative politics, democratic political processes, conflict in democracy, and western politics, among others. Powell notes that the primary principle that guides his teaching is to teach what he finds interesting. His enthusiasm will naturally shape the class and will generally catch students up in the material, he believes. His students agree. They recall him as "passionate about what he teaches" and a professor who "focuses on real learning and long-term understanding." His contributions to teaching also touch students pursing graduate degrees and in 1999, Powell was awarded Rochester's William H. Riker University Award for Graduate Teaching. Powell's enthusiasm for political science reaches far beyond the perimeters of the River Campus. His textbook, Comparative Politics Today, is assigned to college students throughout the country.

Over more than three decades as a faculty member at Rochester, Harry Reis has seen numerous changes take place in the classroom. From chalkboards to PowerPoint presentations, from mimeograph machines to Web sites, the tools for teaching may be different, but his goal "to foster engagement in the learning process" is still the same. For students, this translates into a passionate professor who "comes up with really clever and interesting ways to teach the material" and "engages the class" with ideas that are "very relevant to our lives." A testament to his ability to reach students, Reis's course Relationship Processes and Emotion, which he designed in 2001, now attracts enrollment numbers upwards of 150 students when it is offered. Similar courses modeled after this one have been created at several university's around the world. He has mentored 14 Honor's Theses in the past 6 years alone and maintains an active research laboratory with many undergraduate assistants.

"Jackie and her staff's enthusiasm and confidence in what study abroad can do for students encouraged me to go places that few students go and to take advantage of unique Rochester programs," writes a former student. In nomination letter after nomination letter, Rochester alumni share similar experiences about a staff that fostered their curiosity about the world around them. Under the guidance of director Jacqueline Levine, the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs provides opportunities for students to internationalize their education through a summer, a semester, or a year abroad and to create their own majors, minors, and clusters. Catering to the many interests of Rochester's students, the Center has continued to expand its offerings and services. Since it was established in 1991, more than 4,000 students have studied in 63 countries including Ghana, India, Chile, Poland, Sweden and China. For many, it was a catalyst that sparked lifelong passions. One alumna describes Levine as "personally and professionally dedicated to the concept of 'Meliora,' always looking for new and innovative ways to encourage students to make the most of their time at Rochester."

Anne-Marie Algier has supported students at the University of Rochester for 18 years - advising, counseling, and mentoring them in their co-curricular pursuits. Her nomination letters shared examples of how she has served as one of the students' greatest advocates, listening to concerns and offering solutions. She currently oversees the Wilson Commons Student Activities office, advising student organizations, planning numerous events, and working to establish new traditions such as Yellowjacket and Winter Fest Weekends. In this capacity, former and current students say she enhances the college experience of every student who steps inside Wilson Commons.