Approximately 50 people gathered in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on Tuesday afternoon to honor this year’s Professor of the Year recipients. One professor each from the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering was chosen by the student body during Students’ Association elections earlier this month.
The Professor of the Year award receptions were funded in part by Student Government, the academic departments and Office of Undergraduate Research.
To start off the ceremony, sophomore Janna Gewirtz introduced biochemistry professor Terry Platt as the winner of the award in the Natural Sciences. Platt has been with UR since 1985, and is one of the leaders of the informal Workshop Task Force, which works to implement class workshops led by trained students. Gewirtz mentioned the educational mantra Platt described to her class on the very first day: “To teach is not to fill a vase, but to light a fire.”
“I’m here as a teacher because I love teaching,” Platt said. “We learn as much from the students as they learn from us.”
Sophomore Alvin Lomibao read an introduction for professor David Foster, the recipient in the School of Engineering. In addition to his job as a professor, Foster is also a Senior Research Assistant at Eastman Kodak. He has over 35 United States patents attached to his name. Lomibao praised Foster’s “commitment to each student’s success in [both] of his courses here.” Foster has been a professor at UR since 2001.
“[Teaching] is a lot of our lives – you wonder, ‘are you making a difference?'” Foster said. “The fact that this comes from the students means so much.”
Next, junior Ari Stillman introduced the award winner in the Humanities, religion professor Douglas Brooks. Brooks earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1986 and began teaching at UR that year. He currently teaches two 100-level religion classes in addition to upper-level courses. This is the second time he has won the Professor of the Year award.
“They give [awards] for all kinds of reasons. This is the one we hope to get in our lifetime,” Brooks said after accepting the award.
Stillman gave his personal affirmation of Brooks’s qualities as a professor.
“The most amazing part is that he can always relate some concept we’re learning about to what’s going on in the world in politics. I think one of his greatest talents is the ability to take abstract, unwieldy concepts and make them not only relevant and practical but incredibly interesting.
Finally, Social Sciences professor of the year Steven Landsburg was introduced by freshman Sandra Barbosu. Landsburg is the author of six books, including “More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics.” He teaches a number of economics courses at UR, and has held positions at Princeton and Colorado State as well.
“I’m blown away by the extent of the honor,” Landsburg said at the ceremony.
All of the honorees noted how important this award is to them because of the fact that it comes from the student body.
“It’s just a tremendous thing to be appreciated by the students,” Landsburg said.
Platt echoed these sentiments after accepting his award.
“I’m as proud of this award as any I have ever received,” he said.
Moeller is a member of the class of 2009.