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ASU selects inaugural President’s Professors

Randall Cerveny

Randall Cerveny

Alice Christie

Alice Christie

Ian Gould

Ian Gould

Paul Rothstein

Paul Rothstein

Four exceptional professors who have made outstanding contributions to undergraduate education at ASU are the first to receive the President’s Professor Awards, in recognition of the level of excellence they bring to ASU.

This is the first year for the prestigious award, created to reward enthusiasm and innovation in teaching, the ability to inspire original and creative work by students, mastery of subject matter and scholarly contributions. They will be honored at a ceremony in the fall.

Inaugural awardees are Randall Cerveny, professor of geography; Alice Christie, associate professor of technology and education; Ian Gould, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and the late Paul Rothstein, associate professor of industrial design who died unexpectedly on March 8, after he had been nominated for the award.

“These individuals exemplify the high standards that will raise ASU to the next level of distinction,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “They are extraordinary teachers and scholars, engaging students both within and outside the classroom and bringing innovation to their teaching as well as to their research.”

Recipients of the award receive a $5,000 permanent increase to their base salary and a title of President’s Professor for as long as they are at ASU. During the award year they are released from non-teaching duties to work on special instructional projects and activities that will enhance undergraduate education, with an operations budget of $5,000. They will join the Parents Professor award recipients as members of the Teaching Academy.

Cerveny is one of the top climatologists in the United States who publishes in prestigious outlets such as Science and Nature. Yet his commitment to teaching undergraduates led him to restructure freshman labs so they are more rigorous and to design a successful climate-meteorology program. Students graduating from the program go into careers in the National Weather Service, private consulting firms and top graduate schools, and he keeps track of them for years.

“Professor Cerveny pours his soul into ASU’s undergraduates, continues to mentor them through graduate school and then maintains lifelong linkages as their careers evolve,” says Richard Aspinall, geography department chair. “His courses are constantly updated with the latest in research, and he has developed a variety of inventive upper-division courses requested by undergraduates. He is the type of faculty every parent hopes their child encounters.”

Christie is a versatile educator who taught upper-division and graduate courses, yet made an eager commitment to teaching freshmen when the first class came to the West campus in 2001, helping develop the first-year Learning Communities. She has a hands-on, creative approach to teaching that incorporates the best in technology. A Web site she created for students to support her instruction has won awards.

“Her students rely on her site as a valuable source of information, and the Chronicle of Higher Education has called her site one of the best educational portals on the Internet,” says Joseph Ryan, interim dean of the College of Teacher Education and Leadership. “Yet her love of face-to-face teaching is readily apparent. She delights in learning, looks for opportunities to co-learn with her students and creates a great sense of community within her classroom.”

Gould joined ASU in 1998 after spending 12 years at the research laboratories of Eastman Kodak and has quickly established a reputation as one of the finest teachers on the faculty. He gets rave reviews from students for his ability to help them understand organic chemistry, yet he has a worldwide reputation for his research into the interaction of light and matter. He has 10 patents and more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, yet is known for the generous amounts of time he spends helping students outside class.

“Dr. Gould clearly has a natural gift for lecturing, but his talents go much beyond this aspect of teaching,” says Robert Blankenship, chemistry department chair. “He truly cares that the students learn and is willing to put in enormous amounts of time with them, both in larger groups and one-on-one. He has an amazing ability to synthesize disparate information and present it in a clear and uncluttered way, while not sacrificing rigor.”

Rothstein will receive his award posthumously, to recognize his work in creating InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary university research and development lab. In it, industrial and graphic design students and faculty work with those from business and engineering to commercialize product design concepts that solve significant social problems. He also was named “Outstanding Professor” by industrial design students for five of his six years at ASU.

“In his classes, Professor Rothstein welcomes students into a research environment that typically only occurs at the graduate level,” says Jacques Giard, director of the School of Design, in his February nomination of Rothstein. “He adopted a teaching approach that is hands-on, highly interactive and demanding, bringing students into a peer-based community of learners where they freely interact with faculty. He is an exemplar of teaching excellence.”

President’s Professors were chosen by an advisory panel of six faculty, a student, a Parents Association representative and an external reviewer. The panel was chaired by professor Morton Munk.

By Sarah Auffret. Auffret, with Marketing & Strategic Communications, can be reached at (480) 965-6991 or (
May 2, 2005


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