6 faculty members named Thurnau Professors for undergraduate education

The University Record, March 11, 1998







By Wono Lee
News and Information Services

Six faculty members have been named to the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, which “recognizes and rewards faculty for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.” The appointments were approved by the Regents at their February meeting.

Those honored are Tomas Almaguer, associate professor of sociology and American culture; Frederick R. Amrine, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures; Donald S. Lopez Jr., professor of Buddhist and Tibetan studies; Yale N. Patt, professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Theresa L. Tinkle, associate professor of English; and Fawwaz T. Ulaby, the R. Jamison and Betty Williams Professor of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

The Thurnau Professorships, named after Arthur F. Thurnau, a U-M student in 1902–04, are supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust established through his will. The University each year selects faculty members who are designated Thurnau Professors for a three-year term and receive a grant to support their teaching activities.

Almaguer has made “a considerable investment in the development of our curriculum in the areas of race and ethnicity, Chicano/Latino studies, and human sexuality, as well as in undergraduate teaching that has had a demonstrable impact on the intellectual development and lives of his students,” said Provost Nancy Cantor. “The material he uses in his courses demonstrates his strong commitment to a multidisciplinary viewpoint and his courses are taught from this perspective. His teaching exemplifies the value of balancing the development of knowledge with the need for students to take responsibility for the society in which they live.”

Amrine is “an excellent teacher, very much committed to teaching undergraduates at all levels and with a variety of interests and capacities,” Cantor said. “With his encouragement and untiring efforts, students enjoy opportunities for interdisciplinary work in fourth-semester language courses that focus on such topics as mathematical and scientific German, Mozart and post world War II politics and society. Under his leadership, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures is becoming one of the most truly interdisciplinary departments in the humanities at Michigan, and has proved increasingly attractive to students.”

Lopez, “a brilliant, world-class scholar of Buddhist studies, has made extraordinary contributions to undergraduate education. He has taught many courses in Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, and other world religions including Christianity and Judaism. He has been recognized as an exceptional and engaging teacher whose teaching style, even in large classes, is characterized by enthusiastic student participation. His commitment to undergraduate teaching has extended beyond the classroom.”

Patt “has devoted enormous creative energy and intellectual effort in the development and restructuring of core engineering courses,” Cantor said. “He is a scholar of international acclaim who has received the highest honors in his field, yet both by his statements and by his actions, he has shown that of all the activities that demand his time, he is truly dedicated to undergraduate teaching. He is well-recognized by students as a very demanding instructor. Students have commented that they have learned an enormous amount from Prof. Patt, and that they feel privileged to have had him for an instructor.”

Tinkle has had “a powerful influence in redirecting interest in and enthusiasm for teaching lower-division courses in the English Department. She inspires writing as a vital intellectual exercise that should be passed on to undergraduates. As director of first- and second-year studies, she has transformed the training and supervision of graduate student instructors of freshman composition, bringing rigor, commitment and concern; she is an outstanding role model for beginning teachers and has been active on University-wide committees and task forces to improve undergraduate pedagogy.”

Ulaby is “widely recognized for his pioneering research and exemplary service as well as his long-standing commitment to and love for teaching,” Cantor noted. “His undergraduate teaching involves a project he has dedicated himself to for the past four years. Electromagnetics (EM) has traditionally been considered a difficult topic in electrical engineering, mainly because it is somewhat abstract in nature and it requires a great deal of mathematical rigor. In 1993, Prof. Ulaby decided to introduce a new way to teach EM by writing a textbook with a fairly radical approach, designing a new undergraduate laboratory and writing a companion laboratory manual.”


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