Five named Thurnau Professors

Five 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 announced at the Feb. 19 Board of Regents meeting.

Gehring (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

The honorees are: William Gehring, associate professor of psychology, LSA; J. Wayne Jones, professor of materials and metallurgical engineering, College of Engineering (COE); Elizabeth Moje, associate professor of education, School of Education; Scott Moore, associate professor of computer and information systems, Business School; and Robert Owen, associate dean for undergraduate education and long-range planning, and professor of marine geochemistry, LSA.

The 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 designates Thurnau Professors for a three-year term and grants $20,000 per recipient to support teaching activities.

According to Richard Gonzalez, the chair of his department, “Professor Gehring is a spectacular teacher in every setting in which he has been given teaching assignments.” From small first-year seminars to the large auditoriums of Psychology 340, he has found ways to make his expertise accessible, while still challenging students, his citation says.

In addition to his classroom teaching, Gehring regularly mentors undergraduate students in his lab, teaching them complex technical skills. He also mentors graduate students and faculty colleagues in psychology, sharing his materials and methods, allowing them to sit in on his classes, observing their classes and offering constructive feedback, the citation says.

As both a teacher and administrator, Jones has dedicated his career to improving undergraduate education at U-M for more than 26 years, the citation says. During his tenure as associate dean for undergraduate education in COE, he spearheaded the college’s re-accreditation efforts and provided leadership for the development of Curriculum 2000, an ambitious undergraduate curricular reform project.

Jones receives outstanding evaluations in the courses he teaches and twice has been recognized with the Mechanical Engineering Teaching Incentive Award. His teaching style is characterized by energy and passion, and he is widely recognized for engaging students both in and out of the classroom, the citation says.

Moje’s research findings in the area of literacy education have led to an innovative philosophy of teaching that encourages her students to integrate theory, academic research and practical skills, the citation says. She is perhaps best known to undergraduate education students as the instructor of ED 402, a course required of all students in the secondary teacher preparation program.

Through undergraduate research mentorship programs, Moje shares her passion for scholarly research with future generations of educators. She also draws students into the community with projects such as “Telling It,” an Arts of Citizenship program in which undergraduate students conduct arts-based literacy activities with children who live in homeless shelters.

Regarded as an outstanding classroom teacher, Moore is able to make difficult subjects accessible through mentoring and support of students, while maintaining challenging standards, the citation says. He designs courses in which students are actively engaged in projects based on real-world examples. Students have recognized his efforts by honoring him twice with the outstanding BBA Teacher of the Year Award, something no other faculty member has accomplished, the citation says.

He mentors new faculty on their teaching and shares with colleagues the course materials he has developed. While on sabbatical in 2003, he served on a committee to review the curriculum for the bachelor of business administration degree program.

“During the past 29 years, [Owen] has sustained a record of excellence in all aspects of undergraduate education,” says Terrence McDonald, dean of LSA. As associate dean of undergraduate education, Owen has worked on curricular reform, enabling LSA students to earn academic minors, increase the number of credits they can take outside the college and receive distribution credit for interdisciplinary courses.

In recognition of his undergraduate teaching, Owen has won the Amoco Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award and is a four-time winner of the LSA Excellence in Education Award. Many students name his geological field course in Jackson, Wyo., as a highlight of their U-M careers, the citation says.

For more information about the Thurnau Professorship, visit http://www.


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