2000 Recipients of the McCormick and Alumnæ Teaching Professorships

Paul Arntson
Alumnae of Northwestern Teaching Professor

Paul Arntson received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Communication Arts and joined the Communication Studies Department in 1974.  He is on the faculty of the Asset Based Community Development Institute at the Institute for Policy Research and a Fellow at the Center for Communication and Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Arntson teaches leadership and decision-making courses at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level in the Masters of Manufacturing Management program, in the Managerial Communication Masters program, and in the Ph.D. program. Through a Ford Foundation Grant on Difficult Dialogues he developed and hosts a first year seminar on how to discuss issues of identity, diversity, and religion. His research includes understanding how pediatric cancer survivors and their parents communicate about their cancer experiences, investigating how to improve communication between primary care providers and deaf patients, evaluating community living options for adults with disabilities, and documenting how community based organizations contribute to the well-being of their neighborhoods. 

Arntson was the founder and then director of Northwestern University’s Undergraduate Leadership Program for 12 years.  He is also the founding coordinator of Northwestern University’s Public Interest Program that places graduating seniors in public interest fellowships each year.  He teaches in the Certificate for Service Learning Program, the Center for Global Engagement and recently helped establish the Center for Civic Engagement.

Nicola K. Beisel
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Nicola K. Beisel is a graduate of Bowdoin College (B.A., 1980) and University of Michigan (Ph. D. 1990). She joined the Northwestern University faculty in 1990 where she is now Associate Professor of Sociology. Beisel is praised by her students as an outstanding catalyst to the development of their intellectual reasoning capacities and for challenging them to examine arguments critically in a manner that fosters independent insight. They say she treats them as intellectual partners, encourages the free flow ideas and builds intellectual community. They comment on the high expectations she holds for them, inspiring them to reach beyond accepting the ordinary, to delve deeply into their own ideas, to buttress their arguments with facts, research, and data and that her classes challenge them to engage the meaning of gender and to confront subconscious limits to their perceptions of the malleability of gender roles. Beisel has been recognized for her exceptional teaching with the Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly work on the politics of reproduction and abortion has resulted in numerous articles and books including Imperiled Innnocents: Anthony Comstock and Family Reproduction in Victorian America. Her work has been recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellowship at the National Humanities Center.

Richard Gaber
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Richard Gaber is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.S. 1974, Ph. D. 1982). He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1986 where he is Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology. Gaber is widely recognized as a gifted lecturer, tuning difficult material to suit the needs of an exceedingly demanding and diverse group of students. He has taught the introductory course in biology to legions of students, adroitly managing to present difficult and complex material that is new to many students while maintaining the attention of those with deeper backgrounds. Gaber was one of the first faculty members to incorporate smart classroom and the FirstClass network technology, establishing an especially high standard of clarity in classroom presentations. In his advanced genetics course, upper-level biology majors read primary research literature, rather than pre-digested textbooks, giving them a far more complete understanding of the demands and accomplishments of biological research. He enthusiastically encourages undergraduates to particpate in research themselves and many pursue honors research projects under his supervision. Gaber has received the Award for Teaching Excellence from the Northwestern Alumni Association. His research has resulted in dozens of publications and is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Michael Kocour
Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer

Michael Kocour is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1985) He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1991 where he is now Lecturer in Jazz Studies. Kocour’s students describe how he teaches by demonstration, facilitating in them the development of a nuanced understanding of the art’s modes of expression. They praise his passion for jazz and his genuinely humble demeanor that create a comfortable but rigorous learning environment, one that dramatically develops their abilities, confidence, and knowledge. Kocour’s curricular innovations, classes, and lessons have brought Northwestern’s jazz program national renown. His jazz appreciation courses for non-music majors, especially the one on Thelonius Monk, bring his love of jazz and his inspired teaching broad exposure. Kocour’s influence extends beyond the classroom through his commitment to his students, winning him their esteem as an instructor and as a mentor and friend. Himself a jazz musician of considerable talent, Kocour has performed with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and James Moody, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the American Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra. He has received Jazz Study grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, was a semi-finalist at the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, and has performed in a multitude of local, national, and international venues.

Gary Saul Morson
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Gary Saul Morson is graduate of Yale University (B.A. 1969, Ph. D. 1974). He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1986 where he is the Francis Hooper Professor of the Arts and Humanities. Morson’s students cite his profound impact on them with an influence that extends well beyond the study of literary texts into the consideration of broader questions such as how one might live a more sensitive and compassionate life and become a better human being. He is renowned as a flamboyant and dramatic lecturer, performing texts with a passion that often elicits standing ovations from his class. Students say they emerge from his courses profoundly affected. Morson’s research has led to over 50 publications and numerous books, including Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time winner of the 1996 Rene Wellek prize of the American Comparative Literature Association and Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics, winner of the 1992 Best Scholarly Book of the Year award from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. He is the founder and general editor of three book series, with over twenty volumes among them. Among other recognitions, he has received a National Center for the Humanities Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as the Master of the Northwestern’s Residential College of Cultural and Community Studies.

Allen Taflove
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Allen Taflove is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.S. 1971, Ph. D. 1975). He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1984 where he is now Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His students praise his ability for making mathematically complex concepts relevant by discussing their engineering applications. On a regular basis he creatively reshapes the content of his courses to include tools and techniques for solving real-world engineering problems. Students and colleagues alike consistently praise the enthusiasm with which he conveys the significance of practical applications of engineering design, a matter he carries over to his own career as the holder of eleven U.S. patents. From its inception Taflove has been deeply involved with the McCormick Design Competition, an annual event during which teams of students design and then build devices to real-world standards. His students remark on his concern for their welfare and his virtually time-unlimited open door for those who seek his help. Taflove has pioneered basic theoretical approaches and engineering applications of finite-difference time-domain computational electromagnetics. He has authored three books, numerous book chapters, and more than 70 papers. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, U.S. Army Breast Cancer Program, Cray Research, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, among many others.