2003 Recipients of the McCormick and Alumnæ Teaching Professorships
J. Edward Colgate is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (S.B. 1983, S.M. 1986, Ph.D. 1988). He joined Northwestern’s faculty in 1988 where he is currently Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Institute for Design Engineering and Applications. Students praise his ability to communicate difficult concepts effectively and his genuine concern for the progress and wellbeing of his students. He led the team that developed the two-course sequence in Engineering Design and Communications, a program that has gained national recognition for providing both hands-on design and technical writing experience to first-year students. Students who have taken this course praise his willingness to help them solve their design problems and to open his laboratory to them. He received the Northwestern University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000 and was named to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll in 1994 and 1995. Internationally renowned for his work with robots that work collaboratively and safely with humans, he is co-founder of Cobotics, Inc., the leading provider of Intelligent Assist Devices for the industrial marketplace. A member of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation editorial board, he has published articles on topics ranging from robotics, interdisciplinary collaboration, and haptic systems. His research has been sponsored by numerous organizations, including the Margaret W. and Herbert Hoover, Jr. Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Association, and the National Science Foundation.
David Downs is a graduate of Allegheny College (B.A. 1968) and Loyola University (M.A. 1971). He joined Northwestern’s faculty in 1973 where he is now Associate Professor of Theatre. Students describe him as an inspirational and challenging teacher who provokes them to think about and connect with the world around them. Theatre majors who have taken his three-year acting sequence extol his ability to teach them how to express the heights and depths of human experience through voice, body, heart, and mind. Having taught several acting courses for non-majors, he has profoundly affected students who will never set foot on a professional stage, encouraging them to take risks by exploring unfamiliar emotions and states of mind. Since 1997, he has co-directed the New Leagues Program, which prepares selected senior acting students for the opportunity to audition in New York before agents, casting directors, and television and film personnel. Several of his former pupils have gone on to enjoy successful television and film careers. He was named in 1994 and 1995 to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll and received in 1997 the Alumni Association Teaching Award. An accomplished director Downs has directed over twenty stage productions, ranging from Shakespeare to Chekhov to contemporary playwrights such as Timberlake Wertenbaker. Also a highly regarded actor, he has appeared in numerous theatre productions, television programs, and films. Downs is the author of The Actor’s Eye: Seeing and Being Seen (1995), a study of acting pedagogy, and three plays.
Barbara J. Newman is a graduate of Oberlin College (B.A. 1975), University of Chicago (M.A.Div. 1976), and Yale University (Ph.D. 1981). She joined the Northwestern faculty in 1981 where she is now Professor of English and Religion. Her students describe her as a dedicated, knowledgeable, and captivating teacher. Those who have taken her popular Chaucer course commend her ability to make the study of challenging subject matter enjoyable and important. Students are inspired by her boundless passion for literature and admire her as a role model of the engaged intellect. Her influence upon her students extends beyond the classroom, where she is a valued advisor and mentor revered for her attentiveness to student concerns. Newman received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991 and was named to the Associated Student Government’s Faculty Honor Roll in 1987 and 1996. An eminent scholar of medieval literature, culture, and religion, she is the author of four books and over seventy articles, essays and reviews. Her study Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine (1987) was named an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice in 1987 and has been translated into German and Japanese. Her recent book God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages came out to critical acclaim. She is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Travel Grant, an American Council of Learned Societies Grant, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also just concluding a term as Master of the Humanities Residential College.
Kathleen A. Stair is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A. 1981, Ph.D. 1986). She joined Northwestern’s faculty in 1994 where she is now Senior Lecturer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Students describe her as a dedicated, enthusiastic, and approachable teacher who is able to bring engineering to life in laboratories that span the materials science curriculum. Those who have taken her Principles of the Properties of Materials lab say that she provides them with the practical foundations upon which they can build deeper theoretical understandings of the concepts taught in lecture. Students appreciate how she fosters a climate of discovery and active participation and appreciate her willingness to help them develop demonstrations that they in turn use in community outreach programs with grade-school students. They admire her as a role model and trusted mentor to whom they can turn for academic, career and personal counsel. She has made numerous curricular innovations, developed new laboratories and improved existing ones, and is the Manager of the Metallography and Laboratory and Digital Darkroom. Author or co-author of over thirty publications, she was named the Materials Science and Engineering Teacher of the Year for 2001 – 2002.
Mallory Beth Thompson is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A. 1979, M.A. 1980) and the Eastman School of Music (D. Mus. A. 1985). She joined Northwestern’s faculty in 1996 where she is currently Professor of Music. Students call her a passionate and committed teacher who expertly develops their musical talent by awakening these same qualities in them. Those who have played in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which she conducts, describe it as a demanding experience that effectively prepares them for the rigors of professional performance. As Director of Bands, she has had the opportunity to significantly impact many non-music majors who count participation in marching band one of the most fulfilling elements of their education. She has educated and captivated audiences ranging from the toddlers who participate in Northwestern’s monthly Kids Fare program to the octogenarians in the Learning in Retirement program. A nationally-respected clinician and model educator, Thompson has made over 100 guest engagements and is much sought-after to conduct high school and college honor ensembles. She has had the privilege of being invited to conduct the Naval Academy Band, the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band, and the prestigious United States Army Band in Washington, D. C. She has been recognized by two national music fraternities with the Outstanding Service to Music award in 1999 and the Bandmaster of the Year award in 2001.