2010 Recipients of the McCormick Teaching Professorships

Hans Jørgen Jensen
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence 

Hans Jensen joined the faculty in 1987 and is one of the nation's top cello pedagogues, a highly esteemed performer and instructor who is passionate and creative about his teaching. One of his most important goals is to help students discover their own aspirations, whether in music or a different field. One former student says, "the confidence, drive to succeed and lack of fear that I developed while studying with Hans have been instrumental in my success in the world of finance." Jensen combines his knowledge of cello playing, kinesiology, yoga, and Zen to emphasize that skilled performance combines an economy of motion with technical mastery. He is also known for utilizing methods not traditionally associated with teaching music performance - such as creating a website for students to self-evaluate their performances; using computer software to visualize sound, intonation and techniques; and using knowledge gained from a number of sources measuring electromyography (EMG) activity in the muscles to illustrate how changing one's focus of attention affects the motor system. This unique ability to individualize his teaching methods, to dissect and creatively solve technical problems, and to nurture his students inspires great loyalty. He is cited as a "mentor", an "ideal of selflessness", and "the most influential, inspiring, demanding, and incredible teacher of my life."

Jensen is the recipient of countless awards, including the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music Exemplar in Teaching Award. His students have gone on to teach and hold positions in many major orchestras and prestigious music schools, including The New York Philharmonic and The Graz Philharmonic in Austria.

Indira M. Raman
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence 

Indira M. Raman joined the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology in 1999. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses, including neurobiology for the Integrated Science Program, cellular neurophysiology, and biophysics. As an educator and neuroscientist, she works to develop teaching methods that not only help students learn but also make them aware of their own learning processes. In designing lectures, she considers her students' majors and backgrounds, initially relating her course material to topics that are familiar and interesting to them, ranging from protein crystal structures for biology majors to Fourier analysis for math majors. Starting from their own knowledge base, she then presents her students with challenges, while providing the tools they need to meet these challenges. Teaching from "first principles," she pushes her students to achieve a deep understanding of science and its methods, rooted in evidence-based reasoning, including how experimental results were obtained, when, and by whom. One former student praises her emphasis on interdisciplinary learning: "the discussions generated were extraordinarily engrossing, training one to use every bit of background possible to approach a single problem."

Raman's research focuses on ion channels and synaptic transmission in the cerebellum. She has received a Searle Scholar Award, a Klingenstein Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences, and a Sloan Fellowship, and has served on multiple editorial boards and grant review panels. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the ISP Faculty Service Award, the Excellence in Instruction Award, and the Clarence L. Ver Steeg Graduate Faculty Award. 

Angela G. Ray
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Angela G. Ray joined the Communication Studies department in 2003. She has a reputation as a "challenging, rigorous, engaging and helpful" instructor. While many of her classes focus on a specialized area of study, persuasion in U.S. history, the overarching goal of her teaching is to develop students' critical-thinking skills and analytic abilities so they are best prepared to meet life's challenges. She strives to combine conceptual knowledge and practical experience in all of her courses, so that students are able to watch a campaign speech and understand the speaker's range of appeals, or to characterize major elements of historical controversies, or to teach others about the development of rhetorical criticism. Former students of hers are in a breathtakingly wide array of fields: pursuing graduate degrees in communication or history, studying law, business or medicine, teaching in urban schools, serving in the U.S. Navy, working as a Hollywood literary agent, and playing professional football. Many of them provide glowing reviews of time spent in her classroom. One says that "my eye for detail and critical analysis is infinitely better as a result of her." Another asserts that she is "the kind of professor who should be rewarded - a teacher."

Ray has received two student-nominated teaching awards at Northwestern, the Clarence Ver Steeg Graduate Faculty Award and the Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award. In addition, she has served on department, School, and University committees, including the Undergraduate Research Grants Committee.

Mary M. Poole
Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer

As a senior lecturer in the Department of Theater, Mary M. Poole has encouraged twenty years of students to grow and learn through a performing arts curriculum developed by Alvina Krause, and rooted in the liberal arts foundation. Poole's acting students use performance as a method of examination and exploration, applied to questions of communication theory, human behavior, and the ideas raised by great texts and stories.  Students build a trusting and respectful cohort in her sequenced courses, which emboldens them to make intuitive leaps or take expressive risks. Poole utilizes that creative space and energy to further challenge both minds and hearts. A former student describes it as, "one of the most incredible environments to learn in. It's comfortable and nurturing, but when she needs to say something, she does. Her criticism is always constructive and always helpful. She knows what she's talking about and she knows how to communicate it." Poole's approachable, nurturing style makes her one of the most sought after instructors in her department. 
 
Poole serves as the Master of Jones Fine and Performing Arts Residential College, where her teaching continues in the informal contexts of the dining hall, performance hours, trips to performances downtown, and conversations around the Jones barbeque grill. She is on leave from the Undergraduate Research Grants committee this year in order to act in Arsenic and Old Lace on campus, and Stage Door in Chicago. Next year she directs Brighton Beach Memoirs in the mainstage season.

Michael F. Smutko
Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer

Michael F. Smutko has taught courses in the Physics and Astronomy Department ranging from freshman seminars to graduate courses, but his true expertise as senior lecturer is evidenced in the way he inspires students in his large introductory courses of up to 500 students.  In some quarters he teaches science to more undergraduates than any other instructor on campus, while maintaining some of the highest CTEC scores of anyone in his department.  Students expressed their enthusiasm by electing Smutko to the ASG Faculty Honor Roll three times.  One of his 485 Astronomy 101 students in 2007 said, "He deserves far more in life than the standing ovation that we gave him on the last day of class."  Another student expounds on the impact Smutko has on his students: "I came into this class as an English major with an extreme bias against science and came out wanting to be a Physics and Astronomy major.  Seriously, Smutko is amazing."

Smutko has also served as a WCAS freshman adviser for his seminar students, as well as the Associate Master in the Shepard Residential College.  His superb teaching and advising skills led the Residential College program to ask him to participate in a pilot program where students in his seminar live together and build a true learning community.  Smutko also engages students outside of the classroom through his involvement  with the Adler Planetarium, where he holds a joint appointment, and his work with the Dearborn Observatory where he trains and mentors students to host weekly viewing sessions at the Dearborn Telescope.