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Honors & Other Things

Penn Medal for Distinguished Achievement: Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, received the University of Pennsylvania Medal for Distinguished Achievement when he spoke to the Penn community last Monday. President Amy Gutmann conferred the Penn Medal to Mr. Soyinka as part of the evening’s event.

The Citation accompanying the University of Pennsylvania Medal for Distinguished Achievement conferred on November 29, 2004 reads:

You have been called a criminal by despots; “one of the finest poetical playwrights that have written in English” by the Swedish Academy; and “the conscience of Nigeria” by your former student, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Whatever the adjectives used by others, you are best described by your own words. “I have one abiding religion,” you have said. “Human liberty.”

Dramatist, poet, director, novelist, essayist and once chief of the Road Safety Corps in Nigeria, you have lived your life, first and foremost, as a citizen’s advocate for human freedom, truth and justice.

You have said, “Social commitment is a citizen’s commitment and embraces equally the carpenter, the mason, the banker, the farmer, the customs officer, not forgetting the critic. I accept a general citizens’ commitment, which only happens to express itself through art and words.”

In 1986, you became the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Your writing—before and since–has proved prolific and enduring. Although written nearly 30 years ago, Death and the King’s Horseman is now playing to rave reviews at St. Stephen’s Theater in Philadelphia.

Living and writing under the conditions of colonialism, neo-colonialism and military dictatorship in Nigeria has required uncommon courage.  For your words, you have been imprisoned, tortured, forced into exile, and banned at various times over the past 30 years. Still, you have refused to be silenced. Like that of other African writers who rose to prominence during the 20th century, your work has, of necessity, been politically engaged. Yet, it has retained its artistic power.

You exemplify the best of an engaged life. As an artist, you are at once a part of your culture and transcend it. You have helped all of us—North and South, East and West—to embrace what it means to be a fully engaged human living in the history of our times.

In recognition of your innumerable contributions to world literature and human society, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania are honored to present you with this Medal for Distinguished Achievement.

Two Marshall Scholars: Ms. Bal & Mr. Mandujano

Gabriel Mandujano Harveen Bal

For the first time ever, two Penn students have won a Marshall Scholarship the same year.

Two seniors in the College have won Marshall Scholarships: Ms. Harveen Bal, a health and society major with a concentration in international health, and minors in psychology and chemistry, and Mr. Gabriel Mandujano, a dual degree student in the College and Wharton with majors in international relations and real estate and a minor in urban studies.

Ms. Bal, a University Scholar from Bloomfield, New Jersey, will pursue a masters in philosophy at Oxford.

Mr. Mandujano, a native of Rockville, Maryland, who is in the Huntsman program, will work toward a master in Latin American government and politics at the University of Essex and an M.S. in international housing at the London School of Economics.

They join five other Penn Marshall Scholars: Michael Klarman (1985), Paul Borgese (1991), Andrew March (2001), Ari Alexander (2002), and Adam Zimbler (2004), bringing the total number of Penn Marshall winners to seven.

Order of the Rising Sun: Dr. Smith

Amos Smith

The government of Japan  has awarded Dr. Amos Smith, the William Warren Rhodes-Robert J. Thompson Chair of Chemistry, its Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for his outstanding contributions to the training and education of Japanese scientists and for the promotion of academic exchange between Japan and the United States.  He is a visiting director and honorary member of the Kitasato Institute in Tokyo. The Order of the Rising Sun—established in 1875—is awarded for exceptional civil or military merit.

Dr. Smith’s research encompasses synthetic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry and materials science. He is internationally known for his outstanding achievements in the area of total synthesis of architecturally complex natural products having important bio-regulatory properties.

AAAS Fellows: Five Faculty Members

Five Penn faculty members have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Barry S. Cooperman, professor of chemistry, Dr. Roselyn J. Eisenberg, professor of microbiology, department of pathobiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. David E. Elder, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, HUP, Dr. Neal Nathanson, professor emeritus of microbiology, in the School of Medicine, and associate dean for global health program, and Dr. Virgil Percec, the P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry, in SAS, were among the 308 new members.

Best Book: Dr. Mutz

Dr. Diana Mutz, the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor in Political Science and Communication, has received the American Political Science Association’s 2004 Doris Graber Outstanding Book Award for the best book on political communications in the last ten years. Her book, Impersonal Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes  (Cambridge University Press, 1998), explores how political attitudes and behaviors can be influenced by information about distant and impersonal others. The book was also awarded the Robert Lane Prize for best book in political psychology by the Association in 1999. A scholar of mass media and political behavior, Dr. Mutz specializes in public opinion, research design, and political psychology.

Lincoln Book Prize: Dr. Nathans

Dr. Benjamin Nathans, associate professor of history, has received the W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize, which is presented biennially for the first published book of exceptional merit and lasting significance for the understanding of Russia’s past by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS). He received the award for his book, Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia, published by University of California Press.

Best Paper: Dr. Falleti

Dr. Tulia Falleti, assistant professor of political science, has received the Best Paper Prize of the Latin American Studies Association’s Section on Decentralization and National Studies for her essay,Of Presidents, Governors, and Mayors: The Politics of Decentralization in Latin America.” Dr. Falleti specializes in issues of federalism, intergovernmental relations and decentralization.

Mosenthal Award: Dr. Birnbaum

Dr. Morris J. Birnbaum, professor of medicine and cell and developmental biology in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism in the School of Medicine, has been recognized by the Northeastern Division of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for his many significant contributions to diabetes research. The Mosenthal Award, established in 1966, was presented during the 52nd Annual Gerald Friedman Scientific Symposium. Dr. Birnbaum’s research involves the regulation of metabolism and growth, and he is currently studying the mechanism by which insulin regulates a number of physiological metabolic functions.

APHA Board: Dr. Kumanyika

Dr. Shiriki K. Kumanyika, associate dean for health promotion and disease prevention, director of the Graduate Program in Public Health sciences and professor of epidemiology in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology in the School of Medicine, has been elected to a four-year term on the executive board of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The Association is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health. Its top priorities include improving access to care, improving the public health infrastructure and eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. The Executive Board is a 24-member body that serves on behalf of the APHA Governing Council to steer the organization and coordinate activities.

Editor’s Note: Please send info about honors and awards to millerm@pobox.upenn.edu.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 14, December 7, 2004


December 7, 2004
Volume 51 Number 14


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