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Lindback and Provost's Awards—Sketches of the 2007 Winners
April 17, 2007, Volume 53, No. 30

Since 1961, Lindback Awards—for members of the standing faculty—have been a springtime tradition at Penn. The Provost’s Awards—for full- and part-time associated faculty and academic support staff —have also been given in conjunction with the Lindbacks since 1988. A new University-wide award to honor faculty who teach and mentor doctoral students was begun in 2003 for members of the standing or associated faculty in any school offering the Ph.D. Below are profiles and excerpts from colleagues’ and students’ letters of recommendation for this year’s winners.

Teaching Award Reception: Monday, April 23

All members of the University community
are cordially invited to
a reception honoring the
recipients of the
Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback
Foundation Awards
for Distinguished Teaching
and the Provost’s Award 2006—2007
as well as the
Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D.
Teaching and Mentoring

Monday, April 23
5-6:30 p.m.
Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall

Non-Health Schools
  • Matthew Adler
  • Nancy Bentley
  • Larry Sipe
  • Jeffrey Winkler
  • Provost's Award: Tom Cassel
  • Health Schools
  • Julie Fairman
  • David Holt
  • Edward Macarak
  • Amy Pruitt
  • Provost's Award: James White
  • Non-Health Schools

    Matthew Adler—Law School

    Matthew Adler

    Matthew Adler is the Leon Meltzer Professor of Law and teaches courses in Administrative Law and Constitutional Law. He received a B.A. and a J.D. from Yale University and a M.Litt. in history from Oxford University where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. His students speak of Professor Adler’s dynamic and engaging classroom method and the School of Law’s graduating class of Penn has twice awarded him the Harvey Levin Award for Distinguished Teaching. One student says that the “back-and-forth and give-and-take creates an unparalleled learning environment.”

    Another exclaims, “I have had more ‘aha’ moments in Professor Adler’s class than in any other class I have attended.” A colleague writes that “he is relentless in his pursuit of knowledge and dazzling in his ability to tease it out of others.”

    Nancy Bentley—School of Arts and Sciences

    Nancy Bentley

    Nancy Bentley is an Associate Professor of English in the School of Arts and Sciences. She received a B.A. from Brigham Young University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her wide range of teaching topics includes law and literature, social theory, and African-American literature which she teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Her students describe her courses as “impressively managed,” “intense” and “challenging.” Both undergraduates and graduate students describe her as very generous with her time, making time outside of class “to listen with care” to their concerns and over-enrolling courses rather than turn students away from her courses. One graduate student writes that Professor Bentley is “my model for the type of scholar and teacher I would like to become.” A colleague suggests that Professor Bentley’s “great art is her ability to make everything work while effacing her own centrality from the production” and credits her “consummate organization, good sense, and a combination of assured control and ready flexibility.”

    Larry Sipe—Graduate School of Education

    Larry Sipe

    Larry Sipe is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education and currently serves as the Chair of the Graduate Group in Education and as the Faculty Master of Harrison College House. He received a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.Ed. from Temple University, and a B.A. from The University of Chicago. His teaching includes the courses Literature for Children and Young Adults, and Responding to Literature. His students universally acclaim his mastery of the subject and his enthusiasm for teaching it. One student makes clear that Professor Sipe’s enthusiasm extends beyond the classroom, writing that he opens “the doors to his office to talk about potential projects, counsel students on issues of practice, make book recommendations, and lend books for readalouds from his collection.” A colleague remarks that what can appear as effortless teaching excellence is created because he “deliberately designs activities in each class that foster collaborative discovery.”

    Jeffrey Winkler—School of Arts and Sciences

    Jeffrey Winkler

    Jeffrey Winkler is a professor of chemistry and a founding member of the Center for Cancer Pharmacology. He received an A.B. from Harvard and two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He teaches Organic Chemistry, generally considered one of the most challenging courses at Penn to teach or to take. He also teaches graduate-level courses and provides a large number of opportunities for students in his lab. His students describe the way he is able to connect to them even in large lecture courses and one describes his lectures as filled with “clarity and passion.” Another describes his “emphasis on fairness and integrity” in his course combined with a desire to “see every student succeed.” A colleague singles out Professor Winkler’s ability as an advisor and mentor saying that “he has a knack for cutting through to the heart of issues that might be on the minds of students, providing sage counsel in terms of courses and career paths.”

    Provost’s Award: Tom Cassel—SEAS

    Tom Cassel

    Tom Cassel is Practice Professor and the director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received a B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches courses in engineering entrepreneurship. His reputation as a great teacher leads many students to take his courses despite having no prior interest in the subject. Students describe his enthusiasm, dedication, and organization as his key attributes as a teacher. One said that Professor Cassel’s “personal touch, coupled with his natural affability” made him feel he was talking to a “colleague or a friend.” In reviewing his accomplishments, one of his colleagues calls him a beacon lighting the way toward the broad view, socially aware, and economically savvy technologists of the future.”


    Health Schools

    Julie Fairman—School of Nursing

    Julie Fairman

    Julie A. Fairman is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor of Nursing, and Director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing. She received her Ph.D. and M.S.N. from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.S.N. from Albright College. Since joining the standing faculty in 1992, Dr. Fairman has been instrumental in both undergraduate and graduate education at the School of Nursing. She has served as the lead educator for the sophomore year clinical courses, chaired various task forces on curricular change, and has served as the Chair of the Graduate Group.

    An undergraduate student says Dr. Fairman encourages her students to “explore and find the joy” in the classroom and that her “passion for her field as well as nursing is contagious.” Another writes that Dr. Fairman’s “most important attribute as a teacher is her willingness to learn from her students.” As the director of several dissertations and senior inquiries, her teaching includes the work of mentoring young scholars through the research experience. A colleague says that both in and out of the classroom, Dr. Fairman makes “the experience of her teaching feel like being part of an exhilarating process of discovery.”

    David E. Holt—School of Veterinary Medicine

    David Holt

    David E. Holt is Professor of Surgery, Clinician Educator at the School of Veterinary Medicine. He came to Penn from Australia in 1985 to serve as Intern and then Resident in Small Animal Surgery. He received his B.VSc. from the

    University of Sydney . Dr. Holt currently serves as Section Chief in Surgery and teaches a variety of courses on surgery topics. One student reports that Dr. Holt “asks questions during his lectures that draw students into material” and that allow them to “think critically about the decisions that a surgeon faces.” Another admires his “interactive and thought-provoking teaching style.” Students and colleagues speak highly of his leadership in developing a shelter medicine program that offers students hands-on training at local animal shelters. A colleague writes that she has “never met anyone as genuinely enthusiastic about teaching and interacting with students.”

    Edward J. Macarak—School of Dental Medicine

    Edward Macarak

    Edward J. Macarak joined the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology in the School of Dental Medicine in 1992 and currently serves as Professor and Chairman of the Department. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his A.B. from Hamilton College. He has long taught courses in, and has a long history of involvement with teaching at the School of Dental Medicine in the fields of histology, physiology, and anatomy. His students speak very highly of Dr. Macarak’s mentorship, especially in incorporating undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows into his laboratory and providing what one student calls “a personal touch” with everyone in his lab. A former student describes Dr. Macarak’s “special skill for translational research” and reports that what he learned under Dr. Macarak’s tutelage has been “invaluable in both my clinical and basic science research.” For all Dr. Macarak’s skill as an educator in his lab, he is also a model in the classroom. One colleague says his lectures are “fascinating and provocative. They are never given by rote.”

    Amy Pruitt—School of Medicine

    Amy Pruitt

    Amy Pruitt is an Associate Professor of Neurology in the School of Medicine. She came to Penn in 1991 from Harvard where she earned an M.D. She received a B.A. from Cornell University and studied at the University of Oxford. Dr. Pruitt has been the guiding force behind the Neurology 200 clerkship and teaches neurology to every Penn medical student. One of her residents says that Dr. Pruitt’s “clinical acumen, teaching style, and knowledge base is unsurpassed.” And another says Dr. Pruitt has the “uncommon skill” of providing “just the few key bits of data you needed for the whole problem to make sense.” Students and colleagues uniformly praise her work in transforming the neurology clerkship into what one person calls “a highly-organized, required rotation which is now taken very seriously by the students and well respected by the faculty.”

    Provost’s Award: James White—School of Medicine

    James White

    James White is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Medicine where he teaches a number of introductory courses including Gross Anatomy. He received his Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University in anatomy and his B.A. from Lynchburg College. In addition to anatomy, Dr. White also teaches neuroscience and histology. Dr. White is universally praised as a great teacher whose excellent skills span the lecture room and the laboratory. One student describes his anatomy class as an “interactive learning journey throughout the human body.” Another references Dr. White’s “dynamic style,” “his commitment to transferring enthusiasm” and “his genuine warmth” as evidence of his great “collection of skills” as a teacher. A colleague says that despite the overwhelming amount of material, Dr. White “does not ‘spoon feed’ our students; he gives them the tools and the confidence to learn independently.”


    Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Awards at the
    University of Pennsylvania: Awarded for Distinguished Teaching

    The Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania were established in 1961 with the help of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. Christian Lindback was president and principal of Abbotts Dairies, Inc. and a trustee of Bucknell University. The Foundation established Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at colleges and universities throughout the Abbotts Dairies, Inc.’s service area in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

    The University of Pennsylvania normally gives out eight Lindback Awards each year, divided evenly between health-related disciplines and all other departments and divisions. Award winners are determined by nominations and recommendations made by faculty and students in December based on certain guidelines. Two separate committees, one in the Health Schools and one in the Non-Health Schools, consisting of six previous award winners and four students, carefully decide among the nominees. Winners receive a Lindback Foundation scroll and a cash award of $3,000. During the 1960s, Lindback Awards were presented at Commencement.

    During the 1970s, previous winners of the Lindback Award organized themselves into a Lindback Society which supported efforts to improve teaching and hosted an annual reception for Lindback Award winners after the actual presentation of the awards at Hey Day Ceremonies. Currently, the Provost presents Lindback Awards at a reception in late April. The Lindback Society was revived in the late 1980s and sponsored, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, essays by faculty members on teaching that are published as “Talk About Teaching and Learning” in Almanac , the University’s journal of record.

    —Adapted From the University Archives and Records Center website,

    The Provost's Awards

    In October of 1987, the Office of the Provost announced the establishment of two additional Penn teaching awards—one in a Health School and one in a Non-Health School—to be given annually in recognition of distinguished teaching by associated faculty or academic support staff. The guidelines for the selection of the award recipients are the same as those given for the Lindback Awards, and the selection processes and deadlines are the same. The first recipients for the Provost’s Awards were Nora Magid of SAS and Paul Orsini of Veterinary Medicine (Almanac April 5, 1988).


    Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring

    Excellence in Ph.D. education is the hallmark of a great university. That excellence, depends upon the skill and commitment of faculty mentors. The Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring was established specifically to honor faculty who mentor Ph.D. students. This prize is intended to underscore the University’s strategic emphasis on graduate education, by celebrating the accomplishments of faculty who show special distinction in doctoral education.

    Michael B. Katz—School of Arts and Sciences

    Michael Katz

    Michael B. Katz is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History in the School of Arts and Sciences. He received his A.B, M.A.T. and Ed.D. from Harvard University and is a leading social historian and teaches graduate students in history, urban studies and many other social science fields. His graduate students in history have gone on to top research universities. His students describe Professor Katz as a “dream advisor,” one who is “brilliant, challenging, and endlessly supportive of my work.” One student credits the breadth of Professor Katz’s scholarship for providing an environment “full of rich interactions with faculty and students across departments and from other institutions.” Another, echoing a common theme, is thankful for the way he keeps his student’s attuned to “how their research and teaching can have a broader social impact.” One colleague describes Professor Katz’s unusual (for history), but highly successful practices in his graduate seminars of asking students to collaborate on research projects and to comment on his own work.

    Mitchell P. Marcus—SEAS

    Michael Katz

    Mitchell P. Marcus is the RCA Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from MIT. He teaches graduate students in the area of natural language processing, several of whom have gone on to top research institutions and laboratories including MIT, Microsoft and Google. His graduate students credit Professor Marcus with giving his time and energy to their needs and of helping guide their decisions on how to focus their interests. One says that Professor Marcus “encourages curiosity about the contexts of computing” that lead to fruitful research topics. Another calls him a “midwife for ideas” because of the way he encourages and shapes the thinking of his students. A colleague states that through his teaching and mentoring, Professor Marcus has “played a singular role in establishing Penn as the leading source of new research talent in computational linguistics.”

    Almanac - April 17, 2007, Volume 53, No. 30