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Home > People > Awards and appointments, December 2007

Awards and appointments, December 2007

By Gayla Marty

Regents Professor Emeritus of Economics Leo Hurwicz received the Nobel Prize Dec. 10. See Dec. 10, below.

Dec. 17

The next dean of the Law School will be David Wippman, one of the world's leading scholars in international law and human rights. Wippman is currently vice provost for international relations and professor of law at Cornell University; he will join the University July 1. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., 1983-92; joined the faculty at Cornell in 1992, and directed the Office of Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs of the National Security Council, 1998-99. Wippman is a native of Minnesota and holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and master's and J.D. degrees from Yale University. Professors Guy Charles and Fred Morrison will continue to serve as interim co-deans until Wippman's arrival. Read more.

Kay Husbands Fealing, the William Brough Professor of Economics at William College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, will join the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs as a visiting professor in economics and trade policy Jan. 10. She will teach and conduct research primarily in the institute's science, technology, and public policy area. Her research draws on previous work with the National Science Foundation, where she helped to assess the impact of global science and engineering expertise and national and international science policies. Read the announcement.

Dec. 12

Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Ted Davis has been named director of the BioTechnology Institute (BTI), a joint effort of the College of Biological Sciences and the Institute of Technology (IT). Davis has been a member of the University faculty since 1963 and served as dean of IT from 1995 to 2004, when he returned to the faculty. In his new role, beginning Jan. 7, he will lead efforts to boost interdisciplinary research for new and innovative sources of renewable energy. See the news release.

The director of the new Institute for Health Informatics in the Academic Health Center is Julie Jacko, formerly professor of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University School of Medicine. At the University of Minnesota, Jacko also holds appointments in the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health. Her research spans the fields of human-computer interaction, health informatics, technological aspects of health care delivery, and universal access to electronic information technologies. The new institute is an interdisciplinary program to improve the quality and efficiency of health care and clinical research through research and education in health informatics. See the news release.

Silvia Àlvarez
Graduate student Silvia Àlvarez is the 2007 recipient of the University's Women of Color Tapestry Award. Photo courtesy of UWOC.

A graduate student from Guatemala, Silvia Álvarez (right), is the 2007 recipient of the University's Women of Color Tapestry Award. The annual award is granted to individuals who help create a thriving campus community where diversity is welcomed and supported. Álvarez, who moved to Minnesota with her husband and three children three years ago to pursue a master's degree in educational policy and administration at the Twin Cities campus, is credited with promoting Latino culture and Spanish language by creating a bilingual radio show on RadioK, the student-run radio station. See the news release.

Dec. 11

Earl Bakken, seated, shakes hands with Deborah Powell while President Bruininks applauds.
Inventor Earl Bakken, left, was honored by Medical School dean Deborah Powell, right, and President Bruininks during a recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the pacemaker at Medtronic. Photo courtesy of Medtronic.

U alumnus Earl Bakken (seated in photo, left), inventor of the battery-powered, wearable cardiac pacemaker and cofounder of Medtronic, will receive the Medical School's first honorary doctorate in its 120-year history Dec. 13. Dean Deborah Powell will present the award during a daylong symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the pacemaker's invention. Bakken grew up in Columbia Heights, received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1948, helped to start Medtronic in a garage in 1949, and worked with the U to invent the pacemaker in 1957. He now resides in Hawaii and continues to advocate for advances in health care. See the news release and read more in "Earl Bakken: The man who created an industry."

Professor of kinesiology Maureen Weiss has been named 2008 chair of the Science Board of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The board was founded in 2003 to ensure that messages and programs of the council are scientifically sound; its activities include review and input on the renowned President's Challenge program. Weiss codirects the Tucker Center for Research on Women in Sport. Her research focuses on the psychological and social development of children and youth through sports and physical activity. See the news release and her faculty bio.

The Board of Regents will recognize McKnight Presidential Chair of Medicinal Chemistry Gunda Georg and McKnight Presidential Professors Robert Hecky, biological limnology at UMD, and David Wilkins, American Indian studies at the Twin Cities campus, Dec. 14. McKnight Presidential Awards recognize distinguished faculty across all disciplines and help the University recruit and retain top scholars who bring particular distinction to the institution. The three will be honored during the monthly regents meeting at 9 a.m., McNamara Alumni Center. Read more about Georg, who joined the U this year, and see faculty bios for Hecky and Wilkins.

U alumnus and Department of Athletics staff member John Wendt, who has served as an announcer for the swimming and diving program for 35 years, has been inducted into the U of M Aquatics Hall of Fame. Wendt earned a B.A. in humanities and an M.A. in American studies from the U and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. He's a member of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, the American Arbitration Association, and the USOC Special Panel for Doping in Sport.

Dec. 10

Regents Professor Emeritus of Economics Leonid Hurwicz (top photo) received the Nobel Prize in Economics today at a ceremony in Minneapolis held during a simulcast ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. President Bruininks, Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström, and Leonid's son Maxim Hurwicz all spoke at the event at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the Twin Cities campus. See the news release, with links to video.

The 2007-08 UMD Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Research recipient is Matt Andrews, professor and head, Department of Biology, Duluth campus. He was honored at an award ceremony and then presented a seminar on his current research, "What We Have Learned From Hibernating Mammals." See more information and his faculty bio.

Robert McMaster.
Geography professorRobert McMaster has been named vice provost and dean for undergraduate education at the Twin Cities campus. Photo courtesy of the Department of Geography.

Dec. 3

Geography professor Robert McMaster (right) has been named vice provost and dean for undergraduate education, Twin Cities campus, pending approval by the regents Dec. 14. McMaster joined the faculty in 1990, also serves on the faculty of the conservation biology program, and has been associate dean for planning in the College of Liberal Arts. He received his doctorate in geography and meteorology from the University of Kansas in 1983 and previously held academic positions at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Syracuse University. He is president-elect of the University Consortium for geographic information science (GIS). McMaster's appointment will begin Jan. 1; he will succeed Craig Swan, who retires this month. Read more in the news release, Undergraduate Education, and McMaster's faculty bio.

The Academic Health Center announced last week the newly endowed John S. Najarian Chair in Clinical Transplantation, named for surgeon and educator John Najarian, who led the department of surgery at the Medical School for 25 years, ending in 1995, and established the program as a world leader in transplantation. An endowed chair is the highest honor to recognize prominent faculty for contributions to their field. This chair will enable the Department of Surgery to support the research and clinical pursuits of a full-time faculty member in transplantation. Najarian's colleagues, friends, and patients committed more than $1.5 million through the Minnesota Medical Foundation, and the University provided $500,000 in matching funds to establish the chair. Read the news release.

Allen Isaacman, John Cogan, and Vernon Weckwerth.
Award for Global Engagement Award recipients (left to right) Allen Isaacman, John Cogan, and Vernon Weckwerth were honored Nov. 27.

Three recipients of the 2007 Award for Global Engagement recipients--Twin Cities campus professors Allen Isaacman , College of Liberal Arts; John Cogan , College of Education and Human Development; and Vernon Weckwerth , School of Public Health--were honored in a ceremony Nov. 27 (left photo). The award, presented by senior vice president for system academic administration Robert Jones, honors active or retired faculty and staff members for outstanding contributions to global education and international programs in their field or to the University. More than 125 friends, family, and colleagues attended the ceremony and reception held in the atrium of the Andersen Library on the Twin Cities campus. Each recipient received a cash prize, certificate, and award sculpture designed by University art professor Thomas Rose. A selection committee headed by School of Nursing dean Connie Delaney reviewed this year's nominations and chose the winners.

The School of Nursing, through the Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership, has selected six 2007 Densford Clinical Scholars: Anne Garwick, Joseph Gaugler, Helen Hansen, Susan O'Conner-Von, Mary Rowan, and Lyn Ceronsky. Each faculty member will work in partnership with an advanced practice nurse in clinical facilities to identify and solve a clinical problem. Read the news release.

The Medical School has selected pediatric nephrologist Aaron Friedman as new head of the Department of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Fairview. He will join the University March 17 from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Rhode Island, where he has served as head of the Department of Pediatrics and medical director for Hasbro Children's Hospital. Friedman previously headed the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was part of a team that successfully sought funding for a new children's hospital. Read the news release.

Two U of M-Crookston early childhood educators--Gina Gunderson and Lea Oseth--were presented with the Early Childhood Champion Awards by the Crookston Early Childhood Initiative in late November. Gunderson and Oseth, who staff the UMC Children's Center, were recognized for their outstanding leadership, support and services in early childhood education. The initiative is a collaboration of more than 20 community leaders, professionals, and parents in partnership with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. See the news release.

Awards, appointments, and other items of note about faculty, staff, and outstanding students and alumni of the University of Minnesota campuses are published here as reported and summarized in Brief, the internal news digest of the U. Submit items for this page to

See also the Scholars Walk and U Awards & Honors.