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 Tuesday, December 14, 2004, IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


CU-Boulder Celebrates Carl Wieman, National Professor of the Year
By Allison Sylvest

When National Professor of the Year Carl Wieman spoke at the Dec. 6 campus celebration in his honor, he said he had something to reveal that might shock the audience: he isn't passionate about teaching.

Wieman said his real passion is for students learning. "Science can be comprehensible and predictable rather than mysterious and frightening," he said. "My goal is to get students to learn that."

He's doing a good job of it, having been named a 2004 National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Wieman was selected from among 307 top professors throughout the nation, nominated by four-year colleges and universities offering doctoral degrees. The award recognizes outstanding teaching, commitment to undergraduate students and influence on teaching. Rather than accepting the $5,000 award, Wieman donated it directly to the CU Foundation account he established with his Nobel Prize money to support improvements in science education.

Distinguished Professor Wieman, along with Senior Scientist Eric Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 for creating a new form of matter. He used his share of the prize money to create an interactive Web site, Physics2000, to help non-science majors understand physics. Wieman also developed courses on the "Physics of Everyday Life" for non-science students, and it was one of his former students, philosophy major Sarah Wheeler, who nominated him for the Carnegie award.

Many supporters from across campus gathered in the Glenn Miller Ballroom to celebrate Wieman's latest honor. Among those in attendance were Regents Cindy Carlisle and Pete Steinhauer, Regent Emeritus Bob Siever, and Celeste Landry, wife of Eric Cornell, and their children.

Chancellor Richard Byyny spoke at the reception, along with Professor and Chair of the Physics Department John Cumalat and CU President Elizabeth Hoffman.

In her remarks, Hoffman commented on Wieman's innovative use of clickers in his classroom. "I wish I had those in my classroom," said Hoffman, who once taught economics at CU-Boulder. "The immediate feedback is so beneficial.'

According to Mary Ann Shea, director of the CU-Boulder Faculty Teaching Excellence Program, Wieman's efforts to improve undergraduate teaching have influenced instruction at CU-Boulder, and are gaining national recognition as well.

In February 2004, Wieman was named a FTEP President's Teaching Scholar, designed to honor and reward faculty from all CU campuses who have excelled in teaching, scholarship and research. The scholars are chosen for their teaching skills and dedication to improving education universitywide.

The University of Colorado received additional recognition from the Carnegie Foundation and CASE: Robert von Dassanowsky of CU-Colorado Springs, an associate professor of languages and cultures/visual and performing arts, was named the 2004 Colorado Professor of the Year.

For more information on The Carnegie Foundation and CASE awards, visit the web site at For more information on the CU-Boulder Department of Physics and Carl Wieman, visit

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