Convocation honors accomplishments of our faculty

September 27, 2012

REMARKS BY CHANCELLOR DISTEFANO

Welcome to the seventh annual fall convocation. I am pleased to join my fellow faculty to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding faculty.

I want to extend a special welcome to the parents and family members here among us, who have come to CU for Family Weekend. We are glad that you are here so you can help us honor the accomplishments of our world-class faculty. Today we gather to honor faculty receiving tenure and promotion, and for the presentation of faculty and student achievement awards.

All our faculty members play a central role in maintaining the excellent national reputation of the university and in mentoring our students to new heights of learning and discovery.

Flagship 2030, our vision for the next quarter century, has at its heart, the goal to attract, develop, and retain top faculty.

During our new faculty orientation in August we welcomed new faculty members to the university. We had excellent reasons for choosing each, and we are glad they chose us. We salute their expertise, fresh perspectives, and boundless energy.

They are joining an elite group of faculty. For example, in August four young faculty received Presidential Early-Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, a number second only to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Cindy Regal, Physics
  • Erin Furtak, Education
  • David Noone, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Rebecca Washenfelder, CIRES

This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers.

This year alone, a dozen young faculty have won early-career fellowships from the likes of the White House, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Defense Department. Our numbers of young faculty winning these prestigious awards frequently outpace some of the world’s most renowned universities, establishing CU-Boulder as a top generator of world-class scientists.

On Oct. 18 we will honor music professor Patrick Mason as the 2012 recipient of the Hazel Barnes Prize.The prize is the highest faculty recognition for teaching and research awarded by the university.

Noah Finkelstein (physics) and Harihar Rajaram (engineering) were named President’s Teaching Scholars by President Benson in March. This is a lifetime appointment for skillfully integrating teaching and research at a high level throughout their careers. It’s the university system’s highest recognition of excellence and commitment to learning, teaching and scholarly work.

What does that mean for students? It means they are at ground zero in new discoveries and interacting with teachers and researchers who are transforming science, innovation, technology and the arts on a daily basis.

Our reputation for high-quality scholarship is strong, as evidenced by the numerous prestigious awards our faculty has received over the years for new discoveries, interdisciplinary projects, innovative technologies and the many, many published books, articles, and other creative works.

Faculty here today are representative of a larger body of outstanding faculty that includes:

  • Four Nobel laureates
  • Seven MacArthur fellows
  • 10 Packard fellows
  • 16 Guggenheim fellows
  • Four recipients of the National Medal of Science
  • 60 members of prestigious national academies
  • Two members of the American Council of Learned Societies
  • And 40 distinguished professors.

Indeed, we have much to take pride in.

Today it is also our privilege to honor some of our best and brightest students; who are the intellectual and creative leaders of tomorrow. When they graduate, the university seal will be stamped on their CU diplomas. On the seal is a depiction of a torch and a Greek inscription that reads, “let your light shine.” These students are not only letting their light shine, they are leading the way, and it is a pleasure to honor them.

These students are the beneficiaries of our faculty, who are responsible for our robust teaching and research mission.

You guide our students to life-changing discoveries in literature, music, the arts, humanities and sciences.

You breathe life into the power of collaboration in laboratories and classrooms.

You determine your university’s standing as a place of nationally respected scholarship, teaching, and research.

You educate, inspire and challenge your students, and they expect no less of you. These students are society’s greatest asset and you are their mentors.

I cannot think of a job more important. Congratulations to each of you! And thank you for your service.

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