Published: April 5, 2017
2017 BFA Excellence Awards

The annual Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) Excellence Awards took place yesterday, April 4, at the University Memorial Center, recognizing faculty members for outstanding work and concerted effort in advancing the mission of the university and the academy at large.

The Excellence Awards are given in three categories. Excellence in Teaching and Pedagogy recognizes the importance of teaching and mentoring students as signicant components of faculty duties; the Excellence in Leadership and Service recognizes the importance of leadership and service as indispensable features of faculty responsibilities; and the Excellence in Research, Scholarly, and Creative Work recognizes the importance of research, scholarly, and creative work as integral parts of faculty achievements.

Being awarded a BFA Excellence Award truly is a noteworthy accomplishment. The 2017 awardees are as follows.

Excellence in Leadership and Service Award

Professor Kirk AmbroseKirk Ambrose, Chair of the Department of Art and Art History
In addition to chairing his department, Professor Kirk Ambrose's professional service includes serving as editor-in-chief of the journal of record for art history in the United States, The Art Bulletin, as well as editorial positions with four other academic journals. His current projects include a study on the history of impaired sight and the invention of spectacles.

One colleague reports, ". . . Dr. Ambrose’s service record at all levels has been nothing short of extraordinary. His time commitment to the discipline, the university, and our department has gone far beyond any job description or expectations."

Professor Virginia AndersonVirginia Anderson, Professor of History
Professor Virginia Anderson has taught early American history at the University of Colorado Boulder since 1985. Her many service accomplishments include Program Review (now Academic Review and Planning, abbreviated ARPAC) and the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, two of the most demanding and important campus-level committees.

However, as noted by one colleague, the quality of her contributions is more significant than their great quantity. She "consistently leads with the authority that comes from doing the right thing, making hard decisions when needed, and always acting for the collective good."

Professor Brian CatlosBrian Catlos, Professor of Religious Studies
Professor Brian Catlos studies Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations and ethno-religious identity in medieval Europe and the Islamic world, as well as the history of the pre-modern Mediterranean. He established the CU Mediterranean Studies Group, a departmentally "crowd-funded" interdisciplinary initiative that has enriched research and education at CU and enhanced the university’s reputation in the humanities.

One colleague notes: "Tireless and resourceful, Professor Catlos manages to bring together CU faculty who otherwise would not find ways to effectively interact."

Professor Cora RandallCora Randall, Chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
In addition to chairing her department, Professor Cora Randall is a faculty member of CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Her main area of expertise is remote sensing of the earth’s middle atmosphere, with particular emphasis on the polar regions. Randall is a current or prior member of numerous international satellite science teams and has won a number of awards in recognition of her scientific contributions.

In recent years, Randall co-lead efforts to revise the College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum. In the words of her co-leader on that project, she "always took the time to fully inform herself about each and every issue, considered a variety of perspectives and engaged with all stakeholders, and was transparent in her decision-making and her communications with others."

Excellence in Research and Creative Works Award

Professor Reiland RabakaReiland Rabaka, Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies
Professor Reiland Rabaka has faculty affiliations with the Department of Women & Gender Studies, the Humanities Program, the Graduate Program in Critical Theory, the School of Education, the College of Media Communication & Information and the College of Music. He is the author of more than 50 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as more than a dozen books.

His work is lauded by his colleagues as groundbreaking and intersectional, involving race, class, gender and sexuality. One colleague writes: "In Dr. Rabaka, one finds a professor who is as intellectually curious as he is rigorous in thought, researching, writing and service. He represents a consummate Africana studies scholar whose impressive language skills, alone, are indicative of the scope of his training and expertise."

Professor Graeme ForbesGraeme Forbes, Professor of Philosophy
Professor Graeme Forbes came to CU Boulder in 2006. Previously, he had taught at two campuses of the University of California and at Tulane University in New Orleans. The Philosophy Department’s former chair reports that "To this day, I regard [hiring him] as one of my main contributions to the Philosophy Department." 

Forbes' colleagues at home, nationally and overseas praise his work highly. He is widely regarded as one of the most important analytic philosophers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries; his work in philosophy is unusual in its breadth, ranging over issues in metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophical logic, metaphysics and philosophy of science.

Professor Michelle EllsworthMichelle Ellsworth, Professor of Theatre and Dance
Professor Michelle Ellsworth is a dancer, choreographer and multi-disciplinary solo artist with an international reputation. She has received numerous honors and, in the last five years, has created four evening-length performance works, three new web apps, five smaller video-performance works, as well as touring her 2011 work Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome around the U.S. and Europe.

Ellsworth’s work is collaborative, innovative, challenging and inspiring. Her colleagues at ATLAS note she incorporates collage, digital projection and audience-interactive web applications "in ways that are not merely technical tricks but also substantively contribute to the meaning of the work."

Her nomination letters call her "an artist of continuing expansion," a "creative genius," the "perfect artistic envoy," "fearless," "inclusive" and "an intrepid thinker and maker."

Excellence in Pedagogy and Teaching Award

Paul StromPaul Strom, Honors Residential Academic Program (RAP) Faculty
Paul Strom has taught at CU for 18 years, including courses on ambition of ethics, ethics of social action, civil rights and democracy. He was scholar-in-residence at the Honors RAP from 2011 to 2015, living among the students. He often hosts café nights in his residence-hall apartment, inviting groups of students to attend for lectures and discussion, while enjoying dessert.

In addition to his mentoring and community-building in the RAP, students praise his discussion-based teaching. One student stated, "Dr. Strom’s fascinating discussions have inspired heated and enriching social discourse . . . among my peers and me, [causing] us to consider what we’ve been taught beyond the classroom and [leaving] a lasting impression on the choices we now make."