Bigelow, Hill and Loprete Win Clarence Day Awards
Publication Date: 5/4/2010
Drs. Gordon Bigelow, Terry Hill and Darlene Loprete are recipients of Rhodes’ highest faculty honors for outstanding teaching and research, presented April 30 at the annual Rhodes College Awards Convocation held on campus.
Bigelow, an associate professor in the Department of English, received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching. Hill, a professor in the Department of Biology, and Loprete, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Clarence Day Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research. The awards, first given in 1981, were established by Memphis businessman and Rhodes alumnus Clarence Day and are provided by the Day Foundation. Day died in October of 2009, and his memory was honored at the awards ceremony.
“Mr. Day was a life-long learner. He had many passions, including a deep appreciation for art and a love of history, which connected him closely to Rhodes and its mission,” said Dr. Michael R. Drompp, Dean of the Faculty, in presenting the awards. “He understood the work of the faculty in its many facets, and was, I know, very pleased by the faculty accomplishments that are celebrated through the granting of the Day Awards.”
Also at the Rhodes Awards Convocation, departmental and service awards were presented to outstanding students and special fellowship and internship award winners were acknowledged.
The Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching is given to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the previous three years as determined by the assessments of students and colleagues, the effective use of imaginative and creative pedagogy, and motivating students to embrace a life of continuing study.
Since joining Rhodes in 1998 after completing a doctorate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Bigelow has established and maintained a reputation for classroom excellence.
“Teaching a range of courses from first-year writing to surveys of Victorian literature and sections of the senior seminar, Professor Bigelow places the discipline of critical inquiry, the craft of writing, and the development of independent thinking at the heart of his pedagogy,” said Drompp. “The results of his ongoing commitment to student development are evident in the honors and senior essays he has supervised, in students who have gone on to graduate study due to his guidance, and in an invitation to teach a graduate seminar at Vanderbilt University.”
A refrain repeated in student letters was that study with Bigelow is transformative. One student commented, “My most significant growth as a student came in Professor Bigelow’s senior seminar. I really think that class has made all the difference in pushing me from an undergraduate scholar to a graduate student.” Another declared that through Professor Bigelow her eyes were opened to “the complexities and beauty of English literature.” A third added that Professor Bigelow works tirelessly to help students “exceed their own expectations.” The same student wrote, “He is an engaging and passionate teacher, a committed advisor, a friend, and in my opinion the perfect candidate for the Day Award for Outstanding Teaching.”
The Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity is presented to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated that research and/or creative activity is an integral part of his or her vocation and who has published or performed outstanding works over the previous three years that have gained scholarly recognition or critical acclaim. This is the first year co-recipients have been named.
The research of Hill and Loprete focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for the growth and development of cell walls in fungi. Their research is vital for discovering new ways to use, control or inhibit fungal growth that impacts health, medicine and the economy.
“The collaboration between Professors Loprete and Hill merits recognition in multiple ways,” said Drompp. “One of the most impressive lies in the nature and amount of external funding they have received to support their research. Professors Hill and Loprete have been awarded four major external grants, including two National Science Foundation grants that total in excess of a million dollars.”
In addition, they have authored/co-authored eight peer-reviewed publications in leading journals and further disseminated their findings each year at national and international research conferences, for a total of 18 presentations spanning eight years. Their students also have been co-authors on their publications and presenters of the research at professional conferences.
“Another valuable aspect of the Loprete/Hill collaboration is that every summer they recruit and fund at least two students from historically Black colleges and universities to work with them in the lab,” added Drompp. “By providing these opportunities, the Hill/Loprete research team is making an important social and educational impact of the type advocated by Mr. Day.”