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President's Professors

Arizona State University's President's Professors is a prestigious award. It is designed to reward enthusiasm and innovation in teaching, the ability to inspire original and creative work by students, mastery of subject matter and scholarly contributions. The first class of ASU President's Professors was from 2006. Please click on the years below to read about the accomplishments of these honorees.

2015

2015 President's Professors

Mark Henderson, 2016 President's Professor

Mark Henderson

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Henderson is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic campus, an associate dean at Barrett, the Honors College, and is the co-founder and director of GlobalResolve, a social entrepreneurship program with projects in water, sanitation, energy, agriculture, health and discipline. Students have gone to Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico and Nepal. “When you say, I’m from ASU and I’m here to help, it’s an emotional and social commitment,” Henderson says. While most of his students in his program are engineers, the approach fostered is interdisciplinary, considering politics, economy, language and culture.

Matthas Kawski, 2016 President's Professor

Matthias Kawski

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Kawski is an expert in differential geometry and control theory and the founder of Math Circles in which high schoolers work on challenging math problems with university mathematicians. He works with students who can’t get enough math in school or want to do math fun working with real data. His involvement in the community also includes outreach in the Navajo Nation, offering math campus and teaching training. He encourages students to stretch themselves and believes in “lots of motivation, lots of fun and the students asking the questions.”

Mary Bates Neubauer, 2016 President's Professor

Mary Bates Neubauer

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Neubauer is the head of sculpture in the Herberger College, a Fulbright Fellow and an expert in digital design. She encourages her students to get out into the world, to be open to professional opportunities and to travel. She takes students to Italy as part of the Digital Stone Project, a competitive program where students complete digital sketches of their sculptures, which programs robots to sculpt blocks of marble. She inspires drive, adventure and enterprise.

2014

2014 President's Professors

Bryan Brayboy

School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Educators are most successful when we work with students long enough to get them to do what we do — but better. Whether students pursue work around issues related to my particular areas of specialty is unimportant. What is important is ensuring students know how to ask questions, contextualize issues, and access relevant and reliable information in order to inform their opinions and professional and academic work. I teach students, at all levels, how to navigate the process of becoming an academic and professional. This means helping students understand how to ask meaningful questions, locate those questions within a larger body of literature or contemporary ideas, and find ways to answer their questions.

Kaye Reed

School of Human Evolution and Social Change, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

As an instructor, I feel that I’ve come a long way from that first class in 1997. Now there are 350 to 400 students sitting in front of me, viewing pictures and videos, discussing the concepts that I introduce in class, and watching me walk like a gibbon or an early ancestor. It seems that this latter activity makes me much more approachable, and students are emboldened to come and talk to me after class or in office hours. All of their senses are engaged if they let them.

2013

2013 President's Professors

Alexandra Brewis Slade

School of Human Evolution and Social Change

I like to focus on questions of why we want students to learn not just what we want them to learn, and consider the best ways to promote learning may not be the easiest, the most comfortable, or most obvious. I have worked very hard ever since to discover the myriad ways in which teaching best “works” and doesn’t, through working with my own mentors and then with students, keeping up with educational literature, staying in front of new technologies as much as possible, and rampant pedagogical experimentation. In all this, I always try to “think big.”

Ariel D. Anbar

School of Earth and Space Exploration
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Democratic societies require that the public make sound decisions on scientifically infused issues such as climate change and renewable energy. To do so, it is imperative to understand that science is not an encyclopedic collection of facts. Rather, science is the process by which we explore important question […] This status quo of disciplinary, “lecture-lab” courses does not meet the needs of society […] The online revolution in higher education has the potential to constructively disrupt this status quo […] Online education has vast untapped potential to enhance excellence as well as access

Ricardo Alarcon

Departent of Physics

The involvement of undergraduates in forefront research at their home institutions is considered a crucial part of student education particularly in the sciences. Students can gain important insights if they have access to faculty doing forefront research. They can get valuable training on a particular technique or problem, they can learn to work in research groups involving graduate students and senior scientists, and they can get an early read of whether to proceed further study in the sciences.

2012

2012 President's Professors

Jennifer Fewell

School of Life Sciences

“Mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in research is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of my career, because it gives me the opportunity to form a long-term connection with my students. Research mentoring is a critical part of undergraduate training; it is the best way for students to truly understand science as a process rather than a collection of concepts. I also benefit from it, because the enthusiasm of my students is infectious. I am continuously reminded that research and discovery is exciting business.”

Glenn H. Hurlbert

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

“As soon as students enjoy what they are doing they become ripe for learning. The best teacher in the world cannot force anyone to learn, but a willing learner can learn from anyone. It is, therefore, my first task to create willing learners. The challenge then is to create a safe environment for thinking, guessing and questioning in which students can speak freely without fear of ridicule.”

Ileana Alexandra Orlich

School of International Letters and Cultures

“My mission is to make certain that the ASU Romanian program, which has benefited so much from ASU's extraordinary vision of global engagement, empowers our students in an ever-changing world. At the end of the day, I wait to catch up with news from our students. Their world is my world and my enthusiasm is only a small measure of their rich and rewarding engagement with the challenges for which ASU, the New American University, prepares them.”

2011

2011 President's Professors

Brad Allenby

School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

“Several themes run through the entire set of courses (I have designed). Most broadly, leadership of any kind these days requires a deep understanding of technology systems, not as collections of physical artifacts, but as deeply cultural, social and institutional phenomena. The challenge is to develop courses that are able to open students up to the risks and opportunities of the world in front of them.”

Eric Kostelich

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

“My pedagogical interests are twofold: first, to implement compelling, 21st-century undergraduate programs in mathematics, and second, to create national models for undergraduate research programs that involve our best students in cutting-edge problems in atmospheric science, cancer modeling and prediction, medical imaging, and others. Additional funding from the National Science Foundation will expand our efforts to mentor outstanding mathematics students in the Maricopa County community colleges and facilitate their transfer to ASU.”

Manfred Laubichler

School of Life Sciences

“I motivate my students with Clarence Darrow's statement, 'To think is to differ,' and Lenin's recognition that 'Learning is never done without errors and defeat.' Though some of my classes are large, I see teaching mostly as a personal mentorship between student and teacher, with the roles often reversed. I am fortunate that I have encountered many wonderful groups of students, who make teaching at ASU a very gratifying experience.”

2010

2010 President's Professors

Leona S. Aiken

Department of Psychology

Professor Aiken is a leading scholar in quantitative psychology and health psychology, and has authored one of the most-used texts in the field of quantitative psychology. It is a hallmark of her career that her research and teaching are inseparably intertwined, as her students are also engaged in the work that has established Professor Aiken as a preeminent scholar who has defined and refined important fields of study that cut across critical psychological domains. She is dedicated to the objective that every student truly learn from their experience, whether it is in the classroom, the lab or in thesis research. As a consequence, students flock to her courses and vie for the opportunity to work in her research lab.

Richard Creath

School of Life Sciences

Professor Creath is an internationally recognized scholar and researcher in the philosophy of science. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the work of two of the 20th century’s most important philosophers, Rudolf Carnap and W. V. O. Quine. That work is central to the most important developments in logic, epistemology and philosophy of science during the last century. Professor Creath uses his 35 years of classroom experience to inspire students to explore new and differing values, opinions and ways of looking at the world. He teaches students to evaluate the many perspectives of people around them, to fashion new perspectives and to communicate that evaluation to others.

Amy L. Ostrom

W. P. Carey School of Business

Professor Ostrom is the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Professor in Services Leadership in the Department of Marketing. Her research focuses on helping organizations strengthen customer satisfaction and loyalty. She applies this same focus to her students. She builds personal relationships and her accessibility is legendary in the school. Professor Ostrom is a passionate teacher who pushes her students to achieve all they can. Students, in turn, are devoted to her. Ostrom’s teaching pedagogy is based on student engagement and experimentation. She sets rigorous expectations and inspires her students to exceed their own expectations. Professor Ostrom spends countless hours with students and has participated in more than 60 honors theses, supervising more than 35 of them.

2009

2009 President's Professors

James B. Adams

School of Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy

Professor Adams believes that a successful undergraduate experience is tied to instruction that reaches far beyond the classroom. He is a professor of materials and the chair of the materials program in the School of for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Professor Adams is an excellent teacher who has taught a wide variety of courses, created several courses, and created teaching materials with national impact. He is consistently assigned some of the most difficult/least popular courses to teach, and he consistently turns them into the most popular courses in the curriculum. He is extremely dedicated to undergraduate success, including recruiting, advising, research, and job placement.

Andrew T. Smith

School of Life Sciences

Professor Smith believes it is possible to change the world, and so do his undergraduate students. He is a professor of conservation biology, population biology and mammalogy in the School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has been the leader of the conservation biology program for over three decades and has successfully built the program based on his internationally recognized research, mentorship of graduate students, and through his dedicated support of undergraduate education. He worked to develop new courses, recruit new faculty and support staff to actively embrace undergraduate students and their goals. He has served as the Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Lagomorph Specialist Group and as an advisor to the Chinese government on issues concerning biodiversity. 

2008

2008 President's Professors

José E. Náñez Sr.

New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Professor Náñez embodies his own guiding notion that faculty members should provide an “education of the heart,” to help students love their work, to work diligently, to become life-long learners and to give back to the communities in which they live. Professor Náñez is a professor of psychology in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and executive director of community outreach at ASU. A cognitive neuroscientist, Professor Náñez pursues research in visual perception and neuronal organization. As executive director of community outreach, he also creates and implements new strategies to advance the university’s student outreach agenda, a role that draws on his many years successfully engaging students in his classes and presenting recruiting programs for Hispanic and first-generation students in the community.

Margaret C. Nelson

School of Human Evolution and Social Change and Global Institute of Sustainability

Professor Nelson actively engages in teaching and mentoring in every aspect of her career–as a scholar, instructor and administrator. She is involved, caring, responsive and innovative in her teaching, and she displays outstanding leadership in improving educational opportunities and instructional quality for students. Professor Nelson is vice dean of Barrett, the Honors College, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and an affiliated faculty member of the Global Institute of Sustainability. She successfully combines thorough field research and archaeological analysis with deep and encompassing theoretical insights and inspires those around her to produce innovative ideas and solutions to theoretical and substantive problems.

Max Underwood

The Design School

Professor Underwood has been a faculty member of the Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts for 23 years. Few faculty members in the discipline of architecture in the United States are as highly respected and recognized as Professor Underwood, an extraordinary achievement. The focus of his scholarship intertwines the art of teaching with the realities of professional practice. Professor Underwood’s design studios are consistently considered some of the most inspiring among undergraduate and graduate students. He transmits his scholarship and genuine enthusiasm to his students. His commitment to the art of teaching, the strategies of instruction, expands design, architecture and the environment. He is a teacher’s teacher.

2007

2007 President's Professors

Jess Alberts

Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Professor Alberts' goal as a teacher is to provoke her students to ask questions about the world around them. As a communications professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, her goal is to help them develop the skills to answer those questions. Alberts’ commitment to her students is evident not only in her frequent teaching of undergraduate courses, in addition to her graduate course load, but through her interactions with her students outside of the classroom. It is not unusual for students to go to her for coaching on job interviews and negotiations, as well as advice on solving conflicts.

Ted Humphrey*

Barrett, the Honors College

Professor Humphrey's studies concentrate on the philosophers, poets and revolutionaries of Latin America and nation-building in 19th century Latin America have earned him recognition for leadership and innovation in Barrett, The Honors College. His published scholarship includes numerous essays on problems of reason and will and space and time in classical modern philosophy, as well as Kant’s epistemology, late metaphysics, and moral and political theory. His translations of Kant’s Enlightenment writings have become standards in the field. Professor Humphrey chaired ASU's Philosophy Department from 1974-1983, and then directed ASU's Honors Program, guiding it to collegiate status, becoming the founding dean of Barrett, the Honors College in 1988, a position he held until 2003.

Jane Maienschein

School of Life Sciences

Professor Maienschein focuses on the history and philosophy of biology and its role in society. Maienschein’s commitment to her field is exhibited through her extensive research and experimental analysis with the study of people, institutions, and changing social, political, and legal contexts. Also honored as a Parents’ Professor, she brings an equally broad and challenging transdisciplinary approach to her teaching that is fully appreciated by her students. Founder and director of the Center for Biology and Society, Maienschein promotes education and research at the intersection of biological science and society. She is also a fellow of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and was chosen as the Arizona Professor of the Year, by CASE and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010.

2006

2006 President's Professors

Randy Cerveny

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Alice Christie*

Professor Emeritus

Ian Gould

School of Molecular Sciences

Paul Rothstein

The Design School

*emerita/emeritus