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Lindback and Provost's Awards: 2003 Winners

Lindback Awards--for members of the standing faculty--and Provost's Awards--given since 1988 to full- and part-time associated faculty and academic support staff--are as much a sign of spring at Penn as are al fresco classes on College Green and flowers and trees blooming all over campus.

Lindback Reception: April 24

The Lindback Society cordially
invites all members of the
University community
to attend a reception honoring
the recipients of the
Provost’s and
Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback
Awards for Distinguished Teaching

Thursday, April 24 from
4:30–6 p.m. in the
Hall of Flags, Houston Hall

In the Non-Health Schools In the Health Schools

In the Non-Health Schools

Dr. Carlos Alonso

Carlos Alonso

Dr. Carlos Alonso arrived at Penn in 2000 as the Edwin B. and Leonore R. Williams Professor of Romance Languages. In that short time, he has been instrumental in the redesign of the undergraduate curriculum. The course, Spanish 219 "Contexts of Hispanic Civilization," stands out as a major curricular innovation and Professor Alonso has been the main force behind the design and implementation of the course which is fast becoming a model for Spanish departments across the country. He is equally effective with graduate students as a colleague reports: "The depth of Carlos's commitment to graduate education is, in my mind, simply unparalleled." A graduate student notes: "Carlos has become nothing short of a hero to the graduate students in Romance Language." Students repeatedly remark on the help he gives graduate students in preparing for the job market, offering a seminar on the MLA convention and job interviewing, preparing mock interviews, and reading every writing sample." Another student describing Dr. Alonso's impact writes: "His vision of an intellectual collectivity based on dynamism and rigor is contagious and has created energy and excitement on the fifth floor of Williams Hall." A student concludes: "Carlos Alonso has been by far the greatest and most positive influence on my intellectual formation. He is deserving of this prestigious award."

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Dr. Alan Johnson

Dr. Alan T. Charlie Johnson received his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University and joined the faculty at Penn in 1994. He receives consistently high ratings in courses noted for their difficulty and rigor. He has a remarkable capacity to turn students on to physics. Students in his class apply themselves as a result of the sheer effort that Dr. Johnson gives to his classes each week. A student writes: "I am very fortunate to have had Professor Johnson as my first physics teacher at Penn, and even more so to have had him as a mentor for my very first research project--the pinnacle of my undergraduate career and the reason for my decision to pursue graduate school in physics." Another comments, "Dr. Johnson's enthusiasm has furthered my own passion for physics and science in general." A number of his students have gone on to graduate work at top universities and one wrote, "It was Charlie's support that helped me decide to pursue a graduate degree. My success in the admissions process was owed in no small part to his support but also to his guidance in everything from studying for GRE's to giving me a solid understanding of the physics." A colleague writes: "Charlie is an excellent ambassador for physics for students who might not have chosen physics as a course of study." An enthusiastic student summarizes: "You can't improve on Professor Johnson--he simply is the best."

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Dr. Vicky Mahaffey

Vicky Mahaffey

Dr. Vicky Mahaffey received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and joined the faculty at Penn in the English department in 1979. She is the recipient of the Al Filreis Award for Excellence in Departmental Teaching and the Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching. A faculty member writes: "Her colleagues all admire and some of us wish to emulate the deep connection she makes with both her undergraduate and graduate students." Numerous letters from former students attest to the lasting impact Dr. Mahaffey has had on those she has taught and mentored. One student wrote: "She was the best teacher I have ever had and my education has continued through medical school and residency training," while another notes: "How would I rate Professor Mahaffey's teaching? Excellent, perhaps great, I'm tempted to say perfect." Another notes, "Her class changed the way I look at the world. It has been a privilege to be in Dr. Mahaffey's class. The command of knowledge, sincerity, concern for students are all exceptional. I remember thinking on finishing her Modernism course that I had never been so emotionally or intellectually exhausted by a class in my life. Professor Mahaffey has unquestionably proven that her students and their education is her first priority. She is the epitome of teaching excellence."

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Dr. Liliane Weissberg

Liliane Weissberg

Dr. Liliane Weissberg joined the faculty of German and Comparative Literature in 1989. Since that time "Professor Weissberg has distinguished herself as an inspired and inspiring teacher, as a pedagogical model, as a brilliant researcher and as a warm and generous friend." Her classes are "a sheer intellectual treat," "one of the most engaging professors I've had in four years at Penn." "Don't let the fact that this course is taught in German scare you away--it is the most fun I've had at Penn." "Dr. Weissberg is my academic role model." Both students and colleagues remark on Dr. Weissberg's energy and enthusiasm, her wide range of interests and her dedication to students and her vitality both in and outside the classroom. "In giving Professor Weissberg this honor the University will acknowledge the work of those exceptional individuals who view being a professor as a multifaceted endeavor where community and scholarly activity are inextricably linked and crucial to the University as a whole." A faculty colleague remarks: "Her dedication to all students whether freshmen, students in a pilot curriculum course, German majors, or graduate students, regardless of department is total." "Dr. Weissberg is animated, exciting and brilliant; her class is a one-of-a-kind opportunity at Penn. I know of no other person as deserving of this Award."

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Provost's Award

David Eisenhower

David Eisenhower

David Eisenhower is a senior Fellow and heads the Institute for Public Service of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Letters repeatedly mentioned Professor Eisenhower's availability to students remarking: "Professor Eisenhower is the most accessible Professor I have ever had at Penn" and "He spends practically forty hours a week in office hours." A student wrote: "Each class with Professor Eisenhower was a true learning experience. I found myself transformed into a world of living history." Another notes "I have never learned so much from one person nor had my interest piqued in the way Professor Eisenhower did." "His office door is always open for discussion of the course material, history and current events." Another student writes: "How many professors drive all night to meet their students at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Rhinebeck, New York in order to offer his personal insight on a particular primary source for a research paper?" An Annenberg School colleague observes, "David is an outstanding teacher--caring, unselfish, and unconditionally attentive." Commenting on his lasting influence a student writes: "I would like to follow in the footsteps of a distinguished teacher like David Eisenhower."

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In the Health Schools

Dr. Kenneth Drobatz

Kenneth Drobatz

Dr. Kenneth Drobatz joined the faculty of the Veterinary School in 1991. He won the Resident's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1996, 1999, and 2001, as well as The Norden Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002. He has consistently received the highest scores on course evaluations with one student writing that Dr. Drobatz's class is outstanding despite being on Friday afternoon. Colleagues were equally enthusiastic about Dr. Drobatz's teaching noting "Ken's strength is that he regularly inspires his students; he gets his students to think logically and calmly about critical care. The enrollment for the elective courses he teaches is always close to 100% of the class--students want to be taught by him." "It is to his credit that all of our residents have passed the specialty-certifying exam, no small feat, as the pass rate is only 50-70%." A former student writes: "Dr. Drobatz is one of the best clinical instructors I have ever had. Over the past five years I have seen him head the emergency service, head the residency program, head the intern program and find the time to receive a master's degree in statistics." Through his example he challenges his students to go one step further. He is indeed an outstanding candidate for the Lindback Award.

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Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz

J. Sanford Schwartz

Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and joined the Department of Medicine in 1975. A colleague describes him as one of the most outstanding, dedicated, creative, enthusiastic, and sought after educators in the School of Medicine and the medical center. He has already been awarded the Excellence in Teaching and the Outstanding Teacher Award from the School of Medicine. Students wrote consistently about his role as mentor noting "he influenced me to pursue a career in academic medicine," and " Dr. Schwartz is the best teacher and mentor that I have encountered in my educational career." Some of his students reported that Dr. Schwartz has changed their careers, others that he has changed their lives. "When Sandy is your mentor you become part of his extended family." One of his important roles as mentor is in helping students to discover their true passions. "That he devotes so much time and effort to teaching, mentoring and career development at the University of Pennsylvania, the School of Medicine and the Penn Health System and that he does so in such an outstanding fashion reflects Sandy's fundamental commitment to education." He is clearly someone who loves medicine and who loves teaching.

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Dr. Donald Siegel

Donald Siegel

Dr. Donald Siegel received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Berwick Resident Award, the Peter C. Nowell Department Teaching Award and the School of Medicine's Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award. As a teacher Dr. Siegel links science to medicine and medicine to real life. "With the unique perspective of someone well trained both in basic science and in the practice of medicine, Don is a rare talent in the classroom and in the laboratory and clinic." "Don is an outstanding and evocative teacher. He is incredibly dynamic. His Path 305 course consistently receives the top ratings among all elective courses and students rave that "his organization is impeccable, his delivery engaging, his meshing of the basic and clinical sciences seamless, and his enthusiasm contagious." Several former students mention that they have chosen to specialize in the field of Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine because of the influence of Dr. Siegel. A former student concludes: "Dr. Siegel proved to be an exceptional lecturer; he entertained us, amused us, forced us to think and ‘allowed' us to understand the material. He is truly a gifted teacher."

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Dr. Nancy Tkacs

Nancy Tkacs

Dr. Nancy Tkacs received her BSN and MSN from Penn's School of Nursing and her Ph.D. from Loyola University in Chicago. A colleague writes of Dr. Tkacs: "she has the wonderful advantage of being both a nurse and a research scientist; she has the incredible ability to teach complex content to a group of students with varying science backgrounds and of different disciplines. She has been a valued teacher to many medical and bioengineering students." Dr. Tkacs often has student workers involved in her laboratory projects and has influenced the careers of several nursing doctoral students. Students wrote again and again about her role as a mentor, noting "I would not have made it through the Ph.D. program without her," "she is a mentor who leads by example. I can only say that I was extremely fortunate to have such a role model guiding my career." A colleague reports: "Nancy arranged web based chat rooms and bulletin boards, responded promptly to e-mail inquiries, scheduled study group sessions, and, as always, left her office and lab doors open for impromptu discussions." Another notes, "Dr. Tkacs is not only an excellent educator, but her research has greatly enhanced the teaching of her colleagues. As a pediatric faculty member and an endocrine nurse practitioner, her research on hypoglycemia has greatly informed my practice; I wholeheartedly endorse her for the Lindback."

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Provost's Award

Dr. Lucy Rorke

Lucy Rorke

Dr. Lucy Rorke came to Penn from the University of Minnesota where she earned her medical degree and has been a member of the Penn family since l958. "Dr. Rorke is a demanding educator who is passionate about her discipline." She is a member of numerous national medical societies and has been on the editorial board of six medical journals.One former student commented, "It is 23 years since I worked with Dr. Rorke in Philadelphia and my recollections of her teaching are still clear today." As a pediatric pathologist she is internationally known and has taught many if not most of the pediatric neuropathologists in this country and abroad. Many letters describe her teaching as distinguished. "Dr. Rorke communicated a depth of intellectual commitment to Neuropathology that was both stunning and infectious. I caught her enthusiasm and it quite literally changed my life." A former student concludes: "Throughout my training at the University of Pennsylvania, from my years as an undergraduate through Residency and Fellowship, my life has been enriched by any number of wonderful teachers, I state without qualification that among those truly outstanding professors, Dr. Lucy Rorke stands at the head of the class."

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Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Awards at the University of Pennsylvania: Awarded for Distinguished Teaching

The Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania were established in 1961 with the help of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. Christian Lindback was President and principal owner of Abbotts Dairies Inc. and a Trustee of Bucknell University. The Foundation established Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at colleges and universities throughout Abbotts Dairies Inc.'s service area in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.

The University of Pennsylvania normally gives out eight Lindback awards each year, divided evenly between health-related disciplines and all other departments and divisions. Award winners are determined by nominations and recommendations made by faculty and students in December based on certain guidelines. Two separate committees, one in the Health Schools and one in the Non-Health Schools consisting of six previous award winners and four students, carefully decide among the nominees. Winners receive a Lindback Foundation scroll and a cash award of $3,000. During the 1960s, Lindback awards were presented at Commencement.

During the 1970s, previous winners of the Lindback Award organized themselves into a Lindback Society, which supported efforts to improve teaching and hosted an annual reception for Lindback Award winners after the actual presentation of the awards at Hey Day (May 1) Ceremonies. Currently, the Provost presents Lindback awards at a reception in late April. The Lindback Society was revived in the late 1980s and sponsored, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, essays by faculty members on teaching that were published as "Talk About Teaching" in Almanac, the University's journal of record.

-- Adapted From the
University Archives and Records Center website,

In October of 1987, the Office of the Provost announced the establishment of two additional Penn teaching awards--one in a Health School and one in a Non-Health School--to be given annually in recognition of distinguished teaching by associated faculty or academic support staff. The Guidelines for the selection of award recipients are the same as those given for the Lindback Awards, and the selection processes and deadlines are the same. The first recipients of the Provost's Awards were Nora Magid of SAS and Paul Orsini of Veterinary Medicine (Almanac April 5, 1988).

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 30, April 22, 2003