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Lindback and Provost's Awards:
Sketches of the 2004 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. Below are excerpts from students' letters of recommendation.  

Lindback Reception: April 22

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

Thursday, April 22
4:30-6 p.m.
Hall of Flags
Houston Hall


Non-Health Schools
  • John Keene
  • David Skeel
  • Peter Struck
  • Santosh Venkatesh
  • Provost's Award: Edward Crotty
  • Health Schools
  • Deborah Driscoll
  • Kenneth Ginsburg
  • Brian Strom
  • Corinne Sweeney
  • Provost's Award: Deborah Becker
  • Non-Health Schools

    John Keene

    J. Keene

    Professor John Keene joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He currently chairs the Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning. While letters of praise from colleagues were noteworthy, the letters from students are truly impressive. A former student writes: "Of the numerous Penn professors who left an indelible mark on my undergraduate experience, Professor Keene is most certainly the leader," while another states: "A good teacher is remembered long after the class has ended. These words best describe Professor Keene.  Professor Keene has had an immeasurable impact on my personal and professional life." Students consistently reported that Professor Keene's classes were rigorous, and demanding, and intellectually challenging, describing his lectures as "elegant." A former student, now an urban planner, writes: "The impact of his scholarship goes beyond the four walls of the classroom. Many of my colleagues in international development continue to refer to his work for guidance." And finally a student concludes: "Even at an institution as fine as the University of Pennsylvania, where the quality of teaching and the academic experiences are as high as they can be, Professor Keene stands out. No other professor in my entire academic career has held me to standards as high as those to which Professor Keene held me."

    David Skeel

    D. Skeel

    Professor David Skeel came to the University of Pennsylvania  in 1997 as a visiting professor and joined the faculty of the Law School in 1999. Professor Skeel is already the recipient of the Harvey Levin Award for Excellence in Teaching twice, in 1999 and 2002. Both students and colleagues agree that Professor Skeel has been a real asset to the Law School and a preeminently successful professor at Penn Law. His influence extends to the public realm, with his appearances on National Public Radio, Nightline, CNBC and numerous other programs attesting to the reach of his insights and commentary. In addition to being an expert in the fields of bankruptcy and corporate law, he is a published poet and has taught seminars in law and literature which students have characterized as "inspiring" and "transformative." Several mentioned how he used a staging of Twelve Angry Men in his seminar to explore issues of morality in legal decision-making. At the end of one semester students composed a song about Professor Skeel and the course. With guitar accompaniment, they sang it to great applause, expressing the class's admiration for him. Professor Skeel was instrumental in building bridges between the faculty and student body in an effort to create a real community of learning at the Law School.

    Peter Struck

    P. Struck

    Dr. Peter Struck received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in the department of Classical studies in 1999.

    He has pioneered in using new technology to teach classics, which a colleague describes as "the most impressive use of technology in teaching that I know of." The students agree noting:   "The on-line unit, in combination with lectures and readings, made for an excellent learning environment."  Students repeatedly refer to him as "awesome." Another student writes: "Professor Struck possesses a unique ability to captivate his audience while delivering challenging lectures.  He even sang If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof as the best way to demonstrate the present contra-factual conditional.  And there was dancing involved." A colleague who was sitting in on Professor Struck's course describes the class as "perfectly brilliant." "Peter Struck is a wonderful advocate for both the classics department at Penn and for scholars in general because he strives for excellence in his own work and in that of his students. Professor Struck is "one of the professors you remember years later as one who was challenging but fair, charismatic, enthusiastic about his subject.  He deserves all the applause we can give him."  He is a stellar teacher and truly deserving of the Lindback Award.

    Santosh Venkatesh

    S. Venkatesh

    Dr. Santosh Venkatesh received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and joined the faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1986. Letters from colleagues were effusive in their praise noting that, "Professor Venkatesh is one of the teaching gems in the department," and describing him as a "brilliant and dedicated teacher." He presided over the creation of a new undergraduate degree in Computer and Telecommunication Engineering and introduced the professional ethics seminar now required of students in electrical engineering. Students describe him coming to class with only a set of colored chalk and no notes at all. "This small detail of his instructional style, which involves using many different colors of chalk to illuminate blackboard writings reflects his larger approach to teaching: always make the extra effort to help students learn." Another student writes:  "There are many superb professors at Penn but no one I encountered pulled all the various aspects of teaching from expertly pacing classes to being remarkably available to students together as flawlessly as Dr. Venkatesh. His passion for teaching emerges during every lecture.  Professor Venkatesh delivered the clearest and most organized lectures that I have ever attended. He is a visionary; his spirit makes me believe that in this world anything is possible."

    Provost's Award

    Edward Crotty

    E. Crotty

    Dr. Edward Crotty was the head of the mathematics department at University City High School. After his retirement from the school district, he came to Penn to serve as assistant to the mathematics department's undergraduate chair.  As assistant to the chair, he has helped improve various departmental resources for calculus students. He currently serves as associate director of the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics. He has won the Departmental Good Teaching Awards every semester in the past 11 years. He is known among students for unusually difficult midterms and "mind-boggling" Maple projects. Professor Crotty's rigorous exams pushed his students to set higher standards for themselves. "I learned more about Math from Ed Crotty than from any other teacher I have ever had, more importantly, I learned how teaching should be." "He transformed my indifference toward math into enthusiasm." "This is my fourth semester having him as a professor. I keep coming back, not only because of my own passion for the subject but because of Professor Crotty's obvious passion for the subject."

    One student concludes: "It's not too often that you get a math professor who can quote Shakespeare." His dedicated teaching deserves recognition.

    Health Schools

    Deborah Driscoll

    D. Driscoll

    Dr. Deborah Driscoll graduated from Smith College and received her M.D. from New York University. She joined the faculty of the Medical School at Penn in 1984.  Dr. Driscoll was awarded the APGO Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000 and was also the recipient of the Penn Pearls Teaching Award from the School of Medicine in 2001. Students frequently refer to Dr. Driscoll as a role model, noting that she is highly approachable, takes a personal interest in her students' education and learning, and communicates her genuine interest in the material. Several students mentioned their admiration for the way Dr. Driscoll was able to balance her professional and family life with her compassion for patients and for patients' family members. A former student writes, "Dr. Driscoll proved to be an outstanding mentor, always available to me, supportive and encouraging of my work."  Another student notes that "the lecture she gave during Penn Preview weekend was actually one of the reasons I came to Penn Med." Dr. Driscoll is a vital member of the medical and scientific community at Penn and is a national leader in her field. She has been instrumental in training a cadre of young geneticists. Students believe that "she does it all and does it all very well, and truly demonstrates the lasting impact that a Lindback Award recipient represents."

    Kenneth Ginsburg

    K. Ginsburg

    Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg received his B.A. from Penn and his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was awarded the Faculty Teacher of the Year Award at CHOP for "his dedicated efforts as a physician role model, mentor and friend," and the Penn Pearls Teaching Award presented by medical students "for excellence in clinical teaching," as well as the Blockley-Osler award "for excellence in teaching modern clinical medicine at the bedside."  The practice of the "art" of medicine is what sets Dr. Ginsburg apart as an award worthy educator. "What is unique and so special about him is that he is not only a talented and deeply caring physician who fosters medical education but he is equally committed to fostering the personal growth of each patient, student, and resident that he encounters" writes a colleague. A student writes: "Perhaps the best thing that I can say about Dr. Ginsburg as a teacher is that he has inspired me to practice medicine the way he practices medicine." Colleagues were equally enthusiastic noting: "During the years I have known him he has done everything that our best teachers and colleagues should do, brilliantly, skillfully, professionally, and responsibly. He regards teaching, research, medicine and life as cooperative ventures." A former student concludes, "Ken Ginsburg has been the greatest influence I have had throughout my career."

    Brian Strom

    B. Strom

    Dr. Brian Strom is the George S. Pepper Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and is best known at Penn for his 20-plus year commitment to the development of epidemiology programs. The programs that Dr. Strom has developed are nationally prominent and have produced leaders in epidemiological research who head programs at Penn and other top institutions around the United States. One colleague writes: "Brian has excelled as a teacher and mentor for nearly 25 years, and his influence has had a major impact on the teaching of epidemiology, both at Penn and elsewhere."  Another peer comments: "He sets the bar high, but his own passion for research and teaching stimulate all of those around him to keep striving for excellence in our own work." His colleagues and students alike agree that Dr. Strom is most deserving of the Lindback Teaching Award. His course evaluations from medical students have been consistently outstanding and students call his classes "incredible." A former student notes: "Despite his love of pursuing rigorous academic epidemiologic question, his main concern is that his students get what they want out of their careers and more broadly out of their lives. Although I have had a number of excellent teachers at a number of schools, Professor Strom is in a different league."  He is simply an outstanding educator.

    Corinne Sweeney

    C. Sweeney

    Dr. Corinne Sweeney came to Penn in 1978 as an intern and joined the faculty of the veterinary school in 1981. Dr. Sweeney is already the recipient of the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award and the Executive Board of Alumni's Excellence in Teaching Award. She and her husband, Ray, were honored by being selected by the Class of '03 to deliver the Commencement Address at the Vet School. Colleagues praised her contributions by noting that "as a role model, she has balanced family and career with civic duties, such as her local school board presidency that shows her interest in education and teaching as wildly distributed." A former student writes: "Although it has been over 24 years since I have been in a classroom, I can clearly recall the infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter that Dr. Sweeney brought to her teaching. There is no doubt in my mind that the career path of many of my classmates has been influenced and altered by the distinguished teaching of Dr. Sweeney." Her course evaluations are filled with superlatives: "the best professor I ever had," "Absolutely love her! Can she teach all of our classes?" "Without question one of the best professors I have had at Penn." "She is superb!" A colleague concludes "Clearly Dr. Sweeney has demonstrated outstanding service as a veterinary educator and is truly deserving of the Lindback Award."

    Provost's Award

    Deborah Becker

    D. Becker

    Ms. Deborah Becker has been a member of the School of Nursing faculty for nine years and is currently acting as Interim Director of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program. During her time at Penn, Ms. Becker has served in a broad range of roles including classroom lecturer, seminar leader, clinical preceptor, laboratory instructor, and program assistant.  More notably, she has served as an expert critical care nurse role model for students who are considering a career in this field. Her passion for nursing is described as "infectious" and her mentoring of the students "unfailing." Ms. Becker's enthusiasm for teaching is well recognized by her students. One student writes: "She has the unique ability of making the most complex topics easily understandable for students, while keeping them actively engaged in conversation, and engrossed in scientific inquiry." She holds a practical perspective and an innate ability to relate theory to true life practice. She demonstrates exceptional commitment to the students as well as to the School of Nursing. While highly admired by her students, Ms. Becker is equally respected by her colleagues. One colleague notes that she is articulate and "highly competent with high internal standards about the need for excellence in teaching and critical care." Another nursing school colleague writes "she is an asset not only to the School of Nursing but to the profession at large." 


    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 of Abbotts Dairies Inc. and a Trustee of Bucknell University. The Foundation established Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at colleges and universities throughout the 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 are published as "Talk About Teaching and Learning" in Almanac, the University's journal of record.

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

    The Provost's Awards

    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 the award recipients are the same as those given for the Lindback Awards, and the selection processes and deadlines are the same. The first recipients for the Provost's Awards were Nora Magid of SAS and Paul Orsini of Veterinary Medicine (Almanac April 5, 1988).



      Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 29, April 13, 2004