Middlebury

Middlebury names five faculty members to endowed professorships

September 8, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-With the start of the new academic year on September 8, President Ronald D. Liebowitz has announced the appointment of five faculty members to endowed professorships at Middlebury College.

Sunhee Choi, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been named the John G. McCullough Professor of Chemistry. Choi, who was selected Vermont Professor of the Year in 2005 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, has been a member of the faculty since 1987.

President Liebowitz commended Prof. Choi for developing "a nationally recognized research program at Middlebury that highlights the place of metals in biological systems and is regularly funded by such prestigious granting agencies as the National Institute for Health and the National Science Foundation." Choi holds a B.S. from Seoul National University, an M.A. from Korean Advanced Institute of Science, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

The McCullough chair is named in honor of the former Vermont governor (1903-04) and longtime trustee (1900-1915) of the College, who donated generously to Middlebury throughout his life.

Andrea Olsen, professor of dance, has been named the Kathleen and William F. Truscott '83 Professor in Environmental Studies. Said President Liebowitz, Ms. Olsen's "work as a dancer, teacher, and philosopher of how the body relates to the earth has helped define the humanistic dimensions of environmental studies at Middlebury. Although dance and choreography are traditionally allied with the performing arts, Andrea Olsen has succeeded in broadening our vision of the arts so that students, colleagues, and other members of the community can now see the body's movement through space as an essential aspect of how we understand and create the environment around us."

Olsen earned her A.B. at Milliken University and M.F.A. at University of Utah, and has been at Middlebury since 1982. The professorship honors Kathleen O'Connor Truscott and William F. Truscott, both from the Class of 1983, and it is the second chair they have endowed at Middlebury.

Sallie P. Sheldon, professor of biology, has been named the Albert D. Mead Professor of Biology. A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (A.B., M.A.) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D.), Professor Sheldon has, in the words of President Liebowitz, "demonstrated a commitment both to basic scientific research and environmental citizenship, as evidenced by her longstanding efforts to address the milfoil problem in Vermont lakes and pond, as well as in other regions across the country. Significantly, this research has often involved the efforts of Middlebury students, thus underscoring her skill as a teacher and mentor."

In announcing the Mead Professorship, the president noted that Sheldon has recently shifted her research focus to molecular genetics. He termed the transition "impressive" and said it "epitomizes the curiosity and intellectual passion that she has shown throughout her career." Sheldon has been a member of the faculty since 1985.

The chair is named for Albert Mead, a member of the Class of 1890 and a long-time trustee of the College who was a member of the biology department at Brown University for 41 years.

Grace Spatafora, professor of biology, has been named the Irene Heinz and John LaPorte Given Professorship in Pre-Medical Sciences.

Calling her "especially well qualified to hold the chair," President Liebowitz said, "Grace Spatafora's use of genetic and recombinant DNA approaches to understand the bacterial causes of plaque formations and dental cavities has established the Spatafora lab as a model for bench science at Middlebury. Her commitment to involving students in this research has elevated the profile of science at the College, while her careful mentorship has guided these students to careers in academia, medicine, and related fields."

Spatafora, who joined the faculty in 1985, earned her B.S. at Duke University, M.S. at Richmond University, and Ph.D. at St. Louis University. The Irene Heinz and John LaPorte Given Foundation established the professorship at Middlebury in 1966.

Stephen Trombulak, professor of biology and environmental studies, has been named to the Environmental and Biosphere Studies Professorship, a newly endowed chair at the College. Professor Trombulak, who arrived at Middlebury in 1985, did "heroic work to rebuild the environmental studies program," is largely responsible for the "current vitality" of the program, and is "singularly qualified" to hold Middlebury's first chair dedicated to environmental and biosphere studies, said President Liebowitz.

"During the past decade," the president added, "Steve Trombulak's research on conservation biology has incorporated GIS studies of the Northern Appalachian wilderness area and focused on the habitat of ground beetles. This creative, interdisciplinary approach to the study of the environment has been a hallmark of his scholarship and teaching. The passion he brings to his work with students-in the classroom, the lab, and the field-now characterizes Middlebury's environmental studies program as a whole"

Trombulak earned his bachelor's degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. An anonymous donor established the professorship in 2008.