Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"Digital communications and computer technology are changing the face of research in the humanities, and we're trying to invent new ways of presenting that on the Web."


Kathleen Woodward


The Thorud Leadership Award is an individual honor, but this year's faculty winner, Kathleen Woodward, prefers to see it as a collective award for everyone involved in the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, which she directs.

It's easy to see why. The Thorud Award is for a faculty and staff member who "leads, serves, inspires and collaborates with broad impact." That describes to a T the interdisciplinary work being done by the Simpson Center -- bringing together scholars throughout the humanities, on campus and off, for research and collaborative work that becomes more than the sum of its parts.

The center was created in 1987 and renamed for Simpson in 1997 after a major gift from his son, Barclay Simpson. Its mission is four-fold: To encourage crossdisciplinary research among UW faculty and students, to establish public programs in the humanities that promote civic engagement, to pioneer innovative and crossdisciplinary courses for students and to support cutting-edge initiatives in the humanities.

Woodward, who is also a professor of English, came to the UW in 2000 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where since 1981 she had directed the university's Center for Twentieth Century Studies. She's the author of several books, including Aging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions (1991) and At Last, the Real Distinguished Thing: The Late Poems of Eliot, Pound, Stevens and Williams (1980). Her latest book, Statistical Panic: The Cultural Politics and Poetics of the Emotions, is due in early 2009 from Duke University Press.

The center's collaborative work has bloomed under Woodward, with projects like the Digital Humanities Initiative, which combines traditional scholarship with interactive, multimedia presentation. "Digital communications and computer technology are changing the face of research in the humanities," Woodward said, "and we're trying to invent new ways of presenting that on the Web." This involves the pairing of scholars with designers to create "an aesthetic object, and at the same time a scholarly work...we're seeing the possibilities of being able to bring knowledge to life."

Woodward points with pride to the meeting facilities in the Simpson Center, where biweekly meetings are held of the center's Society of Scholars. This is a group of a dozen or so faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the humanities -- "an intellectual community," Woodward said, selected competitively and given grants -- who meet to share their work.

She also feels strongly about supporting the work of scholars at the associate professor level. "There is precious little mentoring of faculty at this rank, and a recent national study has shown that many associate professors get 'stuck' at this rank, a mark of failure on the part of colleges and universities themselves," she said. Under her leadership, the Simpson Center began a special program to support the research of scholars at this rank.

There's no shortage of praise in the letters supporting Woodward's nomination for the Thorud Award, including from Crispin Thurlow, assistant professor of communications and a colleague in the Society of Scholars.

"'Interdisciplinary' is a notion too often rendered hollow by the pressures of disciplinary professionalism and by the limited resources of central administration," Thurlow wrote. "However, Kathy's leadership of the Simpson Center makes interdisciplinarity real. I sometimes wonder if she's single-handedly doing more to foster academic exchange and intellectual ingenuity than just about anyone else at the UW."

Praise comes, too, from Ana Mari Cauce, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, who wrote that under Woodward's leadership the Simpson Center has "gone from a good, but relatively hidden, center doing work at the margins of the humanities, to one of the most vibrant centers in the college."

Cauce, too, notes that Woodward is reluctant to take credit personally. "The plain truth is that without her leadership and vision, the Simpson Center would simply not have the far-reaching influence that it does today. I do not use the word ‘visionary' lightly, but it really does apply to Woodward."

For her part -- and coming back around to where we started -- Woodward said, "I'm personally honored by this award. But I also regard this award as honoring the crucial role that the humanities have to play in shaping our intellectual lives."