The University of Maine’s top honors are being awarded to faculty in civil engineering, philosophy, history and communication.
The 2015 Distinguished Maine Professor is Bill Davids, the John C. Bridge Professor of Civil Engineering. The annual award is presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in UMaine’s statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community engagement.
Kirsten Jacobson, associate professor of philosophy, will receive the 2015 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; Richard Judd, Col. James C. McBride Distinguished Professor of History, will receive the 2015 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and Laura Lindenfeld, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and associate professor of communication, will receive the 2015 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award.
The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 9 at Wells Conference Center.
“In our 150th anniversary year, there is no better way to look at the difference a land grant university makes than through the quality teaching, research and community engagement demonstrated by four faculty members of this caliber,” says UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “The work of Bill, Kirsten, Dick and Laura in Maine is known nationally and internationally. The direct beneficiaries are UMaine students and the people of Maine.”
The following faculty citations are excerpted from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees:
2015 Distinguished Maine Professor
John C. Bridge Professor of Civil Engineering
Bill Davids is a gifted, committed educator and outstanding researcher with a strong record of public service. His popular and rigorous upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses produce well-prepared structural engineers who truly understand how engineers design. Davids’ internationally recognized research applies numerical modeling to a wide range of multidisciplinary problems. He has made fundamental contributions to structural, geotechnical, environmental and pavement engineering, and engineering mechanics. Davids’ work has been central to many University of Maine-developed technologies, including blast-resistant structures. His work on inflatable structures resulted in a NASA-funded project focused on atmospheric reentry systems for spacecraft. The breadth of Davids’ expertise makes him a resource for the state. As a structural engineer with particular expertise in bridge engineering, he is frequently tapped by the Maine Department of Transportation for critical safety assessments. He also has helped many Maine-based engineering firms solve difficult structural modeling problems. Davids’ many national, state and UMaine awards include the 2012 L.J. Markwardt Wood Engineering Award from the Forest Products Society and the George Marra Award from the Society of Wood Science and Technology. In 2010, he was named the State of Maine Civil Engineer of the Year by the Maine chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Davids was the UMaine valedictorian in 1989. He also received a master’s degree in civil engineering from UMaine in 1991, and a Ph.D. in civil and structural engineering from the University of Washington in 1998. That year, Davids joined the UMaine College of Engineering faculty. He has chaired the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2012.
2015 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award
Kirsten E. Jacobson
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Kirsten E. Jacobson is recognized for her enthusiasm for teaching and how she encourages students to think for themselves. Since coming to the University of Maine in 2006, she has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy and the philosophy of art, and has created topics-based courses in response to the interests and demands of students, and reflecting her active research. By incorporating ideas, examples and texts from multiple disciplines — from biology and political science to art history and physics — she empowers students in active learning. She encourages students to find the relevance of significant philosophical debates in their lives and in the community, marrying theoretical engagement with practical concerns. That involvement goes beyond the classroom, as Jacobson advises students in Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society, and the Philosophy Club. Another example of Jacobson’s commitment to the quality and value of teaching is in the volunteer-based service-learning program she established in 2009 called Philosophy Across the Ages. The initiative connects UMaine undergraduates with area high school students and retirement community members to discuss philosophical questions and examine their relevance in everyday life. Philosophy Across the Ages epitomizes Jacobson’s commitment as a teacher to “continue always to ask questions of myself and others about the nature of human experience in order that we might become increasingly adept at reflecting and responding to the reality of our situation.” Jacobson received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in 1996 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University in 2006.
2015 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award
Richard W. Judd
Col. James C. McBride Distinguished Professor of History
Richard W. Judd is an internationally recognized researcher and author of environmental history who exemplifies the importance of academic scholarship with a public purpose. By bringing a Maine and New England perspective to bear on how environmental history is conducted and conceptualized, Judd’s research has reshaped — and continues to inform — this area of scholarship. He has inspired the current generation of environmental historians and earned UMaine a reputation for pioneering environmental history research. The depth and breadth of Judd’s scholarship were most recently reflected in The Historical Atlas of Maine, published this year by the University of Maine Press. Judd co-edited and contributed to the Atlas, a geographical and historical interpretation of Maine, from the end of the last ice age to the year 2000. The volume culminates a 15-year humanities project led by Judd, Stephen Hornsby and other UMaine researchers. Judd also is the award-winning author of 11 books, including Second Nature: An Environmental History of New England, published last year; and the definitive history of the state, Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, published in 1995. His 12th book, Finding Thoreau: The Meaning of Nature in the Making of an Environmental Icon, is expected in 2016. For three decades, he has been the lead editor of the state journal of historical record, Maine History, published by the UMaine History Department and the Maine Historical Society. Judd came to UMaine as a postdoctoral researcher in 1980 and joined the History Department faculty four years later. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Irvine.
2015 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award
Laura A. Lindenfeld
Director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center
Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism
As a researcher of communication, Laura A. Lindenfeld has demonstrated a deep commitment to applying her knowledge and skills to enhancing the public good and well being of citizens and organizations in Maine. Her research focuses on understanding stakeholders’ needs and helping build more effective partnerships, developing strategies to help align University of Maine resources with the state’s needs. By linking her research, teaching and mentorship of students to on-the-ground action, she has advanced collaboration across organizations and contexts. In 2013 in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, she launched UMaine’s Faculty Fellows — a two-year professional development program to empower 20 faculty leaders to advance the impact of their work by engaging with communities and university stakeholders. The second cohort of Faculty Fellows is now being selected. Lindenfeld’s community engagement initiatives also includes leadership on engaging students in a series of advertising campaigns that directly supported local businesses and nonprofit organizations; stewardship of teacher training grants to support English as a Second Language educators in Maine; membership on the Governor’s Task Force to Engage Maine’s Youth; and service on the Maine Humanities Council. Lindenfeld joined the UMaine faculty in 2004. She received a master’s degree in German and Scandinavian literature and language studies from the University of Bonn, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of California, Davis.