LYN CAREW: MAN OF MANY WORDS
Popular and Winner of the 2013 Robert O. Sinclair Cup for Career Achievement
- By Cheryl Dorschner
The phrase, “long record of service to UVM and the community,” is one used to describe many an award winner. And there are many awards given annually each spring at the University of Vermont. Like all of the other award-winning faculty, Lyndon Carew is of course, a leader, scholar, researcher and teacher. What sets Lyn Carew apart from his peers and those who have gone before him is that he seems to do it all with a genuine, humble attitude of service.
He’s the kind of guy, who, once he’s got your attention, he just won’t let go.
When he stood before an audience of fellow faculty, staff, alumni and friends of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at its annual award ceremony and alumni dinner on May 11, Carew was the second of two winners this year of the Robert O. Sinclair Cup for career achievement. The family of the late Win Way had just received its silver julep cup. (Sinclair, a former CALS dean also attended the event.)
Before that, Danielle Leahy had won the College’s Outstanding Senior Award.
While the audience members were eating salads they had heard UVM President Tom Sullivan say that "CALS’ is central to University and its Land-Grant mission" due to its "teaching and research in agriculture and biological sciences, its work to advance teaching and science to the State of Vermont and in its research that stewards the enviromnment in Vermont and well beyond."
Folks were finishing their desserts when Carew held up his two-minute acceptance speech on what looked like a slim stack of 5x7-inch cards.
“Since my last class (Carew retired from teaching in 2010), I’ve been waiting for a moment such as this, where I have 200 people in a room so I can talk…,” he quipped.
The audience laughed.
Then he let the speech cards unfold, accordion-style and cascade to the floor.
The audience laughed again.
“But I have so much to talk about,” he said in earnest.
Turns out, he wasn’t kidding.
After 15 minutes event organizer Robin Smith, who times the event down to the minute and aims for it to end at 8 p.m., waved her hands with two fingers pointing.
“Robin, did you say I have 75 minutes?” he grinned peering to the back of the room through his oversized spectacles.
“Every year, I was teaching young students, 20-21 years old," he continued. They were the same age every year. I assumed I was the same age every year,” Carew observed. “Now that I’ve retired, I’ve grown old.”
At about 20 minutes, Betsy Greene, sitting at a front table, tried to get his attention.
Meanwhile, Carew went on to other topics: teaching, students nowadays, travels….
At about 30 minutes award presenter Dean Tom Vogelmann, standing at the side of the stage, edged deliberately closer to the center.
On his own time, Carew did wrap up his remarks eventually and left everyone in laughter. He had just demonstrated exactly the kind of character and classroom lecturer he had been for nearly 40 years: one of comic timing, but one who runs on a different internal clock.
“I’m programmed to talk for 75 minutes,” he said later.
Lyn Carew by the Numbers
- A native Massachusettsian, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1955 and Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1961. He worked in research at Cornell, for Hess and Clark, a veterinary pharmaceutical company in Ohio and internationally until he joined CALS faculty in 1969 as an associate professor of animal science. In 1973 he became professor of both animal science and nutrition and food sciences. In 1983 he added to his UVM duties, teaching at the William H. Miner Institute in Chazy, NY.
- As a research scientist he has garnered more than $3 million in federal Hatch funds to support his studies. His research is well known on the effects of adding oils and fatty acids to poultry feed to improve chick health. This led to Carew’s international reputation for his work with velvet beans as a poultry feed ingredient for farmers in the tropics.
- He not only published 136 journal articles, he has been editor and reviewer for publications as varied as “Comparative Biochemistry Research” and “Journal of Applied Poultry Research.”
- He taught 26 different courses in nutrition and food sciences and animal science.
“The list goes on and on. Every academic has numbers,” said Vogelmann. “However, this award speaks to what really makes Lyn Carew distinctive from every other high achiever.”
The Three Things About Lyn Carew
First, Carew was an early adopter of computers in nutrition education, and got grants to fund his computerized diet analysis programs, test generators and other interactive elements unheard of at the time. By 1983, he was the first in the country to develop a computerized undergraduate nutrition education program – on large-format floppy disks, and then revised repeatedly as technology advanced over the years. People from Bolivia, Iran, Australia and Peru contacted him about this Internet-accessible program, and he became a world traveler. As his UVM colleague Deborah Paradis, said of Carew, “He brought teaching into the technological age. His dream was that he could someday reach people beyond the walls of this university.”
‘Clearly a man ahead of his time.
Secondly, Lyn Carew is legendary for his unfailing teaching of the popular Fundamentals of Nutrition course. It’s a course whose popularity went viral via the students themselves, it introduced nonmajors to nutrition and inspired change in many young people’s majors and careers. His classes sometimes topped 300 students per semester, every fall and spring from 1971 through 2011. He also taught this course evenings for 25 years and summers for 13 years. His colleagues tallied that, during his career, Lyn Carew reached more than 10,000 students.
Carew worked long after traditional retirement age, becoming an emeriti professor in 2010, the same year he published a memoir.
Although Professor Carew's longevity in the classroom is amazing, this award is based on the quality of his teaching and the broad range of individuals he has touched during his outstanding career.
Because his 35-year career at UVM has brought great honor and recognition to the University of Vermont, Carew has already received the University’s top accolades: the Kidder, Kroepsch-Maurice, University Scholar, NAFTA and Carrigan Awards (He received the Carrigan twice.)
And yet, the essence of Lyn Carew – the third thing that distinguishes him – is that he is a champion of his peers, colleagues and his students – attending all of the department, college and UVM events. Colleagues say Carew takes more pleasure in others’ accomplishments than his own, citing that it was always he who nominated others for awards, wrote letters of support, met award deadlines. So it is with great symmetry that five of his dearest colleagues submitted a 53-page nomination of him for this award.
Rachel Johnson who now teaches the famous Fundamentals of Nutrition said it best, “He was incredible to observe. In the classroom; engaging, brilliant, funny, energetic. Our students loved him. I wish you were there on Lyn's last day of teaching. A large group of his animal science and nutrition and food science colleagues entered the back of the room near the end of his final lecture. We rose and cheered as Lyn ended the lecture. Rather than rushing out of the room at the end of class as students typically do, they stayed en masse taking photos and shaking Lyn's hand. As I said…He is beloved.”
Likewise on this evening, May 11, the audience rose and cheered as Carew ended the lecture, er, acceptance speech. Carew’s long and colorful record of service to the University of Vermont is matched perfectly by his penchant for long and colorful remarks. And he is beloved.
And that leads to stories such as this one, 1,281 words long.