University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

University Distinguished Professors

Recognition of University
Distinguished Professors
John M. Hughes, Senior Vice President
and Provost

Recognition of University Distinguished Professors
John M. Hughes, Senior Vice President and Provost of the University of Vermont

Provost Hughes

At the University of Vermont our most prominent faculty members are internationally recognized scholar/teachers who have made outstanding contributions to advancing knowledge in their discipline. Many of the world’s leading universities recognize a select few of their most distinguished scholar/teachers with the rank of University Distinguished Professor.

The University of Vermont has thus created the rank of University Distinguished Professor. Today, the first of our eventual 10 University Distinguished Professors will be named. These scholars will be entitled to use the title University Distinguished Professor throughout their career at the University of Vermont, and wear a medal with their academic regalia signifying this distinction. They will also serve as an informal advisory body to the leadership of the university, and receive an annual professional expense stipend to support their scholarly endeavors.

President Fogel will you please join me in making the presentation.

I am now pleased to announce the first University Distinguished Professors: Professors Rex L. Forehand, Mark T. Nelson, Burton E. Sobel, and Judith L. Van Houten. Would you please come forward. Unfortunately, Dr. Sobel is unable to join us today.

Rex L. Forehand, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Professor Forehand, you are recognized as one of the leading authorities in child and family psychology. Before coming to UVM you attained the ranks of Distinguished Research Professor and Regents’ Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia.

In your career you have been a prolific grantwinner and scholar, publishing nearly 400 scholarly works in a field with a 70% rejection rate. Among your numerous honors you have been particularly widely recognized for your role in mentoring your student colleagues.

One reviewer noted that your students over the years have contributed 800 of their own scholarly pieces to the literature. Another reviewer, a University Distinguished Professor at his own institution, summarizes your stature by noting: “Rex Forehand is a superstar. He not only deserves this honor, but he will be a terrific standard bearer, someone who will set the exact tone I would want to set with your new University Distinguished Professorships.”

Rex L. Forehand, I am pleased to recognize you as University Distinguished Professor of Psychology.

Mark T. Nelson, University Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology. Professor Nelson, you are considered a superb scientist, an effective and admired professor and chair, and a remarkably supporting and nurturing mentor.

Your discoveries and characterizations of diverse channels, Ca2+ sparks and functional changes in vascular smooth muscle have changed the field and now inform all work in smooth muscle function that is published today.

Reviewers observe that the pace of building your research portfolio, with over 170 scientific publications and an astonishing number of those in the journals Science and Nature, appears to be even accelerating. As one reviewer summarized, “Mark T. Nelson is a remarkable and complete scientist of international renown. It is truly appropriate for the University to bestow upon him the title of University Distinguished Professor.”

Mark T. Nelson, I am pleased to recognize you as University Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology.

Burton E. Sobel, University Distinguished Professor of Medicine. Professor Sobel, you are recognized as one of the great academic physicians of our time. A magna cum laude graduate of the Harvard Medical School, you have received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology and the Distinguished Achievement Award and the Herric Award from the American Heart Association.

Although we are proud to call you our own, you have served as a visiting professor at the most distinguished medical schools in our country. I can personally note the difficulty I had in trying to electronically send your vita to reviewers, as with its listing of nearly 900 scholarly articles it was too large to ship in one file. As one reviewer noted, “I can think of few other leaders in cardiovascular research to whom this title should apply, and know that were he to be granted the title, he would serve in that capacity beyond expectation.”

Dr. Sobel will be conferred at a later date.

Judith L. Van Houten, University Distinguished Professor of Biology. Professor Van Houten, you are identified as a world leader in chemosensory sensing using the unicellular Paramecium as a model organism. The originality and high quality of your research are clearly evidenced by the nearly continuous research funding you have received over three decades from the NSF and the NIH, including the prestigious NIH Merit Award. In addition to authoring hundreds of scholarly works, you have received more than $30M in major research funding, much of it selflessly directed to supporting your colleagues at UVM and around the State.

Your colleagues around the nation, from the highest levels of the academy, speak of your distinguished service and leadership in addition to your remarkable scholarly achievements.

Judith L. Van Houten, I am pleased to recognize you as University Distinguished Professor of Biology.

Please join me in congratulating our first University Distinguished Professors.

Last modified May 25 2009 08:39 AM

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