University Scholars for 2008 - 2009

The University Scholars program recognizes distinguished UVM faculty members for sustained excellence in research and scholarly activities. The Scholars are selected by a faculty panel based upon nominations submitted by UVM colleagues.

For a listing of all our prior scholars, please click here.

For 2008-2009, the University Scholars are:


Jeffrey Dinitz

Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Jeff Dinitz received his Bachelor’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon University, and his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from the Ohio State University. He came to UVM as an Assistant Professor in 1980, and was appointed Professor in 1992. The author of over 80 research publications, he has served as the Chair of the Mathematics Department, and is known for his efforts to recruit women and minorities to that Department’s faculty and graduate programs. He is acclaimed for his interactive teaching style and his contributions to both graduate and undergraduate teaching and mentoring. Since 2004, Prof. Dinitz has also Directed the Governor’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences, a program that brings several dozen of the state’s brightest high school math students to campus each summer for intensive seminars and learning experiences.

Professor Dinitz is known world-wide for his research work in the field of combinatorics and design theory – areas of discrete mathematics concerned with efficient design of experiments, and which provide foundational knowledge for fields such as computer science, medical experimentation, information science, game theory, and bioinformatics. He is a founding editor and current editor-in-chief for the Journal of Combinatorial Designs, and is co-editor of the acclaimed CRC Handbook of Combinatorial Design – a book that reviewers call “the bible” for understanding state-of-the-art work in combinatorial designs. He is known for raising a famous mathematical question, called the “Dinitz Conjecture,” which took 15 years to solve and which produced a new field of study called “chooseability.”

Construction of elegant mathematical designs can result in many useful applications, such as designing medical trials and scheduling complex, interlinked events. One of the most public applications of Prof. Dinitz’s work was in its application to creating the schedule of league games for the 2001 football season for the now-defunct XFL league (Extreme Football League). He and his colleague, Dalibor Froncek, attended the league’s championship game in Los Angeles and an article about their work appeared in the New York Times.

If you check his website, you’ll see that he’s a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes!

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Marjorie Lipson

Professor of Elementary Education
College of Education and Social Services

Marjorie Lipson received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, her Master’s degree from UVM, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. After receiving her doctorate and working as an Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University, Prof. Lipson joined the UVM Education faculty in the role of Visiting Assistant Professor in 1982-1983. She later returned as an Associate Professor in 1985, and was awarded Full Professor status in 1997.

Prof. Lipson is known nationally and internationally for her research in the areas of reading and literacy. Her work focuses on topics related to reading comprehension and testing, analysis of writing problems, and methods of language instruction, with particular attention towards the literacy learning of elementary school-aged children. She is a prolific writer, and has authored or co-authored many scholarly papers and chapters, nine books, 16 monographs, and numerous sets of teacher training materials. Her new book, entitled Assessment and Instruction of Reading and Writing Difficulties, will be published in 2009. Prof. Lipson has obtained over $3.25 million in funding for her educational research, including grants that have supported many training and professional development projects for the State of Vermont. As one of her nominators wrote, “Much of the innovation in reading and writing that occurs in Vermont is due to the work of Prof. Lipson.”

n 1991, Prof. Lipson was awarded the Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Teaching Excellence at UVM, and in 1995, she was also honored with the Lyman C. Hunt, Jr., Award from the Vermont Council on Reading. Prof. Lipson was elected to the National Reading Conference Board of Directors in 2001. Her profound impact on her field, her contributions to both teaching and research, and her commitment to mentoring students can be summed up in the words of one of her nominators, who wrote, “Dr. Lipson is a teacher’s teacher and a scholar’s scholar.”

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Benjamin Littenberg, M.D

The Henry and Carleen Tufo Professor of Medicine
Professor of Nursing, and Director of General Internal Medicine
College of Medicine

Benjamin Littenberg received his bachelor’s degree from Western Reserve College in Cleveland and his M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, and following that, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Stanford University Medical Center. After serving on the faculty at both the Dartmouth Medical Center and the Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Littenberg arrived at UVM in 1999 as the Henry and Carleen Tufo Professor of Medicine. He currently is Director of General Internal Medicine at UVM, and is also a Professor of Nursing.

Dr. Littenberg is an accomplished scientist and leader in the fields of medical technology assessment and in quality improvement and patient safety. He has published over 200 papers, book chapters, and peer-reviewed abstracts, including work on medical decision making, diagnostic testing and disease screening, and strategies for care of chronically ill patients. Dr. Littenberg has an extensive record of local, national and international consultation, and he has developed quality health care and safety improvements for the Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System and the Vermont Diabetes Information System. Currently, he has over $ 3.5 million in active research grants.

At the University of Vermont, Dr. Littenberg has taken a leadership role in the development of the forthcoming Center for Clinical and Translational Science. His dedication to mentoring and teaching graduate students and medical professionals is renowned. He has supervised 39 research fellows and five graduate students over the years (14 of these are currently academic faculty at various institutions). In his professional service, Dr. Littenberg has served on the editorial boards of two major medical journals, and has held committee assignments in the major professional societies of his discipline. As one of his nominators wrote, “Dr. Littenberg has an amazing and contagious enthusiasm for science and for life.”

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Robert H. Rodgers

Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature
Colleges of Arts and Sciences

Robert Rodgers graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and later received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Subsequently, he was employed as a faculty member at University College, London, and at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to UVM in 1979 as an Adjunct Professor, and he served in several roles (Visiting, Associate, and, in 1991, Full Professor) before being named the Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature in 2006.

Professor Rodgers is an internationally renowned textual critic and paleographer with a focus on texts related to specialized branches of ancient sciences and crafts. His research involves reconstructing textual histories and texts themselves – a process that requires detailed research skills, patience to sift through the data, clear logic to analyze the relations among fragments, imagination to draw out the analysis, and deep command of the ancient languages. Indeed, just a summary of the languages in which Prof. Rodgers has expertise illustrates the complexity of this field: he works in Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, ancient Armenian, and modern Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Norwegian and Danish). His books and published work are highly influential; he is one of the very, very few American scholars in this field to have such a stellar international reputation.

Prof. Rodgers has written 10 books and over 40 articles, and has received a dozen major fellowships and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is acclaimed by his colleagues at UVM and elsewhere as “a scholar of great accomplishment and high distinction,” and as “one of the most outstanding scholars in this country and in the world.” Beyond his prodigious intellectual accomplishments, Prof. Rodgers continues to teach and mentor graduate and undergraduate students, to contribute to enhancing the humanities on campus (his work in promoting Phi Beta Kappa on campus, and as new Director for the Center for Research on Vermont, is noteworthy), and to facilitate interdisciplinary work in the humanities both on-campus and across Vermont.

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