Five University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty have collected the University of Nebraska system’s most esteemed honors for research, creative activity, teaching and engagement.
Those earning the President’s Excellence Awards are Robert Brooke, Judy Diamond, Vanessa Gorman, Jordan Stump and Mark Svoboda.
Announced April 6, the awards recognize faculty across the NU system whose work has had a strong impact on students, university and state.
“Faculty are part of the lifeblood of any great university and the University of Nebraska system is fortunate to have some of the world’s best serving across our four campuses,” said Ted Carter, president of the NU system. “The teaching, research and outreach that these faculty do on a daily basis has a transformational impact on students, our communities, and economic growth and prosperity in Nebraska and beyond.
“It’s an honor to lift up and celebrate their work.”
Huskers earned five of the six honors awarded in three categories.
Brooke, John E. Weaver professor of English and director of the Nebraska Writing Project, and Gorman, professor of history and classics, both received the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award. The OTICA recognizes individual faculty who have demonstrated meritorious and sustained records of excellence and creativity in teaching.
Diamond, professor of university libraries and courtesy professor of teaching, learning, and teacher education, as well as with agricultural leadership, education and communication; and Svoboda, climatologist and director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, both received the Innovation, Development and Engagement Award. The IDEA recognizes faculty who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university, enriching the broader community.
Stump, Cather Professor of French, received the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity award. The ORCA recognizes faculty for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.
The other NU faculty member honored is Howard Fox, senior associate dean of research and development in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Medicine, who received an ORCA.
The awards — selected by an NU-systemwide committee of faculty and community members — will be formally presented at a luncheon in the spring. Biographies of the five Huskers who earned individual 2022 President’s Excellence Awards are below.
Outstanding Research and Creative Activity award
Stump specializes in 20th-century and contemporary literature. He is the author of two book-length studies of the novels of Raymond Queneau. His true calling is literary translation, a vocation he discovered just after he was hired to Nebraska U in 1992 and found himself on a campus with a world-class press invested in the publication of foreign contemporary writing. Stump has since published some 30 translations from French. His translation of Claude Simon’s “The Jardin des Plantes” was awarded the French-American Foundation’s Translation Prize in 2001, and his translation of Marie NDiaye’s “The Cheffe” won the American Literary Translators’ Association’s Annual Prize in 2020. In 2006 he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to the spread of French and Francophone culture.
Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award
Brooke focuses on place-conscious education. He invites teachers to connect their students’ writing and reading to their local communities in the Great Plains, then spiral out to national and global issues. In his many partnerships with Nebraska teachers, he establishes three-way collaborations between university students, local secondary and elementary classes, and regional organizations such as Homestead National Park or the Center for People in Need. Brooke became director of the Nebraska Writing Project in 1994, after facilitating the summer institute for the preceding 10 years. The Nebraska Writing Project generates more than 11,000 contact hours with teachers every year, through immersive institutes for teachers of writing, continuity programs sponsoring further teacher inquiry for teachers already associated with the program, and youth and community programs.
Gorman offers courses in ancient Greek and Roman history, Athenian democracy, and ancient Greek language. She is particularly devoted to teaching her students the craft of writing an argument that is clear, persuasive and well-documented. Gorman has created an open access, digital collection of Greek sentence diagrams, called syntactic trees. It is the world’s largest single-annotator repository in any language. Using the resulting data, she has been collaborating with her husband and fellow classicist, Robert Gorman, associate professor, to invent revolutionary methods of identifying authorship based on measuring the frequency of grammatical structures. Gorman was inspired by her research to pioneer an innovative approach to teaching languages. Her goal is to make Greek and Latin more easily accessible to people in and out of academia.
Innovation, Development and Engagement Award
Diamond’s career is dedicated to creating innovative informal science education outreach programs and conducting research on the behavior of wild birds. During her decades at Nebraska U, she has secured about $10 million in grant funding to support outreach projects on human biology, viruses, Antarctic climate change and evolution. Her initiatives foster public education about cutting-edge biological research through innovative museum and media deliverables. Recently, Diamond was awarded National Science Foundation funding to create comics that help young people better understand the COVID-19 pandemic. This built on a National Institutes of Health grants where she led teams to create comics and other outreach materials about viruses and bacteria. Diamond was creator and project director of Wonderwise Women in Science, an NSF-funded and award-winning multimedia curriculum project featuring the research of female scientists.
Svoboda works closely with federal, tribal, state, basin, local and international officials and governments on drought monitoring early warning information systems, drought risk management planning and collaborative research. He is the co-founder and served for 17 years as one of the principal authors of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor. His work with the core team of the Western Governors’ Association led to the development of a report and recommendations on creating a National Integrated Drought Information System for the United States. He is currently a member of the World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership Integrated Drought Management Programme’s Advisory Panel. Svoboda is internationally known for his drought monitoring/early warning and risk management work and has been a keynote speaker, principal investigator, consultant, advisory board member, or an invited expert for activities in more than 65 countries, regions and organizations.