Boston University to Recognize Three Professors for Excellence in Teaching Honors

in College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine Arts, News Releases, School of Public Health, University Affairs
May 6th, 2011

Contact: Richard Taffe, 617-353-4626 | rtaffe@bu.edu

(Boston) — Boston University announced it will bestow its highest teaching award at Commencement May 22nd to College of Fine Arts School of Theater Associate Professor Judith B. Chaffee, the 39th recipient of the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching. BU also will recognize School of Law Professor David I. Walker and School of Public Professor Wayne W. LaMorte as recipients of Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“We expect much from the members of our faculty in their roles as researchers and scholars, as active participants in the life of the community, and especially as teachers,” said BU President Robert Brown. “It’s particularly fitting that we present the Metcalf honors during our commencement ceremony. This is an opportunity for us to show the entire community how highly we value excellence in teaching and to show our respect and appreciation for the most outstanding teachers in our community.”

The Metcalf Cup carries with it a prize of $10,000. The Metcalf Award winners each receive a prize of $5,000. Students, faculty and alumni nominate candidates for the awards established in 1973 by a gift from the late Boston University Board of Trustees chairman emeritus Arthur G.B. Metcalf.

Judith B. Chaffee

“It is a joy to teach skills that will be valuable to students throughout their lives; skills that nurture their imaginations, and that bring personal empowerment,” says Chaffee, who aims to teach how and why the body is a universal language of expression and communication. “My teaching style has changed from demonstrating and explaining in class, to a more effective approach of evoking imagery and suggesting possibilities so that students are not just copying or doing what I say, but rather sensing their musicality or discovering their own potentials.”

A Newbury, Mass., resident, Chaffee joined the BU faculty in 1974 as Director of Dance in the Department of Physical Education and Recreation and later joined the School of Theatre and the BU Opera Institute as movement coordinator for actors and singers as well as choreographer. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, a master’s at Smith College, and a diploma from the International School of Comic Acting in Italy. She has acted in the U.S. and abroad, taught at theater groups and universities worldwide, and serves as choreographer for numerous groups including OperaBoston, the LA Shakespeare Company, and the Huntington Theater Company.

David I. Walker

“Most broadly, I strongly emphasize public policy considerations in my basic income tax and corporations classes,” Walker said when asked how encourages students to see the life-long impact of the material he teaches. “In tax, we spend a significant amount of time talking about the impact of tax rules on the distribution of the economic burdens of funding society. In corporations, we talk about the proper role of government in regulating private enterprise. But frankly, it isn’t difficult getting law students to see the big picture.”

Walker, a Boston resident who joined the BU School of Law faculty in 2002, teaches taxation, corporate law, law and economics, and the economic structure of deals. Having had an earlier career in the oil industry after earning an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University, he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1998 and worked in the Ropes & Gray law firm tax department before coming to BU.

Wayne W. LaMorte

“Students, even those who are initially less motivated, like challenges and puzzles, particularly if they have relevance to the real world,” says LaMorte whose teaching reaches gpublic-health and medical students, both undergraduate and graduate, on-line students, and even high schoolers. “Students tend to become hooked when they realize that the subject material matters to them. For example, instead of presenting epidemiology as an arcane science, I teach it as a form of ‘structured thinking’ that is a simple, logical and powerful way to evaluate information in order to identify important associations and separate truth from fallacy.”

A resident of Weymouth, Mass., who has been on the Boston University faculty 29 years, LaMorte received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, his MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and both a master’s in public health in epidemiology and biostatistics and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from BU. Both an assistant dean and professor of epidemiology in the BU School of Public Health, he directs three of the school’s dual-degree programs and is principal investigator for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to manage the Local Public Health Institute of Massachusetts, which provides training to public health workers in the state’s 351 communities.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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(Note to editors: High-resolution digital photographs of the 2011 Metcalf Cup and Prize winner and the Metcalf Award winners are available — password “Teaching Excellence” — at http://buphotos.photoshelter.com/gallery/Metcalf-Award-Winners-2011/G0000yRaSzITwqoI).

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