Boston University Honors Three Professors with 2013 Excellence-in-Teaching Awards


CONTACT: Richard Taffe, 617-353-4626,

(Boston) — Boston University will bestow its highest teaching award, the 41th Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, to School of Medicine assistant dean of admissions and anatomy and neurobiology Professor Deborah W. Vaughan, one of nearly 3,500 faculty members.

BU also will recognize at Commencement on May 19th College of Arts and Sciences biology Associate Professor John R. Finnerty and College of Arts and School of Education Associate Professor Carol B. Jenkins as recipients of Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“The Metcalf Awards are the highest honor that we can bestow on members of our faculty, and we do so at Commencement in order to show how much we value and respect the work that great scholars can do as great teachers.” said BU President Robert Brown.

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.

Deborah (Whittaker) Vaughan

“I have never viewed my teaching responsibilities as just filling the heads of students with facts, but rather I have the opportunity to light a fire and empower our students to become the kind of professional Boston University is proud to send out into the world,” said Vaughn, whose research has focused on characterizing the effects of advancing age on the central nervous system.  “[But] my responsibilities as an educator do not end in the classroom.  Although our students are indeed pre-doctors, they are still someone’s children, and I am there for those who need me.  I treat my students as I would like my own adult children to be treated: with respect.”

Vaughan grew up in Concord, N.H., raised her family in Weston, Mass., and now lives in South Boston.  Renowned for her innovations in medical education, she created and published a digitized Histology (study of microscopic anatomy) Atlas that is actively used online by medical schools around the world.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Vermont and Ph.D. at Boston University.  Joining the BU faculty in 1972 and has twice won the BU medical campus’s top teaching awards.  She serves on the International Association of Medical Science Educators’ board of directors.

John R. Finnerty

“As director of the BU Marine Program, I coined a marketing slogan of sorts to capture what I felt was our key strength:  Where most science majors teach students about science, our program teaches students how to be scientists,” said Finnerty, who stresses interdisciplinary research that blends multiple realms of science.  “It is essential that 21st century scientists learn to disrespect the artificial boundaries to inquiry that have been erected by our 19th and 20th century disciplines.”

Born and raised in Scranton, Pa., Finnerty is a longtime resident of Natick, Mass., where he coaches baseball and basketball and serves as videographer for the local youth tackle football team.  He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, joining the BU faculty in 1999 where he has been awarded numerous National Science Foundation grants.

Carol B. Jenkins

“‘Situated learning’ describes the essence of my approach to teaching,” said Jenkins, who has developed breakthrough methods to train educators to teach literacy in urban schools by both co-teaching classes in a local, predominately minority elementary school and also inviting some of the school’s fourth graders to be taught at BU by pre-service teachers who are observed and critiqued.  “While this powerful practice is not without its challenges, our school-based experiment … is central to preparing culturally responsive teachers.”

A resident of Milton, Mass., who grew up across the Charles River from BU in Cambridge, Jenkins has worked in the field of literacy as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and teacher educator.  She joined the BU faculty in 1990 after earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. from Boston College.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research.  With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.  BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission.  In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

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High-resolution digital photographs of the 2012 Metcalf Cup and Prize winner and the Metcalf Award winners are available at:

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