Presentation of 2014 United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award to Prof. Thomas Gilmore

From Dr. Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Each year, a distinguished member of our faculty is recognized for his or her “dedication and contributions to the learning arts and to the institution” with the United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award, a special honor established by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

The embrace of this dual role – scholar and teacher – is at the heart of Boston University’s mission. Every day across our campus, hundreds of outstanding faculty members live this dual role – both in their respective fields of research and in their classrooms.

This year, we are delighted to honor our own Professor Thomas Gilmore with this award.

The record of accomplishment and recognition achieved by Professor Gilmore through foundational research in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, is perhaps equaled only by the esteem, standard of work, and lifelong passion for scientific inquiry he has inspired among the legions of students and junior colleagues he’s taught and mentored throughout his 27-year career at Boston University.

In the words of his nominator, Tom Gilmore “has had a major impact as a scholar, teacher and mentor… and is fully engaged and strongly committed to improving all the BU programs in which he’s involved.”

His students are no less effusive.

A reading of their course evaluations finds frequent mention of words like “enthusiastic,” “energetic,” “knowledgeable,” and “easily approachable.” “I always enjoy [his] classes,” one student writes. “He obviously loves what he teaches, which makes me want to love it too.”

Another slightly more sanguine student writes, and I’m quoting, “OMG. He is a legend. His explanations are always super-helpful and he takes time to talk to each and every one of us. And man, it’s not exactly a small class. Hands down, the best lab professor ever!”

While we may not use those exact words in our own evaluations of our faculty, one thing resonates through both Professor Gilmore’s body of work and the comments of colleagues and those he has helped to develop into world-class scientists themselves.

And that is the outsized impact he has had within the fields of cell and molecular biology and within BU.

Tom Gilmore is a Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences, an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics in the School of Medicine, and Director of Boston University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Recognized internationally for his research into special proteins that help to regulate the immune system, Professor Gilmore’s work has helped us to better understand and control the cellular origins of cancer, arthritis, chronic inflammation, asthma, neurodegenerative diseases, and heart disease.

He has been honored by the American Cancer Society for his contributions in research, and regularly funded since 1987 by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia Society of America, among others.

Professor Gilmore’s popular Carcinogenesis and Molecular Biology Lab courses are celebrated by students as much for their innovation and rigor as for their hands-on approach to teaching that at once brings color to the often black-and-white of textbook pages and seems to intuitively recognize the individual learning style and uniqueness of each student.

This thirst for continual discovery and motivating others to realize their potential has driven Professor Gilmore’s tireless direction of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Under his leadership, UROP has more than tripled in size since 2007, providing opportunities to more than 1,000 undergraduates and securing coveted external awards to support undergraduate research, including the Beckman Scholars Program and a continuing NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Award.

A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Gilmore earned his PhD in Zoology from UC Berkeley and did his post-Doc work at the University of Wisconsin before arriving at BU.

He’s served on editorial boards for numerous top journals and directed the research of some 80 undergraduates, 39 Master’s students, and 21 PhD candidates, many of whom today hold prominent positions in industry and academia.

A winner of the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, Professor Gilmore has been listed in the Who’s Who of Science & Engineering in America every year since 1993, and in 2009 received BU’s Metcalf Cup & Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

As so many of us know, however, Professor Gilmore’s greatest prize doesn’t rest in a trophy case or occupy a line of a CV. It instead lives on in the successes and enduring appreciation for science those who’ve learned under him have carried with them throughout their academic and professional careers.

It is for this reason, and in recognition of his deep commitment to scholarship and dedication to his students, that I am delighted to honor Professor Thomas Gilmore as the recipient of the 2014 United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award.