Finalists Selected for $200,000 Cherry Award for Great Teaching

  • News Photo 2899
  • News Photo 2880
    Dr. Robert W. Brown
  • News Photo 2882
    Dr. William Cook
May 9, 2005

by Julie Carlson

Three noted scholar/teachers have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2006 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The award winner, who will be announced in spring 2006, will receive $200,000 plus $25,000 for his or her home department and will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2006 or spring 2007.

The three finalists are Anton E. Armstrong, Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College; Robert W. Brown, Institute Professor of Physics at Case Western Reserve University; and William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at State University of New York at Geneseo.

Armstrong, who also serves as conductor of the famed St. Olaf's Choir, received a bachelor's of music in vocal performance from St. Olaf College, a master's degree in choral music from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in choral conducting from Michigan State University.

After serving on the faculty at Calvin College, Armstrong returned to St. Olaf in 1990. As conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, he has toured throughout the United States and to Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Central Europe. Together with the St. Olaf Orchestra, the choir also was heard live on a national broadcast of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio program. The choir has recorded 11 CDs during Armstrong's tenure as conductor.

In recent years he has guest conducted such noted ensembles as the Utah Symphony and Symphony Chorus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has collaborated in concert with Bobby McFerrin and Garrison Keillor and is active as a guest conductor and lecturer throughout North America, Europe, Scandinavia, Korea, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.

Armstrong is widely recognized for his work with youth and children's choral music. He began his tenure as conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Youth Choral Academy in June 1998. In the summer of 2001, he served as co-conductor of the World Youth Choir sponsored by the International Federation of Choral Music. He served for more than 20 years on the summer faculty of the American Boychoir School in Princeton, N.J., and was conductor of the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale, a 75-voice treble chorus based in Grand Rapids, Mich., from 1981 to 1990.

Brown received his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and his doctorate in physics from MIT. He joined the Case Western Reserve faculty in 1970 and has served as visiting research scientist at SUNY at Stony Brook, the Fermi National Laboratory and Washington University.

Brown has written more than 150 publications and abstracts, including a well-known textbook in the field of MRI physics, and holds six patents. His diverse research includes MRI, rf thermal ablation and heat equation investigations, nonlinear dynamics, muscle fatigue modeling and sensor development, to name a few.

He is a recipient of two undergraduate teaching awards at Case Western, an Undergraduate Computational Engineering and Science Award from the Department of Energy; a John S. Diekhoff and NE Ohio Council on Higher Education Teaching Award; and the 2004 AAPT Excellence in Undergraduate Physics National Teaching Award.

Of the 16 doctoral thesis students Brown has advised, eight have outstanding industrial careers, four are professors of physics, two are at national laboratories, one is an executive in banking and one is a successful author.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Cook earned his bachelor's degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and his master's degree and doctorate from Cornell University. Concentrating on medieval history, he studied with well-known medievalist Brian Tierney and spent a year conducting his dissertation research in Oxford, Vienna and several cities in the former Czechoslovakia. In 1970, he was appointed assistant professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, and in 1984 at the age of 40, was named Distinguished Teaching Professor.

Cook has focused much of his research on St. Francis of Assisi and has published a short biography and a book about Italian paintings of St. Francis that are housed in the U.S. and a catalogue of all the paintings of Francis. Additionally, he has published articles about medieval monasticism, Dante, The Song of Roland, and the teaching of history and humanities and is co-author with Ron Herzman of The Medieval World View published by Oxford University Press. He also appeared on a Learning Channel documentary on Dante and a Hallmark documentary on St. Francis. Currently, he is working on two articles in the field of American history.

Recognized from the beginning of his career as a good teacher, he received the inaugural Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching at SUNY Geneseo. In 1992, he was named Professor of the Year for the state of New York by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He and Ron Herzman received the first annual CARA Award for excellence in the teaching of medieval studies from the Medieval Academy of America in 2003.

The Cherry finalists each will receive $15,000 and will present a series of lectures at Baylor during the fall. Each will present a Cherry Award Lecture on their home campuses during the upcoming academic year. The home department of the finalists also will receive $10,000 to foster the development of teaching skills.

For more information, contact Linda McGregor at 710-2923.

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