Finalists Selected for Baylor's $200,000 Cherry Award for Great Teaching

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    Cherry Award finalist: Dr. Edward B. Burger, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Gaudino Scholar, Williams College
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    Cherry Award finalist: Dr. Roger Rosenblatt, Distinguished Professor of English, Stony Brook University
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    Cherry Award finalist: Dr. Elliott West, Alumni Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas
April 24, 2009

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas - Three outstanding scholar/teachers from U.S. universities have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2010 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the single largest award given to an individual for exceptional teaching.

The award winner, who will be announced in spring 2010, will receive $200,000 plus $25,000 for his home department and will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2010 or spring 2011.

The three finalists are:

Dr. Edward B. Burger, Williams College

Dr. Edward B. Burger has taught mathematics at Williams College since 1990. Since that time, he has been honored with numerous teaching awards, including the 2007 Award of Excellence from Technology & Learning magazine, the 2006 Reader's Digest "100 Best of America" as Best Math Teacher, and the 2006 Lester R. Ford Award, the 2004 Chauvenet Prize and the 2001 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College Teaching of Mathematics, all from the Mathematical Association of America.

He is the author or co-author of more than 30 research articles and 21 books and CD-ROM texts, including The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking; Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas; and Extending the Frontiers of Mathematics: Inquiries into Proof and Argumentation. He also is an associate editor for The American Mathematical Monthly and a member-elect of the editorial board for Math Horizons.

Burger also has written and appeared in number of educational videos, including the 24-lecture video series, "Zero to Infinity: A History of Numbers" and "An Introduction to Number Theory." From 2005-2007, he served as a mathematics adviser for the "NUMB3RS in the Classroom Project," with CBS-TV/Paramount Studios/Texas Instruments.

His research interests include algebraic number theory, Diophantine analysis, geometry of numbers, and the theory of continued fractions. He teaches abstract algebra, the art of creating mathematics and Diophantine analysis.

Burger earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics summa cum laude with distinction from Connecticut College in 1985. He received his doctorate in 1990 from the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught or been a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, Westminster College, James Madison University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Macquarie University in Australia.

Dr. Roger Rosenblatt, Stony Brook University

During his distinguished 40-year career as an English professor, author, columnist, essayist and playwright, Dr. Roger Rosenblatt's list of awards and honors includes a Fulbright Scholarship to Ireland, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize, two George Foster Peabody Awards for "distinguished achievement and meritorious public service," five honorary doctorates, two George Polk Awards for journalism and an Emmy Award.

Rosenblatt has published 12 books, including the national bestselling Rules for Aging, Lapham Rising and Children of War, which won the Kennedy Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also has published more than 300 essays and articles, and authored six Off-Broadway plays, with two new plays in rehearsal.

Rosenblatt began his teaching career in 1968 as an assistant professor at Harvard, where he was the youngest House Master in the history of the university. He also has taught at the Columbia School of Journalism, Georgetown University and Long Island University, and in 2005, was The Edward R. Murrow Visiting Professor at Harvard. He joined the Stony Brook faculty in 2006.

Rosenblatt served a term from 1973-75 as director of education at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He then became literary editor of The New Republic and a columnist and essayist for The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, and "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS. He also has served as an editor at U.S.News & World Report, LIFE Magazine and other major national publications, editor-at-large at TIME Inc., and editor-in-chief of Columbia Journalism Review.

Rosenblatt earned his bachelor's degree from New York University in 1962, his master's degree from Harvard in 1963 and his doctorate in English and American literature, also from Harvard, in 1968.

Dr. Elliott West, University of Arkansas

A specialist in the social and environmental history of the American West, Dr. Elliott West is the author of seven books and more than 100 book chapters, articles and book reviews in national history journals and publications.

West has been honored with several national awards for his book, The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado (1998), including the Caughey Prize from the Western History Association, Best Work of Research Non-Fiction by PEN Center USA West, the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, Best Historical Non-Fiction on the West by Western Writers of America, and the Ray Allen Billington Prize from the Organization of American Historians.

West also has won awards for The Way to the West: Essays on the Central Plains (1995) and Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far-Western Frontier (1989). His latest book, The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story, was published this year. He currently is working on a book-length survey of the history of the American West, 1850-1900.

Though his scholarship has been recognized nationally, West also has been honored with several awards for teaching, including the 2001 Charles and Nadine Baum Award as University Teacher of the Year at Arkansas and 1995 Arkansas Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For the past seven years, West has taken part extensively in national programs to bring new approaches and recent research to teaching history in public schools.

West received his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas in 1967 and his master's degree in 1969 and doctorate in 1971, both from the University of Colorado. He also has taught at the University of Colorado at Denver, University of Texas at Arlington and as a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico, before joining the University of Arkansas faculty in 1979.

About the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

The Cherry Award program is designed to honor great teachers, to stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and to encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. Individuals nominated for the award should have a proven record as an extraordinary teacher with a positive, inspiring and long-lasting effect on students, along with a record of distinguished scholarship.

The award was created by Robert Foster Cherry, who earned his A.B. from Baylor in 1929. He enrolled in the Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor students. The first Robert Foster Cherry Award was made in 1991 and has since been awarded biennially.

The Cherry finalists each will receive $15,000 and will present a series of lectures at Baylor during the fall. In addition, each finalist 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.

In addition to the monetary awards presented to each finalist, the winner of the Cherry Award, which will be announced in spring 2010, will receive a final total of $215,000 and $35,000 for his home department.

For more information, contact Linda McGregor at (254) 710-2923 or visit

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