|Three professors will receive UND's highest faculty honor|
Three University of North Dakota professors will be named Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors, UND’s highest honor for faculty, at Spring Commencement Saturday, May 10, at 1:30 p.m.in the Alerus Center.
Recipients are Michael Gaffey, professor of space studies; Thomas Mohr, professor and chair of physical therapy; and Kevin Young, professor of microbiology and immunology.
The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorships are named after one of UND’s first major benefactors, Chester Fritz. A self-made millionaire who made his fortune in silver and other commodities in China, Fritz several times remembered his alma mater with significant gifts, including $1 million each for the Chester Fritz Auditorium and Chester Fritz Library, as well as other gifts. Some of those funds were set aside to honor high-achieving faculty. The full list of Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors is at www.und.edu/dept/our/cfdp .
The work of Michael Gaffey exemplifies the principle that scholarly endeavors generate great excitement and opportunities for students. His accomplishments as a scholar in the field of planetary sciences are widely recognized at the highest national levels. In 2006, he was presented both the Leonard Medal from the Meteoritic Society and the Gilbert Award from the Geological Society of America. At the 2007 Founders Day banquet, he was presented the UND Foundation/Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Research.
“Professor Gaffey’s enthusiasm for discovering new knowledge in very evident in his instructional activities,” wrote one nominator. “Many students are enamored by his vast expertise in the
planetary sciences field, and easily sense his genuine interest in disseminating new knowledge.” Another nominator observed, “Dr. Gaffey contributes much of his success to his students, providing an enormously stimulating learning environment for each of them.”
Gaffey earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology at the Universityof Iowaand his Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a faculty member in UND’s Department of Space Studies since 2001. He previously taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked as a scientist and team member with numerous endeavors, including NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft mission, the New YorkCenterfor Studies of the Origin of Life, and the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics at the Universityof Hawaii.
Gaffey has more than 95 publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals as well as nearly 250 abstracts. He has received more than $8 million in external support for his projects.
Tom Mohr has developed UND’s physical therapy program into one with a strong national reputation and highly competitive admissions. He led the department in implementing a doctoral degree program.
Mohr has been a faculty member in the department since 1978 and its chair since 1993. He earned his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from UND and his master’s degree from the Universityof Minnesota.
Dozens of nominators testified to Mohr’s effectiveness and dedication as a teacher, colleague, and professional. This comment from a graduate was typical: “His personal touch to the overall program is immeasurable. He encouraged me to strive beyond what I thought was achievable.” Other practicing physical therapists cited Mohr’s extensive work on professional boards, licensure testing, credentialing, regulation, and continuing education.
Even with these responsibilities, Mohr has compiled a significant record of research, publications and presentations. He has also been recognized for his extensive involvement in campus affairs, and for his patience, insights and good humor.
A nominator summed up, “Tom Mohr is one of those individuals who every educational institution needs and should recognize. He is admired and respected by students, by his faculty, and by his peers. He provides diligent and wise counsel to those who rely on him. He is enormously engaged in service to his profession.”
Kevin Young joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 1984. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Texas Tech and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the Universityof Oklahoma. He did postdoctoral work at Texas A&M and the Universityof California, Berkeley, before coming to UND.
Young is an internationally recognized authority on the bacterial cell wall, the forces and influences that determine its shape, and how that shape relates to function. “His reputation is such,” a nominator observed, “that only a few years ago, one of the other world authorities — Dr. Miguel dePedro — came from Spainto Kevin’s lab to study and work with him for a year.” Young’s expertise has led to invitations to present his findings at international conferences and institutions such as Princeton University and the Harvard Medical School.
A highly productive scientist, Young has obtained nearly $4 million in direct costs, with much of his support coming from the highly competitive National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. He has published over 40 full-length papers and 12 book chapters and reviews based on his work at UND. He is now in his second six-year term on the editorial board of the Journal of Bacteriology, the leading international journal in the field.
Even with his extensive research and service involvement, Young is highly regarded as a teacher and colleague. Students have praised the clarity, enthusiasm and humor he brings to his lectures. One student remarked, “Dr. Young seems to be a talking brain at times, in a good way!” He is proud to represent the University and North Dakota, and to share the wonders of science with audiences of all ages.