10 from NU elected to join Academy

Amy Hamblin

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern had the second highest number of faculty members elected to join the elite American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year with 10 NU scholars inducted.

Along with the other 50 NU faculty members already in the academy, they will discuss and study issues of national importance with colleagues from universities around the country. The academy — founded in 1780 and now claiming more than 4,500 members — meets several times per year to discuss social policy.

“It’s an extraordinary success,” said University Provost Lawrence Dumas. “It speaks well for our faculty.”

Since the academy incorporates almost all fields of study, Dumas added that NU’s large representation demonstrates the university’s wide variety of scholarship.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology had the most inductees this year with 11. NU tied with Harvard University for second.

From the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, linguistics Prof. Janet Pierrehumbert, Morrison Professor of chemistry Richard Van Duyne, psychology Prof. Dedre Gentner, and Board of Trustees chairman and mathematics Prof. Yuri Manin received appointments.

From NU’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Associate Vice President for Research Gary Borisy and Prof. James Jameson were elected.

Performance studies Prof. Mary Zimmerman in the School of Communication and Music studies Prof. Paul Berliner from the School of Music also were honored.

Medill School of Journalism Dean Loren Ghiglione was recognized in addition to Mark Satterthwaite, the Earl Dean Howard professor of management and strategy at NU’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

The academics were elected April 30, along with 202 others from throughout the U.S. They will be following in the tradition of past members such as George Washington, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.

The NU faculty elected this year are not only leaders in their fields but also at NU. Ghiglione said he was surprised to learn of his election to the organization because of his short time in the academic world.

“It was a special pleasure to find out,” Ghiglione said. “It’s always helpful to have positive recognition. There’s enough negative recognition in our society.”

Despite the prestige of the membership, some of the faculty elected this year aren’t sure what joining the academy will entail.

“I got a lot of e-mail messages saying congratulations but I didn’t know what it was,” said Zimmerman, a performance studies professor. “I’m not totally not up on the Academy of Arts and Sciences.”

Other newly elected members shared in Zimmerman’s surprise because electees do not apply individually for membership. Rather, NU faculty who already are members of the academy nominate prospective inductees. All members of the academy vote then on new members.

Nevertheless, Zimmerman said it was a pleasant surprise because she has a hard time viewing herself as being a part of such an illustrious group.

“It’s nice for someone like me to be in big, fancy society like this,” she said.

Even incoming NU Graduate School Dean Andrew Wachtel has yet to participate in any of the group’s projects since being elected to the academy in 2003.

“It’s more honorific than anything,” said Wachtel, who now serves as chairman of NU’s department of Slavic languages and literatures. “It doesn’t cause you to do a lot of things.”

Although he is pleased with this record-breaking year for NU, Wachtel said he believes the number elected this year is inflated because NU faculty went unrecognized for so long.

“These are extremely strong colleagues,” Wachtel said. “For a number of years the university didn’t make a real effort to get people nominated. To a certain extent it’s a back log now.”