The News Service
Banchoff and Raaflaub Named Royce Professors of Teaching Excellence
Thomas Banchoff, professor of mathematics, and Kurt Raaflaub, The David Herlihy University Professor and professor of classics and history, have been appointed to three-year terms as Royce Family Professors of Teaching Excellence.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two veteran Brown University faculty members have received one of the University’s highest honors for innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching.
Thomas Banchoff, professor of mathematics, and Kurt Raaflaub, The David Herlihy University Professor and professor of classics and history, will serve three-year terms as Royce Family Professors of Teaching Excellence, through June 30, 2008. Barrymore A. Bogues, Sheila Bonde and Karen Fischer – the three inaugural Royce Professors named last year – will continue their appointments.
“Between them, Professors Banchoff and Raaflaub have given Brown University students nearly seven decades of extraordinary instruction, encouragement and mentoring,” said Rajiv Vohra, dean of the faculty. “We honor them for the thoughtfulness and adaptability they have brought to their teaching – incorporating new instructional technologies, broadening perspectives by reaching across departmental boundaries, and enriching the academic experience of their students by bringing the achievements of their scholarly excellence into the classroom.”
The Royce Family Professorships were established in March 2004 by a $5.5-million gift from Brown alumnus and trustee Charles M. Royce. The professorships are intended to recognize, reward and encourage innovation and excellence in teaching among the Brown University faculty. Each carries a $20,000 annual stipend in addition to the recipient’s regular salary and provides a $20,000 annual teaching excellence fund to develop teaching aids and support scholarly activities, including employment of undergraduate assistants. Each Royce Professor will offer a colloquium that provides insight into his or her teaching approach or scholarly interests.
Thomas Banchoff is a distinguished mathematician and has been a popular and innovative teacher for nearly 40 years at Brown. He has served as president of the Mathematical Association of America and he serves on the MAA’s Board of Governors. In 2004, he received the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholar.
A pioneer in the use of computer graphics in mathematics education, Banchoff’s innovations in teaching geometry and the fourth dimension are famous among generations of Brown students and beyond the campus. He has made instructional films about the fourth dimension that explain this area of geometry with astounding clarity. Students continue to praise his teaching. He offers a range of courses on topics in mathematics from “The Mathematical Way of Thinking,” for the general student population, to “Honors Multivariable Calculus” and “Non-Euclidean Geometry.” He has successfully transmitted his enthusiasm for mathematics to legions of undergraduate students.
A respected scholar of international reputation, Kurt Raaflaub has excelled in teaching undergraduates. He has introduced new courses, re-shaped the curriculum and provided extraordinary attention and advice to students. His courses often include a Near Eastern, Meso-American, early Chinese, Hebrew or Egyptian perspective – an unusually wide range for a classicist. As participant and director of the Program in Ancient Studies, Raaflaub initiated an annual lecture series to bring various experts on the pre-modern world to campus. He has also reached out to faculty in other departments, encouraging them to revise some courses to include a comparative component so that they could be taught jointly as part of the ancient studies curriculum. An example is Professor Mary Louise Gill’s “Myth and the Origins of Science,” which now considers ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian as well as Greek and Roman texts.
Raaflaub’s 2004 book, The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece, was awarded the American Historical Association’s James Henry Breasted Prize “for the best book in English in any field of history prior to 1000 AD.” He is a member of the German Archaeological Institute and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Philological Association.