U-M honors Six Faculty Members with Thurnau Professorships

By Safiya Merchant

The University Record

Six faculty members have been honored for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education as this year's recipients of Arthur F. Thurnau Professorships.

This year's Thurnau professors, approved Thursday by the Board of Regents and effective July 1, are Evelyn A. Alsultany, Valeria M. Bertacco, Deborah E. Goldberg, Mark B. Moldwin, J. Logan Skelton and Donald R. Zak.

Criteria for Thurnau professorships include a strong commitment to students and to teaching and learning, excellence in teaching, innovations in teaching and learning, a strong commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body, a demonstrable impact on students' intellectual or artistic development, and contributions to undergraduate education beyond the classroom, studio or lab.

The professorships are named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and are supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust. Recipients receive $20,000 to support teaching activities, including travel, books, equipment and graduate student support.

Descriptions of the recipients' work are taken from recommendations provided to the regents by Interim Provost Paul Courant. The appointments are titles the six will retain throughout their U-M careers.

The classroom of Alsultany, director of Arab and Muslim American Studies in the Department of American Culture, and associate professor of American culture, LSA, is described as a space where differences are productively explored by grappling with nuanced scholarship and critical conversations.

She is a university leader in discussions about the role of race and religion on and off campus.

As one of her students writes, "She has a way of making every student feel seen."

Alsultany launched an American culture internship program that gives students the opportunity to gain practical experiences for their careers while also serving their communities.

Alsultany created the Islamophobia Working Group — a group of faculty, staff and students working to improve campus climate for students targeted by anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments. It provides support, resources and guidance for building inclusive classrooms and policies.

See full article here.