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Five University of Michigan faculty members have been named Arthur F. Thurnau Professors in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to undergraduate education.

Deirdre Leong de la Cruz, Anouck R. Girard, Nicholas C. Henriksen, LaKisha M. Simmons and Sara B. Soderstrom will hold the Thurnau title for the duration of their careers at U-M and will receive $20,000 to support activities that further enhance their teaching.

The Board of Regents approved the Thurnau professors Feb. 15. The appointments are effective July 1.

To become a Thurnau professor, faculty members must demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and learning, excellence and innovation in teaching, and dedication to working effectively with a diverse student body.

They also must have made an impact on students’ intellectual or artistic development and on their lives, and contributed to undergraduate education in ways that extend beyond the classroom, studio or lab.

The Arthur F. Thurnau Professorships were established in 1988. They are named after Thurnau, a U-M student from 1902-04. The Thurnau Charitable Trust, which was established through Thurnau’s will, provides support for the award.

Provost Laurie McCauley presented recommendations for the professorships and descriptions of each professor’s work and achievements to the Board of Regents. These summaries are taken from the provost’s recommendations.

Sara B. Soderstrom

Associate professor of organizational studies, LSA; associate professor of environment and sustainability, School for Environment and Sustainability; associate professor of management and organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

A celebrated teacher and expert on corporations and environmental sustainability, Soderstrom challenges her students to find answers that will allow both businesses and the biosphere to thrive.

She developed several courses and mentored more than 160 students — as research assistants, on independent studies, for honors theses and for applied internship research — while simultaneously earning six different teaching awards.

One student described her teaching as “able to take a notoriously nebulous topic — sustainability — and create structure that was both concrete and provided space for creativity.”

She inaugurated the Erb Undergraduate Fellows Program in 2020, opening to undergraduates an initiative of the Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability that has served master’s degree students for 25 years.