April 01, 2011 — Croal Gables — In a ceremony that honored their outstanding academic achievements and stellar service to the University, the Faculty Senate on March 29 honored Charles S. Carver, Richard J. Thurer, and Steven G. Ullmann, three UM faculty members who represent more than a century of institutional knowledge and experience.
Calling himself a “journeyman thoracic surgeon,” Miller School physician Richard J. Thurer stood at the podium inside the University of Miami’s Storer Auditorium and recounted some of the high points of his almost four decades of service to the institution, from teaching students to sitting on various medical school committees.
But of all Thurer’s recollections, it was his memories of service on the Faculty Senate for which he reserved some of his most esteemed remarks.
“Service on the Senate broadened my acquaintances across the University and made me realize the extraordinary number of individuals who have made this University what it has become,” said Thurer, the B. and Donald Carlin Professor of Thoracic Surgical Oncology at the Miller School.
On Tuesday, the Faculty Senate on which Thurer served for 13 years bestowed on him one its highest honors: the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award.
Established in 1987 and named after the co-founder of Burger King and former chair of the UM Board of Trustees, the award recognizes a member of the University community who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to the institution.
“The living embodiment of extraordinary service” is how Sanjoy Bhattacharya, associate professor of ophthalmology, described Thurer. Bhattacharya introduced Thurer at the ceremony, telling an audience of several faculty members, deans, and administrators that Thurer always “chooses his words very wisely.”
In addition to his service on the Senate, Thurer served the Miller School Faculty Council as a member, speaker, and chair of various committees. In 2005 he was named senior associate dean for faculty affairs, and in 2010 became ombudsman, a role many said is fitting because of his quality of listening carefully to his colleagues and providing wise, thoughtful advice.
“Over the years, I’ve basically thought of myself as a journeyman thoracic surgeon, showing up to take care of patients, to teach residents, and do a small part in trying to collaborate to advance ideas. I’ve become convinced that what success I may have achieved is largely the result of showing up. It was Woody Allen who said that 80 percent of success is showing up. I agree. It may be even 90 percent if you show up on time,” Thurer said, eliciting a few chuckles from audience members, including his wife of 45 years, Penny.
“I think it’s well-deserved,” she said of her husband’s award. “He’s put so much into the University over the years. He cares deeply.” The couple met on a blind date in New York in 1965.
“He’s always been older and wiser,” said Robert Thurer, who said he was greatly influenced by his brother, following in his footsteps and becoming a thoracic surgeon himself. “I thought it was interesting how he was characterized as being calm, which is very much the way he is.”
Richard Thurer was one of three faculty members recognized by the Senate during a combined ceremony for its three top awards. Charles S. Carver, a professor of psychology in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, received the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, while Steven G. Ullmann, a professor of management in the School of Business Administration, accepted the Outstanding Teaching Award.
“Great faculty drive the pace of transformation and steer a course towards excellence,” UM President Donna E. Shalala said, praising the honorees for their “wisdom, heart, and courage.”
Using a highly competitive process, committees composed of previous award recipients select the winners of the three awards, the combined ceremony for which “allows us, in one very short time span, to see the very best of the University,” said Richard L. Williamson, professor of law and Faculty Senate chair.
Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, interim dean of the business school, lauded Ullmann for his “tireless work that touches many of us in so many ways.”
Ullmann, who has joint appointments in the Department of Economics and in the Miller School’s Departments of Family Medicine and Community Health and Epidemiology and Public Health, has taught courses in economics, management, and health care policy and administration to both undergraduate and graduate students for more than 30 years.
Despite significant administrative posts throughout his career, including more than 18 years as vice provost for faculty affairs and administration, Ullmann always found time to continue his research while “staying passionate about teaching and being committed to his students,” Sevilla-Sacasa said.
In his humble remarks, Ullmann explained that he has “been truly blessed” by being surrounded by great peers, fellow faculty members, and those who mentored him. “This is really an award to all of you,” he said.
Rod Wellens, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, called Carver one of UM’s most “visible and accomplished scholars.” He noted that Carver continues to teach a popular Introduction to Psychology course, while also still finding the time to hold weekly meetings with graduate students.
Carver’s work spans the areas of personality psychology, social psychology, health psychology, and more recently experimental psychopathology. He is renowned for his work on self-regulation (the goal-directed process that influences people’s actions), a topic on which he lectured at the ceremony. His research also delves into optimism versus pessimism and coping in cancer patients. The National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute support his research.
He has authored nine books and more than 300 articles and chapters, with some 11,000 citations of his work to date, and he is currently associate editor of Psychological Review.
Carver accepted his Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award on behalf of what he called “the finest department at UM.”
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