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‘Windows’ series features named professors

5 p.m., Oct. 4, 2004--Windows on The Green, the first four in a series of video shorts celebrating the research and classroom contributions of University of Delaware named professors, were aired for the first time at the General Faculty Meeting on Monday, Oct. 4.

The series marks the endowment of UD’s 100th named professorship. An endowed chair is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive and one of the most important gifts a donor can make to the University.

The 100th professorship, announced at the Monday meeting, has been endowed by David E. Hollowell, University executive vice president and treasurer, and Kathleen Hollowell, director of UD’s Mathematics and Science Educational Resource Center.

See related article:

Named professorships reach 100

The video spots, a collaboration of the University’s media services and public relations units, will give brief looks at the campus careers of UD’s named professors.

The series is available at a special web site: [www.udel.edu/PR/windows].

The first four featured are Debra Hess Norris, Henry Francis du Pont Chair in Fine Arts; James G. Richards, Distinguished Professor of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences; Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy.

Debra Hess Norris
Debra Hess Norris, the Henry Francis du Pont Chair in Fine Arts and chairperson of the Department of Art Conservation, is in demand as one of the world experts in photographic conservation.

Norris, who joined the faculty in 1982, has worked on rare negatives of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early snapshots of the Beatles as a fledgling Liverpool band. She has mentored students who have gone on to work on the Declaration of Independence, moviedom’s original R2-D2, Elvis’ gold records and Rodin’s Thinker.

“They have been instrumental in preserving the culture of America for the education and enrichment of future generations,” Norris said. “It is incredibly rewarding to work with these students and to watch their accomplishments.’’

Every member of Norris’ family has a UD connection. She graduated in 1977 and earned a master’s degree from the Winterthur/UD program she now chairs. Her name was added to UD’s Alumni Wall of Fame in 2002. Her husband, Robert, is a 1977 graduate. Their older daughter, Sarah, graduated last year. Their younger daughter, Maggie, is a current freshman.

The Henry Francis du Pont Chair in Fine Arts, made possible by an endowment provided by the Unidel Foundation, recognizes the founder of Winterthur, an American Country Estate, a showplace of furniture and decorative arts used in the U.S. before 1860 and home to the Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation.

James G. Richards

James Richards, Distinguished Professor of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, is co-founder of UD’s graduate program in biomechanics and movement science. The Human Performance Lab he developed is one of the best-equipped facilities in the world. It is the only lab in the U.S. where researchers can plot the stresses on a figure skater’s legs while the skater is on ice.

Richards, who has consulted on pitching injuries with major league teams, said he has stayed at UD for 25 years because he loves working with graduate students and selected undergraduates here.

“They’re the brightest and most creative people you’re ever going to know,’’ he said. “It’s fun to watch them grow and develop, and, by the time they leave here, they know more than you do.’’

Donald L. Sparks
When students say Donald Sparks supports his students, they mean it—literally.

In 2002, Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources and chairperson of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and his wife Joy, a UD alumna and a Cooperative Extension specialist in the college, endowed the Donald L. and Joy G. Sparks Graduate Fellowship in Soil Science.

Since Sparks came to the University in 1979, the soil science program has evolved from obscurity to a program of national and international stature. As the first American president of the International Union of Soil Sciences in more than 40 years, Sparks has brought greater stature and connections to the soil sciences here.

The endowed chair is named in honor of S. Hallock du Pont, a generous benefactor who supported a professorship and research in animal husbandry at UD for many years.

Leland Ware
Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy, says getting students who have not lived through the civil rights era to understand it is his biggest challenge.

“It is so remote for them,’’ he said. “They often express great surprise at the events that occurred. They have a lot of difficulty believing that these conditions were what they were for African Americans in this country just 20 or 30 years ago.

As a member of the ACLU’s national board, Ware has brought new issues to campus since his arrival in 2000.

“We attract, here at Delaware, very talented students who have strong academic backgrounds,’’ he said. “They will become leaders whether I am connected with it or not, but I hope that I can expose them to things that will form their personalities as leaders.”

As part of UD’s Campaign for Delaware, the Redding Chair was established with more than $1 million in donations from numerous sources, including MBNA America Bank and many other corporations, members of the Delaware bar, government and community groups, churches and individuals. It was created to be a lasting and living memorial to Mr. Redding, who died in 1998 at age 96.

Lawyer Redding, as he was respectfully and universally known in Delaware’s African-American community, was instrumental in a host of cases that transformed the legal and social fabric of the state and the nation. He successfully opened the doors of the University and the Delaware public schools to African Americans and, with Thurgood Marshall, argued and won the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the "separate but equal" system of school desegregation.

Article by Kathy Canavan

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