Professors given highest University honor

At the Sept. 13 Board of Regents meeting , University President Bob Bruininks and board members presented four faculty members with the award of RegentsâÄô professor, acknowledging them for their research and commitment to the University. The title of RegentsâÄô professor is the highest award the University gives to its faculty. Recipients receive a $30,000 per-year research stipend and an extra $20,000 per year in salary compensation for as long as they stay at the University. The honor is given to distinguished faculty each year. Allen Goldman Physics professor Allen Goldman said he was elated when Bruininks called him to share the news. He had worked with other RegentsâÄô professors in his department, but said he wasnâÄôt expecting this. Goldman is the head of the School of Physics and Astronomy and works primarily with experimental condensed-matter physics . He has advised more than 50 doctoral students, and his work with magnetic superconductors has been incorporated into MRI technology. Though he has just received the UniversityâÄôs highest distinction, Goldman said he plans to step down from his position as department head and pursue more of his academic goals. âÄúOne of the things IâÄôve not been able to do is lead groups of people on collaborative research,âÄù he said. Eric Sheppard Professor of geography Eric Sheppard was one of three College of Liberal Arts professors to receive the award this year. Born in England and constantly traveling, he said his international background helps in his duties as a geography professor. Sheppard specializes in analysis of free trade, ways in which economics tie into geography and how urban policy is shaping global ideas. At the regents meeting, Bruininks praised Sheppard as a âÄútowering intellect, a universally admired educator and a highly respected leader.âÄù Steven Ruggles Though few students know it, the University is home to the largest collection of census data in the world. The Minnesota Population Center has collected, computerized and made available the records of millions of Americans dating back to 1850. Professor Steven Ruggles is the CenterâÄôs director and another RegentsâÄô professor award winner. Currently, the bulk of RugglesâÄô work focuses on the history of the family. HeâÄôs interested in how marriage, separation and divorce affect family demographics. Ruggles collaborates with 80 statistical offices around the world to integrate data across time and between countries. He is also working quickly to save endangered data before it is lost forever. âÄúWe spend a lot of time trying to recover old census data before it disappears.âÄù he said. âÄúIn some cases, thatâÄôs from original paper or microfilm manuscripts.âÄù Ruggles was thankful for the award and recognition but is also concerned with his future work, he said. He noted that the $30,000 research fund is much more fluid than most other grants, which are often time-sensitive and come with strings attached. With so much devoted to the Minnesota Population Center, Ruggles only has time to teach one undergraduate course per year. Next spring he will offer a history course centered on the history of population. Madelon Sprengnether English professor Madelon Sprengnether was vacationing in Brasov, Romania when Bruininks contacted her about the award. Back from âÄúDracula country,âÄù she said the honor still hasnâÄôt fully sunk in. Sprengnether is active in the English departmentâÄôs Master of Fine Arts program and teaches undergraduate courses each semester. She is currently involved in creative writing, specifically memoir writing. Interests in feminism, Freud and psychoanalysis have allowed her to combine her academics with her passion. âÄúMy scholarly interests have intersected with my interest in memoir writing because of all of the new information coming out about how memory functions,âÄù she said. Each RegentsâÄô professor has big plans for the future, but complacency isnâÄôt one of them. Sprengnether said the research stipend will allow her to move faster through her future projects. âÄúI feel like I have a lot to give to the University still in my life and this award makes me want to work harder,âÄù she said.