U of C’s own deadly septet

By Ruth Davenport

In the dog-eat-dog world of research awards, seven University of Calgary professors just received a leg up.

Drs. Susan Bennett, Len Bruton, Richard Cleve, Curtis Eaton, Edna Einsiedel, Marcelo Epstein and Patrick Lee are the inaugural recipients of the U of C Professorships award program, designed to complement the federally-funded Canada Research Chairs program and to aid in retaining top quality researchers and professors.

“It’s very prestigious to be named a recipient,” said U of C Associate Vice-President Research Dr. Raj Rangayyan. “It’s a new program, but because of the selection process and the emphasis on quality, the title carries a significant prestige.”

The program is supported by funding announced in February 2001 by the provincial government targeted for faculty retention and recruitment. Between $15,000 and $30,000 will be provided over five years to each recipient, named after a rigorous selection process involving three levels of assessment.

“The professors are nominated by their departments through a selection process within the department,” explained Rangayyan. “Then there is a second level of assessment within the faculty and a third assessment that is university-wide, so it’s a highly competitive process.”

Bruton, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, explained that the intra-university selection pool heightened the privilege associated with the appointment.

“One works hard to establish a reputation in the international arena,” he said. “But when your own colleagues make this selection from such a broad panel, you feel very privileged.”

Fellow appointee Cleve, of Computer Science, pointed out other benefits of the award.

“I’ll be able to take advantage of these resources to further my work,” he said. “For quantum computing, my particular area, this will permit me to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”

Bruton also enthused over the classroom benefits.

“The approved plan is for the recipients to teach a new course in Ideas, Science and Innovation in the Faculty of Communication and Culture,” he explained. “I’ve never taught non-science innovations, so I’m very excited at the prospect of teaching innovation in a multi-disciplinary setting.”

Rangayyan emphasized that undergraduate students will also benefit from the professorship awards.

“Students should appreciate that all these university professors will be teaching,” he said. “They will be given a slightly lower teaching load, but they will be teaching at the undergraduate level. One of the priorities of the university is that the benefit of research and the high standing of our titled professors be made available to students through teaching.”

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