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Four professors named MacVicar fellows

Sanyal, Schuh, Verghese and Winston honored for undergraduate teaching excellence
The four MacVicar fellows for 2011 were honored at a reception at Gray House on March 8. Top row: Bishwapriya (Bish) Sanyal, left, and Patrick Winston. Bottom row: Christopher Schuh, left, and George Verghese.
The four MacVicar fellows for 2011 were honored at a reception at Gray House on March 8. Top row: Bishwapriya (Bish) Sanyal, left, and Patrick Winston. Bottom row: Christopher Schuh, left, and George Verghese.
Photo: Dominick Reuter

Four professors have been named 2011 MacVicar Faculty Fellows for their outstanding undergraduate teaching, mentoring and educational innovation. This year's honorees are Bishwapriya (Bish) Sanyal, of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Christopher Schuh, of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and George Verghese and Patrick Winston, both of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

There are now 38 current members of the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program, which was established in 1992 to honor the life and devotion to teaching excellence of Margaret MacVicar '64, ScD '67, MIT's first dean for undergraduate education and founder of UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program). The 10-year fellowship provides an annual allowance to support faculty undergraduate teaching efforts.

Provost L. Rafael Reif formally announced the honorees to the MIT faculty during a reception at Gray House on Tuesday, March 8.

"It is certainly in the spirit of Margaret MacVicar's commitment to students that we award these prestigious fellowships and recognize the creative efforts of MIT's outstanding teachers," Reif said. "This year's fellows are deeply committed advisors and mentors, they have led important curriculum changes and made significant contributions to programs in student life."

The provost's advisory committee, which assists the provost in selecting new fellows, is chaired by Daniel Hastings, dean for undergraduate education, and includes faculty and students.

To celebrate undergraduate education on MacVicar Day, March 9, there will be a panel discussion, titled "Energy Education Showcase: Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders" from 2:30-4 p.m. in 32-155. The panel will discuss MIT's new energy studies minor and include faculty members who teach courses in the program. The event is open to the entire MIT community.

Bishwapriya (Bish) Sanyal

Sanyal received his BS in architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1972, his MS in urban planning from the University of Kansas in 1976 and his PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1984.

He joined the MIT faculty in 1984 after previously working for the World Bank, and served as the head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 1994 to 2002 and chair of the MIT faculty from 2007 to 2009. Sanyal, currently the Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, also directs the SPURS/Hubert Humphrey program at MIT for mid-career professionals.

One colleague, in nominating Sanyal, said he excelled at "stimulating new ideas, creating collaborative initiatives and contributing to the MIT culture and educational experience."

Christopher Schuh

Schuh earned his BS in materials science and engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, and his PhD in materials science and engineering from Northwestern in 2001. Currently the Danae and Vasilios Salapatas Associate Professor of Metallurgy, Schuh will become a full professor effective July 1.

Schuh joined MIT as an assistant professor in 2002, and since then has taught key subjects in the undergraduate and graduate core areas of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE). Students describe his lecture style as fun, engaging, energetic and informative. In nominating Schuh, one undergraduate wrote that he "succeeds at being engaging and encouraging class participation," and has "a sincere interest in my academic and career success."

George Verghese

A professor of electrical engineering, Verghese has been part of the MIT faculty since 1979. He received his BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1974; his MS from the State University of New York, Stony Brook in 1975; and his PhD from Stanford University in 1979, all in electrical engineering.

He has had a broad educational impact in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science through his role on the Curriculum Innovation Committee and as education officer for many years. He has taught a range of courses, and in recent years has been involved in the evolution of the "header" course in communication, control and signal processing.

His nominators say Verghese is especially skilled at finding ways to explain complex and challenging material clearly: "Amazing blackboard technique! This guy can draw a line intersecting a surface in 7D space. His lectures are very clear and his notes are even better," wrote one undergraduate student.

Patrick Winston '65, SM '67, PhD '70

Winston received his SB in electrical engineering in 1965; his SM in electrical engineering in 1967; and his PhD in computer science in 1970, all from MIT. Currently the Ford Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, Winston has been with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory — formerly the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory — since 1967. He joined the faculty in 1970, and was the director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 1972 to 1997.

His lectures are noted for illuminating the patterns of thought that led to the ideas he is presenting. One undergraduate wrote that Winston's teaching excellence stemmed from "passion, hard work and innovation. His lectures were well prepared…we could see him practicing before lectures on the blackboards outside of class. And he learned the names of every student in 6.034 (nearly 150!)."

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