Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Conforth receives Golden Apple teaching award

A cluster of singing students walked into an American Culture class with a handful of maize-and-blue balloons Wednesday afternoon to congratulate Bruce Conforth, the latest recipient of the Golden Apple Award.

  Bruce Conforth

Conforth, a graduate of Indiana University, has been a lecturer in the Department of American Culture since 2001. Focusing predominantly on music, he has taught courses ranging from post-World War II American subcultural groups to American blues music, as well as American popular music.

Upon hearing the news, Conforth stood silently in front of his class for a few minutes, looking at the students and shaking his head.

"I don't know everyone who is responsible for this, but it is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Thank you," said Conforth, who was one of the first people to curate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Organized by Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching (S.H.O.U.T.), supported by U-M Hillel and Apple Inc., and co-sponsored by more than 30 university departments and programs, the annual Golden Apple Award honors faculty members who continuously strive to spread knowledge as well as inspire and engage their students. It is the only teaching award at U-M given by students.

Inspiring the concept of the award was Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos, a teacher of Jewish tradition more than 18 centuries ago, who said, "Get your life in order one day before you die."

Following along with the idea to live every day as if it was their last, the Golden Apple Award recipients are asked to give the lecture they would want to give if they thought it would be the last one of their teaching careers.

The topic of Conforth's Golden Apple lecture will be revealed on March 28. His lecture is planned for April 4 at Rackham Auditorium. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.