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Updated 2:00 PM January 19, 2004



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Lecture dates set for Distinguished University Professors

Leaders in the fields of Latin American studies, psychology and law, music composition, and genetics will deliver the Distinguished University Professorship Lectures this spring.

All the speeches will be given at 4 p.m. at the Rackham Amphitheatre, followed by a reception at 5 p.m. in Assembly Hall.

Rebecca Scott, Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and professor of law, will deliver a lecture titled "Degrees of Freedom: Building Citizenship in the Shadow of Slavery," Feb. 10

Phoebe Ellsworth, Frank Murphy Distinguished University Professor of Law and Psychology, will deliver a lecture on "American Attitudes Towards the Death Penalty, 1950-2004," 'Feb. 17

Bright Sheng, Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music Composition, will deliver a lecture entitled "The Silver River" April 6

Dr. David Ginsburg, James V. Neel Distinguished University Professor of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis Professor of Medicine, professor of human genetics and internal medicine, Howard Hughes Investigator, and Life Sciences Institute charter faculty member, will deliver the lecture "To Bleed or Not to Bleed, That is the Question" April 13.

Scott is best known for her groundbreaking publications on slavery, race and the law in post-emancipation Cuba, Brazil and the United States. In 1990 she received the MacArthur Prize Fellowship, and in 2002 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also has been named a Thurnau Professor for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Scott (Photo by Gregory Fox)

Scott was the founding director of the Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, helping to put U-M prominently on the map in this area, her award citation says. She was chair of the Department of History from 1996-99, and she currently serves as director of graduate studies in history.

She "is one of the foremost" historians of Latin America in the country and "is also a dedicated and inspired mentor of graduate students and young historians across the country," LSA Dean Terrence McDonald wrote in a letter recommending Scott for the Distinguished University Professorship.

Scott says, "It is an honor to bear the title of the Charles Gibson Professorship. Charles Gibson was a towering figure in the scholarly study of colonial Latin America. His masterwork, 'Aztecs Under Spanish Rule,' traced the interaction of Spaniards and indigenous people in the Valley of Mexico, and demonstrated the richness of a micro-historical approach and of ethnographic methods in examining the impact of colonialism.

"His meticulous reconstruction of village life and belief systems has served as an inspiration to scholars from many disciplines, including those who work on other regions and on a later time period."

Ellsworth is an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher who has achieved international recognition for her achievements in the fields of psychology and law, her citation says. She was one of the first psychologists to undertake a detailed and thorough analysis of the relation between cognition and emotion, uniting two fields that had been considered entirely separate.

Ellsworth (Photo by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

Her research has examined areas including jury behavior, eyewitness reliability, the application of social science data to judicial decision-making, and issues related to the death penalty.

"Ever since her arrival, she has brought honor and distinction to the University," then-Law School Dean 'Jeffrey Lehman wrote in his letter nominating Ellsworth for the Distinguished University Professorship. "I continue to meet scholars in the most varied settings imaginable who know and admire her work."

"I feel quite undeserving of this honor, and grateful to all the colleagues, teachers and students who made it possible," Ellsworth says. "Frank Murphy was mayor of Detroit, governor of Michigan, attorney general of the United States and a justice of the Supreme Court. In all of his roles, he was extremely sympathetic to social science and empirical evidence, and a fierce opponent of intolerance.

"He believed that crime was more the result of bad circumstances and bad luck than of bad character, and that reform was possible. In Korematsu, the case permitting the removal of Japanese citizens to camps, he wrote a powerful dissent, looking to the actual facts and arguing that there was no evidence that these citizens were dangerous. In his respect for social science, he unites my two fields of psychology and law, and his values have guided me for many years."

Sheng is a prolific and highly regarded composer whose style merges Western influences with customs drawn from his Chinese heritage, his citation says.

Sheng (Photo by Wah Lui)

"He is immensely skillful in his orchestrations bridging, as he does, East and West using both historical and contemporary themes to create a distinctive compositional voice," School of Music Dean Karen Wolff said in a letter recommending Sheng for the Distinguished University Professorship.

In 2001, Sheng received a prestigious MacArthur Foundation award, with its no-strings-attached monetary grant of $500,000 over five years. He has received many other national awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

One of Sheng's operas was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in summer 2002, and a second opera, "Madame Mao," was performed in Santa Fe last year. Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma has performed some of Sheng's works and speaks highly of his compositions.

Sheng says, "I am truly humbled being named as the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor.

"Leonard Bernstein had a very close relationship with this University and was one of my most important mentors when I first arrived in this country from Shanghai 22 years ago. In my opinion, his greatest contribution to humanity was being a great teacher—he taught all the time, whether he was conducting, composing or lecturing. I am thrilled that I can build my teaching experience on what I have learned from him and pass that on to my students."

Ginsburg is recognized widely as the world leader in the area of genetic disorders of blood coagulation. He recently discovered the genetic basis for a life-threatening clotting disorder.

Ginsburg (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

Ginsburg has received numerous awards for scientific achievement internationally, is the editor of noted scholarly texts and co-author of one of the leading textbooks in medical genetics, and has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

His accomplishments "are not only the stuff of legend among his peers, but set standards of excellence unreachable by all but a few in the academic world," Dr. Stephen Weiss, the E. Gifford and Love Barnett Upjohn Professor of Internal Medicine and Oncology, and division chief, Molecular Medicine and Genetics at the Department of Internal Medicine, wrote in a letter recommending Ginsburg for the Distinguished University Professorship.

"Needless to say, I am deeply touched and profoundly honored by this award and this recognition by the University of Michigan," Ginsburg says. "It was a particular honor and pleasure to be able to name the professorship. The choice for me was an obvious one and a special pleasure and privilege.

"James V. Neel is often recognized as the father of the field of human genetics in the U.S. and clearly the founder of this area of research at the University of Michigan. Dr. Neel started the original Heredity Clinic at Michigan, the first human genetics clinic of its kind in the country. Among his innumerable contributions to genetics, Jim reported one of the best genetic characterizations of a family with von Willebrand Disease—a key interest of my research group."

The Board of Regents also has approved the naming of two new Distinguished University Professors, effective Jan. 1, 2004.

They are Don Chaffin, the Richard G. Snyder Distinguished University Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering; and Melvin Hochster, the Jack E. McLaughlin Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics, LSA. Their lectures will take place in the next academic year.

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