Recognizing Academic Achievement: Slotkin, Hsu, Fins

In the last few days I heard about three major academic awards garnered by members of the Wes family. The first went to an emeritus faculty for a lifetime of scholarly contributions; the second went to a recent graduate whose achievement and promise are remarkable by any standard; the third went to an alumnus and former trustee whose work on medical ethics is having a profound effect on his professional and our public life.

This past weekend Richard Slotkin (Olin Professor of English, Emeritus) was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This society, founded during the revolutionary period, has as its mission “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” Richard Slotkin is one of the founding figures in American Studies, and his work on politics, popular culture and myth has played a decisive role in shaping our understanding of how the idea of the frontier shaped American self-consciousness. A cultural critic of insight and wit, he has also written novels, such as the recent The Crater. At Wesleyan he helped create the American Studies Program and was a stellar contributor to Film Studies. Richie has long inspired students, faculty and readers, and you can see his film class on Westerns at iTunes University.

Chia Wei “Wade” Hsu ’10 has won the LeRoy Apker Award of the American Physical Society for his extraordinary undergraduate work in physics. Wade graduated in the spring after four years as a Freeman Scholar. He was a member of Francis Starr’s theoretical/computational physics group, and, as Brian Stewart recently told me, rapidly established himself as a force of nature, publishing five papers while an undergraduate, including a paper each in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Physical Review Letters, the most prestigious journals in physics. Wade received the award by competing against students from Ph.D.-granting institutions.  That means that Wade was chosen over students from, among other places, Harvard, Caltech, MIT and Princeton. Francis Starr calls him the “best of the best.” While at Wesleyan, he was also involved with the East Asian Studies Center, studied languages, tutored and played lots of music. Wade has begun his graduate work at Harvard this year. (I hope he’s not too bored.)

I met Joe Fins when he served as a trustee on the presidential search committee in 2007. Joe is a COL grad who has served alma mater with energy and distinction. He is also a physician and professor of medicine, authoring more than 200 publications in medical ethics and health policy. Joe was just elected to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, powerful recognition of his remarkable contributions. He is a professor at Cornell Medical College, President-Elect of the American Society for  Bioethics and Humanities, a Governor of the American College of Physicians  and a member of the Hastings Center Board of Trustees.

We know there is great work being done all around the campus. It’s especially gratifying to see these accomplishments recognized at the highest levels!

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One thought on “Recognizing Academic Achievement: Slotkin, Hsu, Fins

  1. Dear President Roth:
    You write above that “Wade received the award by competing against students from Ph.D.-granting institutions.” Please rephrase that as “much larger Ph.D.-granting institutions.” (What do you think our graduate students in math, sciences and ethnomusicology are working on? Chopped liver? ) More important, I expect Wade benefited, as many Wesleyan undergraduate researchers do, from the presence of a small number of graduate students modeling top level research alongside their faculty mentors.

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