|Fall Convocation 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award Citation for Associate Professor Laurie Heyer
November 02, 2010
Each year Davidson College recognizes a faculty member who by personal influence, teaching, writing, and scholarship promotes the high ideals of Thomas Jefferson. The overriding outstanding quality is described as that of having given of self, "generously and well beyond the call of duty."
Each of us, as faculty, is motivated by a desire to be a fine teacher and to be innovative in our work at Davidson College. By and large, I feel we accord ourselves quite well with the former objective, serving as very fine instructors. The later objective, that of truly being innovative is for most of us a bit more challenging. Fortunately, we have in our midst one who is not only a fine teacher, but a true innovator. The presence and the work of this gifted individual have been transforming, on learning at Davidson College and more broadly in the nation.
As a nominator convincingly wrote: "Jefferson was a renaissance man who was interested in many areas of scholarship, was an inventor and problem-solver, and a citizen who contributed toward a greater good." All who know this fine individual see the same qualities represented in her daily interactions on this campus.
Working with a similarly gifted biologist, she has co-authored a leading undergraduate text, entitled Discovering Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics, 2nd Edition. This trail blazing, interdisciplinary work was done here at Davidson College through this amazing professional collaboration. Beyond her superbly taught courses, she had mentored research students in groups and individually. All have benefitted from her encouragement and expertise in these projects; all have been awed by the power of mathematics to address vexing, and even sometimes fun problems, like eating house lotteries! And, to her everlasting credit, she seeks students of differing abilities and prior accomplishments, looking principally for those who have an interest and willingness to learn.
For six years now, such students, as many as eleven per year, have showcased their abilities at an international competition on genetically engineered machines, hosted at MIT with nearly 150 schools from Princeton to Peking University competing. Again, she working with that biologist, have mentored and assisted our students, proudly watching them capture "gold medals" and first-price places. For most of us, just the thought or the imagination of bacterial computers solving math problems is a challenge. And, note that these accomplishments by our students in competition against the "Princeton's" of the world have been achieved here at Davidson College, that small residential school in the South.
We honor this teaching success and innovation that have enlightened students, energized faculty colleagues, and showcased Davidson College. If the product is not itself overwhelmingly convincing, reflect on the helpful, caring, and humble nature of this producer and director.
Through the generosity of the Kimbrough and King families, the L. Richardson King Pre-tenure Professorship was established in 2003. Without the slightest hesitancy, we turned, following rather rapid reflection, to this honoree, the obvious choice, as one who would honor well the ideals of Richie King. And, daily she lives up to all, and usually much more, of the high expectations that we have for a Davidson faculty member.
In her teaching, whether to a classroom of students, to individuals in her office, or those whom she is mentoring with their research, she is helpful and gracious without fail. Her research agenda is full, and her successes, as mentioned, are notable. Finally, her gifts to community, whether service on college committees, steadfast support offered by Bill and her at nearly every Davidson athletic competition, or quieter work with her church enrich so many within our midst. Today, with gratitude, and with a bit of admiring awe, quite frankly, we salute you.
And, now I ask those in this assembly to join me in congratulating our 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award recipient, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Dr. Laurie Heyer.
Clark G. Ross
Dean of Faculty