May 24, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 17

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    Alumni Association gives annual Maclean faculty award

    Named for Professor Norman Maclean (Ph.D., ’40), who taught English at Chicago for 40 years, the Norman Maclean Alumni Awards recognize emeritus or very senior faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching and to the student experience of life on campus.

    They have been given to members of the faculty since 1997, and this year’s awards will be given to Norman Bradburn (A.B., ’52), the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Psychology, and Karl Weintraub (A.B., ’49, A.M., ’52, Ph.D., ’57), the Thomas E. Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor in History. The two professors will be honored at the Alumni Assembly during Reunion Weekend Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3.

    In addition to teaching in the Department of Psychology, Bradburn has taught in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, the Graduate School of Business and the College. He is a former Provost of the University, Chairman of the Behavioral Sciences Department and Associate Dean of the Social Sciences Division.

    A social psychologist, Bradburn has been a leader in developing both the theory and practice of sample survey research. In 1961, he became a Study Director at the National Opinion Research Center and then served as its Director three times (1967-71, 1979-84 and 1989-1992).

    As a campus administrator, Bradburn introduced approaches that led to a better quality of life for students and improved educational programs in several departments. His open attitude and actions were especially effective in stabilizing the mood on campus during a turbulent period during the early 1970s.

    As a teacher, he is respected not only for his commitment to intellectual inquiry and his rigorous standards but also for his patience, generosity and compassion. For many students, he has extended his role as mentor beyond graduation and continues to provide ideas and guidance as they begin their careers.

    “I am surprised and pleased to receive the Norman Maclean Faculty Award,” said Bradburn. “President Hutchins used to say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. I have been learning through teaching for my entire career. Teaching is wonderfully rewarding when it goes well, but one is never quite sure that the students have gotten as much out of it as the teacher. It is gratifying to know that students do remember you and have profited from our learning together.”

    Those he has trained attest that in the survey research world having been a student of Bradburn’s is equated with being a dedicated, meticulous and honest scholar.

    After 39 years on the faculty, Bradburn has retired from teaching and has begun a new career as Assistant Director of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation. In 2000, grateful students and colleagues staged a Bradburn Fest to celebrate his decades of scholarship and teaching at the University.

    Weintraub also has taught in the Committee on Social Thought, the Committee on the History of Culture, the Humanities Division and in the College. A former Chairman of the Committee on the History of Culture and Dean of the Humanities Division, Weintraub has spent 56 years at the University as a student, a professor and as an inspiring mentor to generations of students.

    A renowned scholar whose research and writing addresses broad historical questions of autobiography and history of culture, Weintraub is well known for his teaching of the Western Civilization course in the College. The course was so popular when Weintraub was teaching it that students had to sleep out on the Quads the night before registration to secure a place. His carefully framed questions and demanding expectations taught his students to read critically and pursue complex issues.

    “An ever so wonderful aspect of my half century at this University is that it allowed me to teach its excellent students. I have done my share of committee work and other administrative work when asked to do it. I have tried to teach through writing books––but the special reward and satisfaction has always been to work with live students in the classroom, trying, as best I could and albeit only by small degrees, to bring them face to face with fascinating human realities, to improve their skills, to sharpen their judgment, to refine their taste, and to develop a sense of proportion in them. Nothing else quite compares to the challenge of furthering their sense of being responsible heirs.”

    Weintraub’s skill as a teacher earned him two Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the University as well as the Danforth Foundation’s E. Harris Harbison Award for Distinguished Teaching.

    For many Chicago students, Weintraub––who also has a reputation for being compassionate and approachable––has been the most important educational influence in their lives. A constant inspiration to students, Weintraub kept in touch and encouraged his students toward excellence even after they had left campus. Many former students echo the sentiments of one who recently wrote, “If I am at all good at what I do, it is in large part due to him.”