Rice, Straus to receive Maclean
The Alumni Association has announced that Stuart Rice and Lorna Straus are this year’s recipients of the Norman Maclean Faculty Award, an honor given to emeritus or senior faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching and to students’ experience of life on campus.
Rice, the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, has been influential in both theoretical chemistry and chemical physics for more than 50 years, almost all of which were spent at the University. In 1999 he was honored with the National Medal of Science for “changing the very nature of modern physical chemistry” through his work.
Rice’s research contributions have been coupled with extraordinary teaching and dedication to his students. His first Ph.D. student graduated in 1960, and last year Rice celebrated the graduation of his 100th Ph.D. candidate.
Former students, many of whom are now academics and scientists, acknowledged his profound impact: “He is totally devoted to his students and focuses on them with a laser-like intensity that is exciting but never daunting,” one wrote.
Winner of a Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Rice has served as Chair of Chemistry and Director of the James Frank Institute and, with appointments from 1981 to 1995, is the longest-serving Dean of the Physical Sciences Division in the division’s history.
“From the day of my arrival the unique intellectual environment of this University supported and challenged me,” Rice said. “The openness of colleagues to new ideas, the culture that expected me to probe deeply whatever I considered important, the ease of collaboration with others with very different backgrounds and the intense focus on excellence stimulated me to roam widely across chemistry and physics.”
He added: “In a very real sense whatever I have accomplished has been a consequence of the environment provided by the University.”
Straus (E.X.,’60, S.M.,’60, Ph.D.,’62) is Professor Emerita in Organismal Biology & Anatomy and the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, former Dean of Students in the College, and University Marshal. Over the past 45 years, Straus has been an active campus force, striving to improve student life while engaging undergraduates in the classroom and research lab. Her commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching has been acknowledged by two Quantrell Awards, won in 1970 and 1987. She also received the 2003 Gold Key Award from the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding and loyal service.
An enthusiastic supporter of student athletes, Straus is well known for her indefatigable school spirit and was instrumental in building the Women’s Athletic Association. She has volunteered in several administrative capacities, including chairing the College Curriculum Committee and serving on the University Council and the Task Force on Undergraduate Education. In 2000, she was appointed University Marshal, the University’s chief ceremonial officer.
Many College alumni cited Straus’ encouragement and teaching as the primary reason they completed their undergraduate degrees and were able to enter graduate programs. One former student wrote, “She strongly contributed to a sense that women are accepted and can succeed in science, but more importantly, that women and men can use their integrative skills for the enrichment of both their personal and professional lives.”
“I have taught at the University since 1964,” Straus said. “I have genuinely enjoyed virtually every aspect of my teaching.”
The Maclean Award, established in 1997, is named for Professor Norman Maclean (Ph.D.,’40), who taught English Language & Literature at Chicago for 40 years.