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April 18, 2005

Distinguished Professors Named

Four faculty members cited for exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service have been selected as this year’s Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors, the University’s highest honor for faculty.

The four are: Brenda Murphy, professor of English; Peter Setlow, professor of molecular, microbial, and structural biology at the Health Center; C.F. Sirmans, William N. Kinnard Jr. Professor of Finance and director of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies; and Bette Talvacchia, professor of art and art history.

All have national and international standing in their fields, have published their work, hold multiple professional honors, and have been exceptional teachers and mentors.

They will be honored during a reception on April 20 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Foundation Building.

“It is a pleasure to recognize the four individuals who have been selected as Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors,” says Provost Peter J. Nicholls. “They have made extraordinary contributions to the University of Connecticut and to their respective fields.”

Faculty colleagues select recipients through a process of nomination and review.

The first honorees were named in 2000. Honorees may use the title Distinguished Professor for life. No more than five percent of the active faculty may hold the title at any one time.

Brenda MurphyBrenda Murphy is an expert on American theater. Her scholarly work reflects her interest in placing American drama, theater, and performance in the broader context of American literature and culture. She has written articles about a wide range of American writers, from 19th-century figures such as Henry Adams and Mark Twain to contemporary authors, including David Mamet and Sam Shepard, and is the author of nine books on American drama. Murphy has been recognized as breaking new ground in her synthesis of the study of the play as literary text and the play as performance in her books on Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Eugene O’Neill. Congressional Theatre, her study of theater’s response to the activities of the post-war House Un-American Activities Committee, was honored by the American Society for Theatre Research in 1999 as outstanding research in theater history and cognate studies.

Peter SetlowPeter Setlow’s research focuses on the spores of bacteria of Bacillus species, an interest that began during his postdoctoral work with Arthur Kornberg in the late 1960’s. His current work focuses on why these spores are dormant, why they are so resistant to treatments that kill growing cells, and how they “return to life.” The anthrax incident in 2001 with Bacillus anthracis has sparked renewed interest in studying these spores. Setlow’s research has been funded since 1972 by the National Institutes of Health and since 1978 by the Army Research Office. He has also received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He has been cited nine times for outstanding teaching by medical and dental students. He is currently chair of the School of Medicine Faculty Council, and was the chair of the Health Center’s biochemistry department for eight years.

C.F. SirmansC.F. Sirmans’ research interest is real estate finance and economics, focusing on spatial-temporal pricing in real estate markets, the securitization of real estate claims, and the economics of real property law. His research has examined these issues in an international context. Sirmans is the most cited author in the field of real estate finance and economics, according to the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. He has taught all levels of students in the School of Business and has received many teaching awards. He has served as acting head of the finance department and interim dean and associate dean of business. In 2001, he was awarded the George Bloom Award by the officers and directors of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, for outstanding contributions to the real estate field.

Bette TalvacchiBette Talvacchia is a highly acclaimed scholar in the field of Renaissance art. She has been awarded fellowships from prestigious scholarly institutions, including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Fulbright Program. She was the Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy from 2002 to 2004.

Her book, Taking Positions: On the Erotic in Renaissance Culture, received accolades from The New York Review of Books and was recognized as one of the 10 best art history books of the year by the Apollo art journal. Her book on Raphael, due out in 2006, will present a new interpretation of the artist. She has developed and taught innovative interdisciplinary courses, including “The Artist and Society” and “Michelangelo as Paradigm of the Renaissance Artist.”