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Three faculty named Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors

by Karen A. Grava - February 6, 2006

Three faculty members, Janine Caira, Joel Kupperman, and Sally Reis, have been named Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors.

The award honors faculty who have achieved exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service while at UConn.

“In a faculty that has more than its share of individuals of exceptional talent and commitment, it is extremely difficult to choose the small number entitled to this distinction,” said President Philip E. Austin. “I applaud the faculty-student committee that made these selections, and, as in years past, I am delighted that the board honors such outstanding members of our community.”

The designation, which is reserved for no more than five percent of the total of full professors in active service at the University, was recommended by a selection committee and endorsed unanimously last week by the Board of Trustees.

Caira is a professor of ecology and evolutional biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the 2003 Alumni Association Distinguished Professor. She is an internationally recognized authority of the evolutionary relationships of animal parasites, particularly the tapeworm parasites of sharks, skates, and rays.

Through collections made in a series of expeditions to California, Colombia, the Caribbean, Madagascar, Thailand, Japan, northern Australia, Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Malaysian Borneo, Caira and her students have described 82 new species and 13 new genera of tapeworms.

In 1998, she was given the Henry Baldwin Award Medal of the American Society of Parasitologists. She also was recognized in 2004 by the University of Nebraska with its Alumni Achievement Award.

The winner of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999, Caira has worked with 31 undergraduates who have pursued independent research projects in her laboratory, 19 of whom are co-authors on papers published in major national or international journals.

Kupperman is a professor of philosophy whose scholarly work has both contributed to and challenged standard Anglo-American ethnic theory. He is the author of 55 articles that have examined and refined both consequentialism and Kantianism, and is the author of 10 books.

Professors Sally Reis, left, Joel Kupperman, and Janine Caira were recognized at last week's Trustees' meeting as this year's Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors.
Professors Sally Reis, left, Joel Kupperman, and Janine Caira were recognized at last week’s Trustees’ meeting as this year’s Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors.
Photo by Melissa Arbo

Known for innovation in teaching large classes of introductory students, as well as for excellence in teaching at all levels, Kupperman won the Alumni Association Award for Teaching Excellence in 1973, the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award in 2001, and the Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award in Research (Humanities) in 2004.

A member of the faculty for 46 years, Kupperman has served on numerous committees and on the University Senate, and instituted the philosophy department’s weekly “brown bag” seminars, which he has run for most of the department’s 30-year history.

Reis is a professor and head of the educational psychology department in the Neag School of Education. Reis’s research interests relate to talent development in all children as well as special populations of high-potential students, including those with learning disabilities, gifted females, and culturally diverse and talented students who live in poverty and are often underserved.

She was named a Distinguished Scholar by the National Association for Gifted Children for her scholarly contributions to the field, and has been named one of the 10 most influential psychologists in the world in the area of talent development and gifted children by the American Psychological Association.

Reis has a long history of public service and also is the director of Confratute, a summer training program for teachers held in Storrs each summer for the past 29 years. With her husband and professional partner, Joseph Renzulli, she has been responsible for training more than 20,000 teachers to address the needs of academically talented students.

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