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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 22, 2011

CLAS appoints five faculty members to named positions

Linda Maxson, University of Iowa Alumni Association Dean's Chair in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), has announced five named faculty positions in the college. Kate Gfeller, professor of music and communication sciences and disorders, is the inaugural recipient of the Russell B. Day and Florence D. Day Chair. Brooks Landon, professor of English, is the inaugural recipient of the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair. Jonathan Wilcox, professor of English, has been named the John C. Gerber Professor. Ann Budd, professor of geoscience, and David Wiemer, professor of chemistry, has been named F. Wendell Miller Professors.

"It gives me great pleasure to recognize these five exceptional faculty members," Maxson said. "Each one is an exemplary teacher and leader, and each has been prolific in presenting wide-ranging research to the academic community and is highly regarded in her or his respective field. They represent the scholarly achievement that continuously renews our curriculum and offers exciting academic opportunities for our students.”

Gfeller is recognized internationally for her collaborative research on music perception of cochlear implant recipients and innovative approaches to aural rehabilitation for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. She is principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded music perception project for the Iowa Cochlear Implant Research Center in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, UI Hospitals and Clinics. Among her honors, she has received the Iowa Board of Regents Faculty Excellence Award (2001) and the National Association for Music Therapy award for excellence in research and publication (1996). Gfeller joined the UI faculty in 1985. She is currently director of graduate studies in the Music Therapy Program in the School of Music.

The Day chair is named for UI alumnus Russell B. Day and his wife, Florence D. Day. The Days established the fund to endow a faculty position in the CLAS.

Landon is widely known for his innovation in undergraduate education and his scholarship in the area of science fiction literature. He has developed curricula in literature, writing and the cutting-edge areas of technoculture and hypertext studies. He received the M.L. Huit Award in 1996 for his career in service to students, and was named a collegiate fellow in 2003. Landon joined the Department of English in 1978 after receiving his doctorate in English from the University of Texas. He has served as chair of the Department of English, director of undergraduate studies in English and director of the general education literature program.

The Schmidt chair was established with a gift from Herman J. Schmidt, a native of Davenport, Iowa, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the UI in 1938, and his wife, Eileen S. Schmidt. The Schmidt chair honors a CLAS faculty member for excellence and sustained leadership in the education of undergraduates.

Wilcox is a distinguished teacher of medieval literature and culture and an internationally recognized scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature. Known for his study of Old English sermons and Anglo-Saxon humor, Wilcox authored the influential book “Ælfric’s Prefaces” and dozens of book chapters, articles and essays. He edited the Old English Newsletter from 1996-03 and is currently a member of the executive committee of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. Wilcox received his doctorate in English from Cambridge University and joined the UI Department of English in 1987. He served as department chair from 2005-08 and was the founding director of the Certificate in Medieval Studies.

The Gerber Professorship is named for UI professor John C. Gerber, former UI professor of English. The Gerber Professorship Fund was established by colleagues and friends on Gerber’s 90th birthday in recognition of his excellence in scholarship, teaching and service to the Department of English and the profession.

Budd is internationally recognized for combining paleontology and modern genomic studies in her research on the systematics and evolution of Cenozoic reef-building corals, the paleoecology of coral reefs and morphometrics. Her National Science Foundation-funded studies of speciation and extinction in reef corals and changes in their biodiversity over the past 55 million years have global implications for understanding and preserving coral reef ecosystems, which are increasingly being threatened by climate change and anthropogenic degradation. Budd received her doctorate in earth and planetary science from Johns Hopkins University in 1978 and joined the UI faculty in 1984. She served as chair of the Department of Geoscience from 1998-04.

Wiemer is a world leader in the fields of synthetic and bioorganic chemistry. His research focuses on the synthesis and evaluation of medicinally-active natural products and designed inhibitors of the enzymes involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis. Major sponsors of his research have included the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, the Leukemia Society of America and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Wiemer received his dcotorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1976 and joined the UI faculty in 1978. He has served as interim associate dean of the Graduate College and chair of the Department of Chemistry.

The Miller professorship is named for F. Wendell Miller, an attorney and farm manager from Rockwell City, Iowa, who died in 1995. The Miller Endowment Trust was established from the Miller estate, with interest and income from the trust divided equally between the UI and Iowa State University to encourage the advancement of academic endeavors.

STORY SOURCE: CLAS Office of External Relations, 240 Schaeffer Hall, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1409

MEDIA CONTACT: Esther Baker, 319-335-2818,