Vanderbilt University honors 16 faculty members as emeriti

Sixteen retiring faculty members were recognized during Vanderbilt’s May 13 Commencement ceremony when the university honored their years of service and bestowed on them the title of emeritus or emerita faculty.

Robert W. Blanning, professor of management, emeritus

Blanning’s global experience combines the worlds of academia and business. He came to the Owen Graduate School of Management in 1980 from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His previous positions included the College of Business and Public Administration and Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the National University of Singapore. Before his academic roles, Blanning served as an operations research analyst for the Mobil Oil Corporation and as a nuclear engineer at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory of the General Electric Company.

Blanning’s research focuses on decision support systems, information systems research and artificial intelligence. His articles have been featured in such prominent publications as Management Science, Information Systems Research, the Columbia Journal of World Business, the International Journal of Management, Futures and Long Range Planning. He currently serves on the board of editors of the Journal of Management Information Systems.

Frank S. Bloch, professor of law, emeritus

Bloch joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1979 as the first director of the Vanderbilt Law School’s Legal Clinic. Bloch received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1969 and his Ph.D. in politics from Brandeis University in 1978. He came to Vanderbilt from the University of Chicago Law School. As director of clinical education at Vanderbilt, a position he filled until 2001, he supervised the law school’s clinical education program, developed its clinical curriculum and managed its in-house clinical law office.

An internationally recognized expert in disability and Social Security law, Bloch has written numerous publications including The Global Clinical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Justice, Bloch on Social Security Disability and dozens of articles, book chapters and essays. He has served multiple terms on the steering committee and the executive committee of the Global Alliance for Justice Education, has chaired committees of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Education and has served as chair of the Income Security Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

A. B. Bonds, professor of electrical engineering, emeritus; professor of computer engineering, emeritus; professor of biomedical engineering, emeritus

Bonds’ research has focused on the use of engineering methods and models to improve the understanding of information processing in the visual cortex. He is recognized for his work on spatial filtering, contrast processing and communication within organized, multicellular structures. In 1980, he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and was promoted to associate professor in 1983 and professor in 1991.

Bonds has served on the program committee of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and as an associate editor of Visual Neuroscience and of the Journal of Neuroscience. He has been director of the Computer Engineering program since 1998 and director of undergraduate studies in electrical engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since 2003. Bonds was awarded the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1989, the School of Engineering Professor of the Year Award in 1990, the Chancellor’s Award for Research in 2005 and the Dean Edward J. White Award for Service in 2010.

Lonnie S. Burnett, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, emeritus

After distinguishing himself as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, Burnett was recruited to Vanderbilt in 1976 as a professor and the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1995, he was named the Frances and John C. Burch Professor. Under Burnett’s leadership, the department increased in size and national reputation. More than 100 residents completed their residency training during his tenure.

Burnett has been president of the Nashville Obstetrics and Gynecology Society and chair of the Tennessee Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He served as president and later chairman of the board of directors of the Nashville Academy of Medicine. He also served on the leadership committee of the Vanderbilt University “Shape the Future” Campaign. In recognition of his support of and devotion to medical student scholarship, Burnett was elected president of the Canby Robinson Society in 2006. In 1993 the Vanderbilt Obstetrical Gynecological Alumni Association (“The Stork Club”) was renamed the Lonnie S. Burnett Society.

J. Patout Burns, Jr., Edward A. Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies, emeritus

Burns joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1999 as the first Edward A. Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies in the Divinity School. Burns’ fields of expertise are Christianity in North Africa in the early centuries of the Common Era, the thought of Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, theological anthropology and Christian social thought on war, violence and pacifism. His work in progress includes the leading role in an interdisciplinary working group for the study of Christianity in Rome and Africa during the second through seventh centuries.

Before coming to Vanderbilt, Burns taught historical theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago where he was promoted to associate professor in 1979. Subsequently, he taught in the theology department at Loyola University in Chicago and also served as department chair. Burns was a professor of religion at the University of Florida from1986 to 1990 and then served for a decade as the Thomas and Alberta White Professor of Christian Thought at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dale Cockrell, professor of musicology, emeritus

Cockrell has been a professor of musicology in the Blair School of Music since 1996. He is widely published in the field of American music studies. His works include Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), which won the C. Hugh Holman Award; Excelsior: Journals of the Hutchinson Family Singers, 1842-1846 (Stuyvesant, New York: Pendragon, 1989), winner of the Irving Lowens Award; and more than 100 other books, articles and monographs.

Cockrell’s recent work has focused on The Pa’s Fiddle Project, a program centered on the music embedded in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and resulting in the publication of The Ingalls Wilder Family Songbook in 2010 by the Music of the United States of America project. Cockrell established Pa’s Fiddle Recordings in 2004 and has since released Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder (2005; honored by the National Endowment for the Humanities by inclusion on its We the People Bookshelf) and The Arkansas Traveler: Music from Little House on the Prairie (2007). Pa’s Fiddle: Charles Ingalls, American Fiddler will be released in 2011.

Joseph J. Cunningham, professor of special education, emeritus; professor of human and organizational development, emeritus

Cunningham joined the Peabody College faculty in 1969 as an assistant professor, even before completing his doctor of education in special education (with a focus on sociology and mental retardation) in 1975 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1970, he developed and directed Peabody’s interdisciplinary undergraduate major in human behavior, a precursor to the Human and Organizational Development undergraduate program.

Cunningham served Peabody College as associate dean for academic affairs (1980-1987), associate dean for administration (1987-1999) and acting dean (1989-1991). His administrative service spanned years of major challenge and opportunity for post-merger Peabody as it took its place as Vanderbilt’s college of education and human development. For the past decade, Cunningham has chaired the Department of Human and Organizational Development, guiding it to become one of Vanderbilt’s largest and most successful academic units. Cunningham has provided a wealth of resources to the community, acting as a consultant for multiple school districts and special education and rehabilitation centers and as a member of advisory committees for programs serving families and children.

Janet S. Eyler, professor of the practice of education, emerita

Eyler has made an enduring impact on Vanderbilt and Peabody through her many years of service. She has served the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations as associate chair; director of the Human Resource Development and Organizational Leadership graduate programs; and director of undergraduate studies. She was associate director of the Peabody Corporate Learning Institute, and she served as associate dean of the college. She was an active member of the Peabody Faculty Council from 2001 to 2008 and served as its chair in 2006-07.

She has been nationally recognized for her scholarship by receiving such honors as Researcher of the Year from the National Society for Experiential Education and the annual Research Award from the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement. She is the author or co-author of three books on service learning, 17 book chapters and more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. Throughout her career, Eyler has been a member of numerous national and international professional associations and boards, including the Tennessee Service-Learning Advisory Council, Campus Compact, the National Research Advisory Council, and the National Society for Experiential Education.

J. Michael Fitzpatrick, professor of computer science, emeritus; professor of computer engineering, emeritus; professor of electrical engineering, emeritus; professor of neurological surgery, emeritus; professor of radiology and radiological sciences, emeritus

Fitzpatrick has published more than 190 papers and holds 14 patents for devices and algorithms in surgical guidance. He has worked closely with physicians and surgeons in the departments of Radiology, Neurological Surgery and Otolaryngology. From 1988 to 1995, he led the software development at Vanderbilt for the world’s first FDA-cleared surgical navigation system based on bone-implanted fiducial markers.

He and his students developed new approaches to the statistical assessment and theoretical prediction of accuracy in surgical guidance that have achieved worldwide recognition as a standard for the evaluation of guidance techniques and the alignment of magnetic resonance and computed tomography images. He has taught programming to thousands of first- and second-year students at Vanderbilt. In 2001, he introduced a new course for non-computer science majors, Introductory Programming for Engineers and Scientists. This is now the largest programming course in the School of Engineering. Fitzpatrick is a fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Steven K. Hanks, professor of cell and developmental biology, emeritus

Hanks joined the Department of Cell Biology at the School of Medicine in June 1990. He has a longstanding interest in the role of protein kinases in regulating basic aspects of cell behavior. During postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute, he developed homology-based cDNA cloning strategies to identify previously unrecognized protein kinases, leading to the first recognition of a cyclin-dependent protein kinase in vertebrates.

His first National Institutes of Health grant was awarded in 1987 to characterize novel protein kinases, and, for the next 24 years, he maintained continuous NIH support for his research. Hanks continued to make seminal contributions to the field, including the discovery of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and the development of the current classification system for protein kinases. Three of his articles on the protein kinase family have received more than 1,000 citations each. He co-edited the popular Protein Kinases Factbook. Hanks was the founding member of the Cancer Molecular Pathology study section in the NIH Oncology IRG, and he currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Robert B. Innes, professor of human and organizational development, emeritus

Innes nurtured the undergraduate program in Human and Organizational Development from a tiny major to one of Vanderbilt University’s largest, and shaped its approach to pedagogy based on principles he outlined in his 2004 book, Reconstructing Undergraduate Education.

He was awarded the Vanderbilt University Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching in 1993, and in 1998 he received the Chancellor’s Cup, awarded to the professor who makes the largest contribution to undergraduate education at Vanderbilt.

In the mid-1970s, he garnered funds from the National Institute for Mental Health to found the Child Development Specialist master’s program, the precursor of HOD. In addition to being a pillar of the future development of Peabody College, HOD under Innes’ leadership brought the Posse Program to Vanderbilt. This experimental program in recruitment, retention and success for minority students from New York City and other urban areas did more for the cause of diversity at Vanderbilt and for changing attitudes about minority students than any other programmatic effort in recent Vanderbilt history.

Frank L. Parker, distinguished professor of environmental and water resources engineering, emeritus; professor of civil and environmental engineering, emeritus

Parker is a pioneer in nuclear waste management and environmental protection. He has served as head of the Radioactive Waste Disposal Research Section of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, head of the Radioactive Waste Disposal Research Program at the International Atomic Energy Agency, senior research fellow of the Beijer Institute of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and senior research fellow of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.

Within the last year, Parker presented invited papers at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican, the World Federation of Sciences Annual Meeting on Global Planetary Emergencies and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988, the first from Vanderbilt. He has received the Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award and the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor Award. He is the first American, other than its namesake, to win the international Wendell D. Weart Lifetime Achievement Award in Waste Management.

Barbara A. Petersen, associate professor of nursing, emerita

Petersen joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an associate professor of nursing in summer 1995. Nationally recognized as a “pioneer in nurse-midwifery,” Petersen started two nurse-midwifery programs, at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in 1995 and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1990. Her achievements as an education leader include writing grants that garnered approximately $5.1 million for the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. As an expert in the accreditation process, she served as an American College of Nurse-Midwives accreditation site visitor and serves as an Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education board of review member.

In the nurse-midwifery service/practice environment, Petersen conceived and developed the Midwifery Business Institute, now in its 15th year, to bring together business experts to prepare practice directors for their role. She is a fellow of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, a member of Sigma Theta Tau and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and a founding member of the American Association for the History of Nursing, and has been honored as one of Vanderbilt nursing school’s 100 Centennial Leaders in Nursing.

Carol A. Rubin, professor of mechanical engineering, emerita

Before coming to Vanderbilt University, Rubin taught at Kansas State University, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Rubin’s fields of expertise are applied mechanics, finite element stress analysis and computer-aided design. She has worked in the area of nonlinear contact mechanics, developing computer models to describe the behavior of machines containing parts that slide/roll relative to each other, such as bearings and gears, to understand the effects of contacting materials, friction, heat, etc.

She has also developed computer models for structural riveted connections, such as those in aircraft fuselages. Her current projects include development of expert systems for treating the interface between computer aided design and stress analysis software. She has published more than 100 scientific papers and two books, the latest of which (Structural Shear Joints: Analyses, Properties and Design for Repeated Loading) was published by ASME Press in 2005.

Charles E. Scott, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, emeritus

Scott is a specialist in 19th- and 20th -century European thought. His work addresses major questions concerning the ways people live and emphasizes experiences of boundaries, memory and indifference. During his career, he authored seven books (with an eighth in progress), edited or co-edited eight books, published more than 100 journal articles and 75 essays in books and presented dozens and dozens of professional papers and commentaries worldwide.

Scott directed the university’s Center for Ethics, and, earlier, as director of the Mellon Regional Faculty Development Program, he visited campuses throughout the Southeast to talk with deans and faculty leaders and to explain and recruit for the program. He organized faculty seminars each summer on topics primarily in the humanities that were taught by Vanderbilt faculty members and attended by faculty from colleges and universities within a 500-mile radius of Nashville. The experience of teaching seasoned faculty members turned out to be a significant development experience for faculty and led to development of a humanities center, now the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, for which Scott was the first director.

Ghodrat A. Siami, professor of medicine, emeritus

The focus of Siami’s research, teaching, and practice has been the patient with end stage renal disease and patients requiring apheresis, or the process of removing a specific component from blood and returning the remaining components to the donor. During an era in which academic centers were trying to develop practices of end stage renal disease and apheresis, Siami created cryofiltration apheresis. Equally important for Vanderbilt, Siami put together all of the elements required to maintain a vigorous apheresis program. He founded and remains the medical director of the apheresis program.

Siami has become a national and international figure in the realm of apheresis, serving as vice president and then president of the prestigious International Society for Apheresis and vice president of the World Apheresis Association. Some of his most important contributions have been in the development of immunosuppressive strategies through the history of plasmapheresis. He has helped to develop Vanderbilt’s special training in cryofiltration with hemodialysis and has served as a member of the full-time teaching faculty for more than 28 years.

Watch video of Commencement 2011.