Distinguished profs to deliver inaugural lectures Sept. 19

Stephen A. Bernhardt

Donald L. Sparks

Carol J. Vukelich

Three recently appointed named professors at the University of Delaware will deliver their Inaugural Lectures on Thursday, Sept. 19, at various locations on the Newark campus. The lectures are free and open to the public.

"Named professorships honor distinguished teaching and scholarship, and these individuals are experts in their chosen fields," UD President David P. Roselle said. "We are grateful to the friends of the University who, through the Campaign for Delaware, have made it possible for the University to recognize the accomplishments of these and other members of our faculty. We are gratified that these friends and supporters recognize the importance to the University of being able to honor members of the faculty."

According to Acting Provost Dan Rich, "The achievements of these three named professors enrich the character and quality of our academic community, and they contribute to the improvement of the wider community."

Speaking on Sept. 19 will be

*Stephen A. Bernhardt, the Andrew B. Kirkpatrick Jr. Chair in Writing, on "Writing in the Disciplines: What We Know AboutTeaching and Learning," at 4:30 p.m. in Room 127 of Memorial Hall;

*Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources, on "It's About Scale and Interfaces: From the Landscape to the Molecular," at 4 p.m. in Room 102 of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, 15 Innovation Way; and

*Carol Vukelich, L. Sandra and Bruce L. Hammonds Professor in Teacher Education, on "When the Music Stops, Will Teacher Education Have a Chair?" at 4:30 p.m. in the Trabant University Center Theatre.


In UD's Department of English, Bernhardt teaches technical and business communication at all levels, and he works to improve writing within the disciplines across the UD campus. He is widely published in leading journals, with research interests centering on visual rhetoric, computers and writing, workplace training and development, and the teaching of scientific and technical communication.

In his inaugural lecture, he will address current concerns on campus related to student writing by discussing what is known about how writing is taught on U.S. campuses and what research suggests about how students learn to be expert writers.

"Student writing is a perennial concern, with a long tradition of complaint amongst both professors and employers of university graduates," Bernhardt said. "Good writing is a subject about which everyone has strong opinions. Are writing skills in decline? Is writing a problem to be solved? Is writing a skill that students can be taught once and for all? Is good writing something stable and definable or is it shifting and growing increasingly complex? What is the role of writing as a tool to help students think, learn, and develop as professionals? Does writing skill transfer from one situation to another? If a student writes a good history term paper, is that student likely to use those skills to write up a great biology lab report?"


Sparks has chaired of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at UD since 1989. He has joint appointments in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Civil and Environmental Engineering and the College of Marine Studies.

He is nationally and internationally recognized for his research on the kinetics of soil chemical reactions and the application of state-of-the-art molecular scale spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to elucidate reaction mechanisms.

A prolific researcher, writer and lecturer, Sparks has received numerous honors and award. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1994 and T.A. Baker Professor in 2001. He also is a recipient of UD's Francis Alison Award and was the first recipient of UD's Doctoral Advising and Mentoring Award.

A fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has received the M.L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Award, the Soil Science Society of America's Research Award and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources' F.D. Chester Distinguished Service Award.


Vukelich joined the UD faculty in 1972 and has served as director of the Delaware Center for Teacher Education since 1998, while maintaining her faculty appointment in the School of Education.

Her research focuses on children's literacy development, particularly children's development as writers and preservice teachers' reflection processes and strategies.

She serves on editorial boards for several publications and is the author of more than 60 articles on literacy learning and teaching. She is the coauthor of two textbooks on literacy teaching and the coauthor of a recently published literacy program for young children.

Her inaugural lecture will consider recent challenges to the continued existence of teacher education programs as the way most people learn to become teachers and earn teaching certificates Do future teacher receive too much pedagogy training or not enough?

"The system that trains and certifies teachers in the United States is being called into question on the role of teacher education in providing people for the teacher workforce and on its effectiveness," she said. "The current system, so say some political and research organizations, is not improving the quality of the teacher workforce. Some call for eliminating the current system. Why these conclusions and attacks? What is the field proposing as an alternative to the deregulation of teacher education?" Vukelich asked.