Faculty members Kuh and Shiffrin awarded IU President's Medal for Excellence

  • Oct. 16, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie has presented the President’s Medal for Excellence to two highly distinguished IU faculty members, George Kuh and Richard Shiffrin.

McRobbie made the presentation Tuesday at the 2014 Academic Excellence Reception and Dinner at Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union. The annual event honors Indiana University faculty members who have received prestigious awards or been named to academic honor organizations.

Kuh is Chancellor's Professor Emeritus in the School of Education and director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. He is widely known as a scholar of student engagement and institutional quality in higher education.

Shiffrin is Distinguished Professor and Luther Dana Waterman Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Widely known for his contributions to cognitive science, he also directs the department’s Memory and Perception Laboratory.

“Professors Kuh and Shiffrin have made enormous and legendary contributions to their respective fields,” McRobbie said. “Both have dedicated themselves to the great spirit of education and scholarship that extends far beyond the walls of the academy, and both have received many honors and awards for their work. I am very pleased to be able to add to those honors.”

The President's Medal for Excellence is the highest honor an IU president can bestow. First presented in 1985, it is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in academia or public service.

Kuh joined the Indiana University faculty in 1976 and created and taught many courses in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program in the School of Education. He directed 55 doctoral dissertations and served as a mentor to many more graduate students. His former students are now among the leading higher education and student affairs professionals and researchers in the nation.

“Professor Kuh is widely known as one of the world's leading scholars of high-impact educational practices and student engagement,” McRobbie said. “For nearly 40 years, he has played a major role in helping to shape research and scholarship in the field of higher education and student affairs. He has rightly been called a towering figure who launched the field of assessment in institutional quality.”

Kuh is the author of highly influential texts used in higher education and student affairs programs around the world. As founding director of the National Survey of Student Engagement, he established a system for measuring students’ participation in activities that encourage academic and personal development, providing students, parents and others with important information about college quality. He also directed and continues to advise the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, the first in-depth survey to investigate the educational experiences and career paths of arts graduates.

Kuh also founded IU’s Center for Postsecondary Research, which conducts research spanning a wide variety of areas, and his leadership helped make the center one of the major research operations in higher education. His contributions have been recognized by several national organizations, and he received IU’s Tracy M. Sonneborn Award for distinguished teaching and research in 2001.

Shiffrin joined the IU faculty after graduating from Stanford University, where he and Richard Atkinson developed the Atkinson-Shiffrin model, giving a mathematical basis for a theory of memory for the first time. Their article is one of the most highly cited in the history of the behavioral sciences.

“Professor Shiffrin has made numerous contributions to the modeling of human cognition in areas ranging from perception to attention to learning,” McRobbie said. “He is also known for his long-standing efforts to develop explicit models of human memory, especially the Atkinson-Shiffrin model, which has been called one of the most significant advances in the study of memory since William James."

Shiffrin’s subsequent discoveries have also been groundbreaking. In 1977, he and Walter Schneider proposed a theory of attention that divided automatic from control processes and showed how processes could become automatic through mapping. He helped create the Search of Associative Memory model in the 1980s and the Retrieving Effectively From Memory model in the 1990s.

At IU, he has served as advisor for many students and postdoctoral researchers, some of whom serve on the faculties of leading universities or as scientists for NASA, IBM, Microsoft and the U.S. Army Research Institute. He co-chaired the Alliance of Distinguished and Titled Professors, served on the committee to form the School of Informatics, helped establish the Department of Statistics and was instrumental in establishing IU’s Cognitive Science Program.

He has also received many major awards in the field of psychology, including the Warren Medal of the Society for Experimental Psychology, the William James Fellow Award and the David E. Rumelhart Prize for Formal Modeling of Human Cognition -- known as the “Nobel Prize of Cognitive Science.”

The annual Academic Excellence Reception and Dinner celebrates IU faculty who have reached the pinnacle of academic achievement by being named fellows of one of the major national or international scholarly academies, or who have received Pulitzer or Nobel prizes, Guggenheim Awards, MacArthur Awards, or major awards in the performing arts such as Grammy or Emmy awards.

The President's Medal for Excellence is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by IU's president at ceremonial occasions. A list of recipients is available online.

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IU President Michael A. McRobbie congratulates George Kuh for receiving the President's Medal for Excellence.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie congratulates George Kuh for receiving the President's Medal for Excellence.

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IU President Michael A. McRobbie congratulates Richard Shiffrin for receiving the President's Medal for Excellence.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie congratulates Richard Shiffrin for receiving the President's Medal for Excellence.

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Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications

Ryan Piurek