I’m finally back from spending a few days in DC – my second trip to the city in the past two weeks. I was there to receive the CASE/Carnegie Professor of the Year award for Arizona. The award – presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education – is the only national award that recognizes professors for their commitment to undergraduate education and mentoring. I was deeply, deeply, honored to be counted among the four national award winners and the forty state winners, especially as the nomination comes from your university and is judged by peers nationwide.
(I will note that Randy Moore – another voice in the fight for science – received the Minnesota Professor of the Year award last year. This only increases the honor for me, given Moore’s sterling work over the years for science education.)
As you can imagine, the trip was filled with receptions and such-like. An evening reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library offered the opportunity to mix with our senators and congressmen. Unfortunately only four turned up: Rep Harry Mitchell (D, Az), Rep Vic Snyder (D, Ar), Rep Nancy Boyda (D, Ks), and (if I remember correctly) Spencer Bachus (R, Al). I got to chat with the three Dems (all of whom were great fun and are deeply committed to education) before Reps Mitchell and Boyda took my wife and I over to the Capitol and gave us the behind-the-scenes tour. Wandering around the Capitol when there are no tourists around and being able to truly enjoy the architecture of the Rotunda and the National Statuary Hall was an amazing experience.
John Quincy Adams collapsed in (what is now) the National Statuary Hall on February 21st 1848. Two days later he died on a couch in (what was then) the adjoining Speakers Office. That office is now a set of rest rooms for Congresswomen and Nancy Boyda took me in to see the old office and the couch – a place which most congressmen don’t know even exist never mind see. Nancy also took us out onto the Speaker’s Balcony, which offers a stunning view of the Mall at night. We then went on to the public gallery to witness the last three votes before the Thanksgiving break. (Folks, it’s a lot more raucous and active than CSPAN makes it appear!).
I just want to take this opportunity to thank Harry, Nancy, and Chris Quigley (Mitchell’s Director of Administration) for taking time out of their busy schedules not only to honor the award winners by attending the reception, but also by giving me a wonderful experience of Congress.