Stranger Fruit

Mr Lynch Goes To Washington

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.


  1. #1 Jesika
    November 17, 2007

    Congratulations, John! That is a great honor, one that you truly deserve. I’m glad to hear you had such an exciting trip, complete with backstage glimpses of the Capitol.

  2. #2 Tara C. Smith
    November 17, 2007

    Congrats! Too bad you had to miss the monkey meet-up…

  3. #3 Left_Wing_Fox
    November 17, 2007


  4. #4 Bruce Thompson
    November 17, 2007

    I would like to add my best wishes as well. A commitment to undergraduate education in a large research university takes special talent and it seems the skills needed to train undergraduates are often lacking in many faculty. I’m glad you talents are recognized by ASU and hope they come through with the bucks in recognition of your efforts.

    Nah they probably won’t.

  5. #5 Abel Pharmboy
    November 17, 2007

    Heartiest congratulations, Professor Lynch. Bruce has already seized upon the sentiment I had wished to express.

    ASU and the greater Phoenix area are becoming such a scientific/biotech powerhouse that I fear undergraduate education might get lost in the myopic pursuit of biomedical research funds, or the gold rush for state appropriations and philanthropic dollars to fuel capital construction. Without strong undergraduate education today, there will be no professionals to staff such buildings in the future.

    It is a testament to you that your gifts compelled ASU/Barrett to tender your nomination, let alone to then to win outright in a large state with some really tremendous educational institutions.

    Your colleagues and your students should consider themselves fortunate to share in the scholarly environment you have cultivated. Perhaps the philanthropists might one day consider endowing the Lynch Chair for the History of Biology.

    Well done, John!

  6. #6 John Pieret
    November 17, 2007

    Kudos on the well-deserved award.

  7. #7 DLC
    November 17, 2007

    Good for you! congratulations.

  8. #8 Paul Hutchinson
    November 18, 2007

    Congratulations John!

  9. #9 Russell Blackford
    November 18, 2007


  10. #10 Mark
    November 18, 2007


    I was there also, sorry I missed you (the state winner from Missouri).

    My congressman, Roy Blunt (R-MO; I cringe as I write that) was also at the reception.

    Congratulations again, now I need to catch up on my sleep.

  11. #11 gerald spezio
    November 18, 2007

    Professor Lynch; most especially as a scientist, do you ever question or even second guess your flying behavior and its CO2 production?

  12. #12 Mike P
    November 18, 2007

    Congrats, John. There’s certainly not a more deserving professor in Arizona.

  13. #13 edward hessler
    November 22, 2007

    Congratulations John. Randy is a good friend and I’m pleased to know that you follow and are now a part of this honorable lineage. A high honor indeed. And deserved.

    Best wishes.

  14. #14 The Ridger
    November 22, 2007


  15. #15 Monado
    November 23, 2007

    Congratulations! I still have fond memories of my biology profs from university days. It’s nice that you were recognized for your teaching–so often it’s an undervalued skill. And I hope it translates into more money: that’s how I like to be recognized.

  16. #16 Jim Lippard
    November 26, 2007

    Congratulations, John!

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