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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 5, 2004

Mutel Receives Prestigious Hubbard Teaching Award

Robert Mutel, professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been named the recipient of the 2004 Philip G. Hubbard Award for Outstanding Education.

The honor, recognizing a UI faculty member for extended teaching excellence, includes a cash award of $17,100 provided by Dr. Joseph A. Walder, M.D. Ph.D., former faculty member in the UI Department of Biochemistry and founder of Integrated DNA Technologies Inc., Coralville, Iowa. The award will be formally presented during the University Convocation at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 5) in Macbride Auditorium.

Mutel, a UI faculty member since 1975, is nationally known for using robotic telescopes he has developed -- one of which is located in Arizona and operated remotely using the Web -- to enhance the learning experience of more than 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students since 1991. In short, Mutel has enabled many students to use telescopes, instead of just textbooks, to make observations. For his part, Mutel simply says, "I love to teach."

"Robert Mutel's mastery of teaching has benefited students across all levels, from graduate students to undergraduates," says UI President David J. Skorton. "His work in developing robotic telescopes and the associated curriculum has had a dramatic effect on the way astronomy is taught here and around the country. On top of his expertise, Bob brings enthusiasm, dedication and careful thought to all his interactions with students."

"Bob Mutel is not only a master teacher and mentor at all levels, but his contributions to undergraduate astronomy education have had a lasting impact far beyond our campus and are nothing short of revolutionary," says CLAS Dean Linda Maxson. "Most conspicuous among his many contributions are the Iowa Robotic Telescope Facilities, a network of robotic telescopes. He continues to be a pioneer and innovator in the use of instructional technology and is now blazing the trail for the integration of personal response systems in the classroom, in particular to increase the interactivity of large lecture courses."

"Many of Bob's former graduate students are now in influential positions at major astronomical observatories," says Department of Physics and Astronomy Chair Thomas Boggess, "including the Caltech/Owen's Valley Radio observatory, the MIT/Haystack Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He spends at least as much energy (and probably more) on undergraduate education. He has also frequently interacted with high school students, both in the classroom and in summer research programs. In short, Bob simply covers all the bases as an educator."

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Mutel has served on a number of CLAS committees and task forces involving instructional technology, as well as the University's Council on Teaching. In 1998, he received the first UI President's Award for Technology Innovation. He also received the UI Collegiate Teaching Award in 1997 and the Distinguished Science Teacher Award from the Iowa Academy of Sciences in 1997. He has served on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Undergraduate Curriculum Advisory Board, as well as the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education review panel. He has supervised 10 doctoral degree students and 11 master's degree students, all in the field of radio interferometry.

The Hubbard Award honors the memory of Philip G. Hubbard (1921-2002), a member of the UI College of Engineering Legacy of Iowa Engineering, whose life and career advanced the university for half a century. After receiving a UI bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and UI master's and doctoral degrees in mechanics and hydraulics, he served as professor of mechanical engineering from 1954 until his retirement in 1991. He also served as research engineer in the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research (IIHR) from 1946-66, Dean of Academic Affairs from 1966-71, Vice President for Student Services from 1971-90 and founder and director of Opportunity At Iowa from 1987-90. As a UI administrator, Hubbard led the university toward racial equality, thus reshaping its future. Praised for his mental agility and for being the first African-American in several positions (including the first vice president in a Big Ten university), he is perhaps better remembered for his fine human qualities: his strong but kindly manner, and the patience, persistence, and leadership that he demonstrated as counsel to six UI presidents.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu.