sealPurdue News

September 4, 1998

Distinguished profs named on basis of teaching

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Three Purdue University faculty members who have made their marks as teachers and scholars have been named distinguished professors.

They are Robert J. Herrick, the Robert A. Hoffer Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology; Cynthia Stohl, the Margaret Church Distinguished Professor of Communication; and Phillip C. Wankat, the Clifton L. Lovell Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.

"These faculty have been particularly outstanding in helping students learn," said Robert L. Ringel, executive vice president for academic affairs. "Teaching is a cornerstone of Purdue's mission, along with research and service, and I am pleased that we have set aside these distinguished professorships to acknowledge and promote such efforts.

"Each of these individuals has established a first-rate reputation for his or her scholarship. In addition, they are consistently recognized by students and their professional peers as superior faculty in the classroom or other teaching and learning settings. These colleagues demonstrate the essential relationship between working at the cutting edge of one's discipline and the commitment to share knowledge with students."

Their appointments, ratified today (Friday, 9/4) by the Purdue Board of Trustees, bring to six the number of Purdue faculty awarded distinguished professorships on the basis of teaching excellence. The trustees also:

  • Confirmed the appointment of Thomas B. Robinson, who earlier this year was named vice president for student services. He came to Purdue from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he was vice chancellor for student affairs.

  • Honored former Purdue Professor Ben J. Winer, a leader in statistical analysis for social sciences, by adding his name to the distinguished professorship awarded in May to psychology Professor Terry Powley. Powley now will be known as the Ben J. Winer Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences.

  • Renamed the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center as The Zucrow Laboratories in honor of the founder and first director of the center, Maurice J. Zucrow. The Zucrow Laboratories is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Herrick, the assistant head of the Department of Electrical Engineering Technology, joined the Purdue faculty in 1989 following 10 years of teaching at the University of Toledo and Western Michigan University, and 12 years working for Bell Telephone Laboratories and the ITT Advanced International Technology Center.

Robert T. Herrick
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In 1993 he was awarded the university's highest teaching award as well as the top teaching honor given by the students in the School of Technology and in his department. In 1998, the American Society for Engineering Education awarded him the Outstanding Teaching Award for its Illinois-Indiana Division.

He is a charter member of the Purdue Teaching Academy, which is dedicated to improving teaching at all levels, and serves on its executive committee. He also served on the original Purdue Committee for Educating Teaching Assistants for which he organized a national teaching workshop. His own national teaching workshops have reached hundreds of educators, and he has been a department leader in the development of new curriculum.

He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University in 1968 and his master's from Purdue in 1969.

His professorship is named in honor of Robert A. Hoffer, the founding president and chief executive officer of Hoffer Plastics Corp. in South Elgin, Ill. Hoffer graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1941 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1986. The company he began in 1953 is now the largest custom injection molding corporation in the United States. Hoffer and his wife, Helen, have funded three laboratories in the Purdue School of Technology.

Stohl, the head of the Department of Communication and co-chairwoman of the Purdue Teaching Academy, joined the Purdue faculty in 1982 and has won eight teaching honors, including the university's highest award in 1993.

Cynthia Stohl
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The author of more than 40 book chapters and articles on globalization and organizational communication processes, Stohl has introduced several courses in this area into the Purdue curriculum. Her communication textbook received the 1995 National Communication Association's Organizational Communication Best Book Award and is widely used in the United States and Europe. She also has received nine "top paper" awards at national and international conventions.

Stohl has served as the major professor for 30 doctoral and master's students and served as a member of 37 doctoral and master's committees. She has been a featured speaker at more than 75 international and national research conventions, presentations and workshops in the United States, Europe and New Zealand.

She earned her bachelor's degree from the State University College of New York at Buffalo, and her master's and doctoral degrees from Purdue.

Her distinguished professorship is named for Margaret Church, who was a professor of English at Purdue for more than two decades and was the first woman who earned a full professorship in the School of Liberal Arts (then the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education).

"Professor Church's scholarship was matched by her talent as a teacher," Ringel said. "Undergraduate and graduate students alike wrote of her superb teaching. She was also a mentor to many young women entering the profession in the 1960s and 1970s."

Wankat, a professor of chemical engineering who is the former head of freshman engineering, joined the Purdue faculty in 1970. In addition to his teaching and counseling awards at Purdue, he has received seven national awards for teaching and for research. He has supervised more than 25 master's degree students and 18 doctoral students and has advised engineering freshman as well as students majoring in chemical engineering.

Phillip C. Wankat
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Wankat is the author of four books, one of which is a book about improving teaching in engineering. He has written 16 book chapters, more than 100 technical papers, and more than 35 papers on improving teaching. He has presented numerous papers and workshops on teaching and technical topics at conferences, schools and short courses.

He earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and a master's degree in education, both from Purdue, and his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

His professorship is named for Clinton L. Lovell, who taught at Purdue from 1934 until 1947. Lovell was the first to introduce several modern ideas to the chemical engineering curriculum, including unit operations, distillation, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and applied mathematics. Lovell also was instrumental in pointing to new research directions and he supervised the first chemical engineering theses in fluid mechanics, distillation and biochemical engineering.

Sources: Robert Herrick, (765) 494-7495; e-mail,

Cynthia Stohl, (765) 494-3300; e-mail,

Phillip Wankat, (765) 494-0814

Robert Ringel, (765) 494-9709

Writer: Jeanne Norberg (765) 494-2084; e-mail,,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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