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Colby-Sawyer College Announces Endowed Faculty Chairs

NEW LONDON, N.H., Oct. 12, 2012 – Colby-Sawyer College has announced the new recipients of two established professorships, Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences Jean Eckrich as the David H. Winton Endowed Chair, and Professor of Natural Sciences Ben Steele as the M. Roy London Endowed Chair.

The investiture for Professors Eckrich and Steele will be held Thursday, Oct. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Clements Hall at the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center, with a reception to follow.

An endowed chair is a position permanently financed in part or in full by the revenue from an endowment fund specifically designated for that purpose. A donation of $1 million is required by Colby-Sawyer to endow a chair. Holding such a professorship is an honor and recognition of excellence in teaching and contributions to leadership on campus.

The David H. Winton Endowed Chair

The new David H. Winton Endowed Chair, Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences and Director of the Teaching Enrichment Center Jean Eckrich, is a scholar and tireless champion of both students and faculty colleagues. An expert in the mechanics and development of human motion, the changing role of women in sports, and appropriate principles and practices for coaches, Professor Eckrich joined the college in 1995. She has published and presented regionally, nationally and internationally with colleagues from across the college as well as with students.

Professor Eckrich served as department chair from 1995 to 2009, during which time she was part of two major curriculum revisions. Among many other initiatives with which she was involved, Professor Eckrich created professional development activities for students outside the classroom; increased the number of faculty within the department; supported the professional development of department members; collaborated on the renovation of Mercer Hall; increased the laboratory equipment and experiences for students; and worked on two successful athletic training accreditation self-studies.

Amy Hebert '10, a Sport Management major who went on to earn her master's degree and has returned to Colby-Sawyer as the college's internship coordinator, recalls Professor Eckrich's excellence in teaching and leadership, and says her influence “overflowed into every aspect of her students' lives both during their time at Colby-Sawyer and after. Jean went beyond the requirements of her position to cultivate our academic, intellectual and personal growth.”

One accomplishment of which Professor Eckrich is especially proud is her collaboration with colleagues to found the annual Susan Colby Colgate Scholars' Symposium, which features seniors' interdisciplinary Capstone projects and undergraduate presentations. John Bossé '08, now a senior scientist in product innovation at USANA Health Sciences in Salt Lake City, Utah, credits Professor Eckrich with encouraging his graduate studies and calls her an exceptional professor, academic advisor, Capstone instructor, mentor and friend. “She always encouraged me to expect more from myself and from my peers,” says Bossé who, with Professor Eckrich's support, presented his work at a national conference. “It is easy to see that Colby-Sawyer would not be the same without her. It takes a special person to be a great teacher, but it takes a Jean Eckrich to do it with such enthusiasm and genuine interest.”

Professor Eckrich's colleague, Associate Professor and Chair of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Russ Medbery, says her commitment to the college is clear and that she goes to great lengths to be available to students in and out of the classroom. “Jean creates an environment that challenges students to take responsibility for learning,” he says. “Her commitment to educating students …has been extended in her role as director of the Teaching Enrichment Center, where she is able to support Colby-Sawyer faculty in their quests for teaching excellence. It is clear that Professor Eckrich loves this college and this community. She demonstrates this love by committing herself fully to the educational and governance goals of the college.”

In addition to her teaching and leadership roles, Professor Eckrich founded the Teaching Enrichment Center at Colby-Sawyer in 2009. Her role as director has been informed by her second sabbatical in 2010, during which she was a visiting scholar at Elon University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. At Colby-Sawyer, Professor Eckrich has overseen the development and implementation of a four-day orientation program as well as a monthly seminar series for new faculty. She also has developed a series of online resources for faculty and leads small group instructional diagnosis sessions for individual faculty members.

Professor Eckrich holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, an M.S. from University of Wyoming and a B.S. from University of Delaware.

The David H. Winton Endowed Teaching Chair, named for an honorary life trustee and longtime chair of the Board of Trustees, was established to honor and recognize the excellence of long-standing members of the teaching faculty.

The M. Roy London Endowed Chair

The new M. Roy London Endowed Chair, Professor and Chair of Natural Sciences Ben Steele, is an engaged and innovative teacher and scholar whose rigorous and sustained research directly benefits Colby-Sawyer students.

Professor Steele joined the college in 1988, and his teaching and research reflect his strong interests in animal behavior, conservation biology, ecology and evolution. He has presented at conferences throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, Austria and Finland.

For nearly a decade, Professor Steele has devoted his summers to a research project on the Common Eider in Finland, where he studies the sea duck's social behaviors. He has invited multiple students to work with him at the Tvärminne Zoological Station, located 62 miles southwest of Helsinki. “In terms of the experience for students,” says Professor Steele, “working on a large research project with a whole bunch of people doing different things is really valuable in order to see what research is all about and what people do in science in terms of ideas and careers.”

One student who accepted the invitation was biology major Colby Chase '11, who designed his own research project and spent a month studying the factors affecting incubation constancy in the Common Eider. To spend that much time with a professor off campus and working in the field at a zoological station was, he says, amazing.

“Ben is a truly passionate, remarkable professor,” says Chase. “His knowledge and concern for student achievement are assets to each student and the Colby-Sawyer College community. He was a great teacher who pushed me to work hard and come up with a strong senior research project.”

That Professor Steele, who often works “quietly but persistently to create opportunities so others can thrive and excel,” would reach out to promising students and include them in his own research interests comes as no surprise to a faculty colleague in the Natural Sciences Department. “Long before engaged learning was in vogue, Ben was experimenting with it in his own classrooms,” his colleague says. “His experimentation does not come at the expense of rigor. Without a doubt, Ben is a dedicated and innovative teacher who models best practices for us all. He is a gifted colleague who for years has shown low-key but important leadership in nearly everything he has done for the college community. He models the values of the liberal arts tradition we espouse as few of us can. The college is a better institution for his many contributions, but he would be the last to say so.”

Professor Steele is also engaged as a leader on campus, having served as the elected faculty representative to the college's board of trustees. He served as faculty moderator for six years, as well as on the faculty development and research committee and other committees and task forces. Professor Steele was the cofounder of the non-profit research and educational institution New England Institute for Landscape Ecology in 1992 and has served on the Lake Sunapee Protective Association's scientific advisory committee.

Professor Steele earned a B.A. from Harvard University, M.S. from Utah State University and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College.

The M. Roy London Endowed Chair was established in honor of an educator who spent more than 30 years at the college as a teacher and dean. The benefactors' intent was that this endowed professorship should be held by faculty members whose work and vocation combine excellence in teaching with an influential and attentive persona on campus and in the wider community.

Past Recipients of Endowed Professorships

Colby-Sawyer College established its first two endowed chairs, the David H. Winton Endowed Chair and the M. Roy London Endowed Chair, in 2002, to be held for a period of five years. Professor of Humanities Ann Page Stecker was selected as the first David H. Winton Endowed Teaching Chair in 2002, followed by Professor of Social Sciences and Education Randy Hanson in 2007.

Professor of Social Sciences and Education Joseph Carroll was selected as the inaugural M. Roy London Endowed Chair in 2002, followed by then Professor of Business Administration and currently Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies Leon-C. Malan in 2007. All the professors selected for these endowed professorships retain their titles indefinitely.

Learn more about the academic programs at Colby-Sawyer College at

-Kate Dunlop Seamans

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000