Gala reception will recognize Arlene Kanter as newest Meredith Professor
Gala reception will recognize Arlene Kanter as newest Meredith ProfessorApril 07, 2005Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
At an April 14 gala reception, Chancellor Nancy Cantor will recognize the newest Meredith Professor, Arlene Kanter, professor of law and co-director of SU’s Center on Disability Studies, Law and Human Policy. Cantor will also honor 2005 Meredith Professor Gary M. Radke, professor of fine arts in The College of Arts and Sciences, whose appointment was announced last year by Chancellor Emeritus Kenneth A. Shaw.
For 10 years, the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Teaching Professorships have been one of Syracuse University’s highest teaching honors. Recognized for their outstanding teaching, Meredith Professors are accorded lifelong status as members of an honored group of educators.
The Meredith Professorships were created with a substantial bequest from the Meredith estate, with the goal of rewarding the best teaching at SU and fostering research and dialogue on teaching excellence. Two Meredith Professors are named each year to engage in investigations of teaching and learning. They are enrolled for life in the Meredith Symposium as a signal of honor and to provide an ongoing forum for the discussion of teaching excellence.
Each recipient of the honor is designated a Meredith Professor for a period of three years. For each of the three years, they receive a supplementary salary award, a fund to support their research and additional money to be used in developing their academic unit. The reception honoring Kanter and Radke will be held at 2 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel’s Noble Room.
Arlene Kanter is committed to working for social change-especially to working within the law to effect such change, particularly on behalf of people with disabilities. Her approach to teaching is not typical of all law professors. She uses clinical legal education to integrate doctrine, practice and theory more effectively by incorporating the lawyering process and client advocacy into her courses. The clinical programs she has developed and the courses on disability law that she teaches provide students with the opportunity to learn through experience.
“I challenge my students to become not only the best legal thinkers they can be, but also responsible and ethical problem solvers,” says Kanter. “This approach requires students to consider the impact of law on people’s lives, and to develop the skills to understand ethical issues in client representation, to value differences among people and between clients and lawyers, and to reflect on the meaning of justice in today’s society.”
Says Jagdish Chander, a fourth year doctoral candidate in disability studies in the School of Education, “As an international student who is blind, I appreciate her work on behalf of people with disabilities around the world. In addition to being an internationally renowned scholar, what is truly amazing about Professor Kanter is that she is equally a very nice human being and imparts tremendous human values to anyone who comes in contact with her. To me, she is a gift to society and mankind.”
Kanter has served as director of the Office of Clinical Legal Education in the College of Law since 1989. The office’s in-house clinics provide students with the opportunity to work on real cases, under faculty guidance, while also including a rigorous academic component. The clinics help students transition from their course work to lawyers’ work and to make the transition in a purposeful, reflective and competent manner. Kanter also developed the college’s current Externship Program, in which students work alongside judges, governmental lawyers, legal services and legal aid lawyers. Twelve students enrolled in the program when it began in 1991, and today more than 100 participate in the program, externing in Syracuse during the academic year and working in cities across the country during the summer. Beginning this year, externs will be placed in other countries.
Hannah Arterian, dean of the College of Law, nominated Kanter for the Meredith Professorship. “Professor Kanter is passionate about her teaching and is heavily invested in both interdisciplinary work and engagement with students as part of the foundation of her scholarship,” she says.
According to her colleagues, Kanter was also instrumental in helping the College of Law recruit Michael Schwartz to its faculty last year. Schwartz, a scholar in disability law, is deaf and may be one of the first deaf law professors at a major research university.
“Arlene’s leadership in this important recruitment means that students at Syracuse have an opportunity to learn in a way that few other students in the nation, or even internationally, will have,” says Douglas Biklen, professor of cultural foundations of education, disability studies and teaching and leadership in the School of Education.
“Arlene is a rigorous thinker who holds me up to the highest standards for academic achievement as a writer and teacher,” says Schwartz. “The intellectual quality of Arlene’s contribution to my education as a student and teacher is extraordinarily deep, complex and challenging: where I might see one or two, maybe three layers of complexity in an issue, Arlene is thinking a few steps ahead of me, helping me to fully grasp the issue in a way that I would not have been able to do without her input.”
Kanter’s Meredith Project, “Disability Studies Across the Curriculum,” proposes to establish a University-wide disability studies program that will build on the strengths of current programs established in the School of Education and College of Law; connect with the new Center on Disability Studies, Law and Human Policy, under the co-direction of Kanter and School of Education Professor Steven Taylor with a joint effort of faculty and students across colleges; expand course offerings; infuse disability studies throughout curriculum; and enhance the University’s stature as a leading venue for disability studies.
The project has three related components: The development of a new, multidisciplinary introductory “keystone course,” required of all disability studies students; the development of a new “capstone colloquium,” which will provide graduate students in disability studies the opportunity to come together to share research and ideas at the conclusion of their course of study; and the creation of a faculty working group to support the introduction of a disability studies perspective into current undergraduate and graduate academic programs across curricula.
“SU is a leader and innovator in the field of disability studies,” says Kanter. “As a multi-disciplinary field of inquiry, disability studies has the potential to intersect with many, if not all, aspects of academic and co-curricular life at SU. Students are now choosing to attend SU precisely because of these programs.”
Gary Radke sees teaching not only as an opportunity for his students to learn, but also as a way to learn new things himself.
As a professor of fine arts, Radke empowers his students to shape the learning experience in each of the classes he teaches. A strong proponent of experiential learning, Radke brings his students outside the classroom for a range of activities and travel opportunities, and he believes that the interdisciplinary learning and collaborations he has fostered with colleagues have created one-of-a-kind experiences for his students.
“My primary goal is to create communities of learners who can appreciate the complexity and interrelatedness of the world in which we live,” Radke says. Rather than relying strictly on textbooks, Radke gives his students ownership of their lessons. For example, in his Early Renaissance Art course, students write essays in which they respond to the textbook-,co-authored by Radke-to discuss the works that fascinate or bother them. Radke then tailors his lectures around the students’ responses. “I prefer the challenge of having to reconsider the material every time I teach it,” Radke says.
Radke’s encouragement of experiential learning is reflected in many of his courses. A voracious traveler who has spent many semesters and summers teaching in Italy, he knows how travel and the opportunity to experience art and architecture enrich the student learning experience. He has also seen, though, that many students have not been taking advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Out of that observation was born “Michaelangelo’s Italy,” a course taught on the SU campus during the academic year with a nine-day study trip to Florence and Rome during spring break. Radke says the trip enabled students to make new observations on the material they have studied, while helping them become a learning community.
From that successful experience, Radke has collaborated with Meredith Professor Samuel Clemence, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. Their “Leonardo Da Vinci: Artist and Engineer” course, first taught in 2001, brings together engineering and fine arts students to study Da Vinci’s art and engineering achievements through a semester of study and a spring-break trip to Italy and France.
Says Clemence, “Gary Radke is one of the truly outstanding teachers on this campus. He has not just limited his activities to his own profession, but has reached out to students and faculty across campus.”
For his Meredith project, Radke plans to create an annual cross-University faculty seminar to mentor 12 colleagues in developing courses that consider cross-disciplinary perspectives and incorporate travel as a key tool for expanding student and teacher knowledge and interaction. Seminar participants will select a site within 500 miles of Syracuse to visit together in the spring. “I trust that we will be able to see the site from as many different perspectives as possible, modeling activities and experiences that we might provide for our students,” Radke says.
Beyond the opportunity to learn new things from different disciplinary perspectives, Radke wants the seminar to bring its diverse participants together as people-“Sometimes the best time spent together is on the bus – it’s where you can be human,” he says.
In addition to his teaching activities, Radke is a consultant for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, preparing international loan exhibitions. His recent exhibit focusing on the restoration of Andrea del Verrocchio’s bronze “David,” from the National Museum of the Bargello in Florence, ended a celebrated exhibition tour at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in March.
“For me, this is a very special moment in my career,” he says. “My teaching, research and museum work have all come together in a perfectly reinforcing scheme.”