URI professor named Rhode Island Professor of the Year

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 19, 2001 — The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education have named Roger LeBrun, an entomology professor at the University of Rhode Island, the 2001 Rhode Island Professor of the Year.

LeBrun is the first recipient of the state award since 1997 and the first URI professor to receive the award since the program was established in 1981. He was selected from among nearly 400 faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country. The awards were presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 13.

A resident of Kingston, LeBrun has taught at URI since 1977 and has been recognized many times for the quality of his teaching and research. In 2000 alone, he was cited for teaching excellence by the URI Foundation, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Almond, and the Entomological Society of America.

URI students and teachers often cite LeBrun’s energy level as one reason he is such a successful teacher. “I do put out a lot of energy into my lectures,” LeBrun said, “but I feed off the energy and vigor of my students. They pull me in and convince me I’m 23 years old again. The nature of college students gives me energy.”

LeBrun also gives credit to his personal mentors, especially professors at his alma mater, Cornell University. “I’m continuing the work of superb teachers who taught me. Their work carries on here at URI. I like to think that I’ve inspired some of my students and they’ll pass along a little bit of me to their students in the future. It’s like my connection to immortality.”
“Teaching is my life,” he continued, “and teaching doesn’t just happen in class. When I sit down in the hallway or in my office with students, I’m teaching. And even at Stop & Shop when I see a student, I’m teaching. It’s what keeps me going.”

In nominating LeBrun for the Carnegie honor, URI Provost M. Beverly Swan wrote, “Dr. LeBrun welcomes the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for entomology with undergraduates and teaches a highly demanding, but very popular, course entitled Humans, Insects and Disease. We are very proud to count Dr. LeBrun among our faculty. He is the ideal colleague and a superb mentor for the faculty of the future.”

Richard Casagrande, LeBrun’s colleague in the URI Department of Plant Sciences, added, “Roger is a first-rate human being. Our students flock to his office seeking friendship and advice.”

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, LeBrun is director of graduate programs in the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences and director of the URI Laboratory for Invertebrate Pathology. His recent research has focused on the diseases transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes, especially Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and eastern equine encephalitis. During the summer of 2001, LeBrun led a research team investigating West Nile virus in national parks in the Northeast.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Providence College and a master’s and doctorate from Cornell University. He holds three patents, has published more than 40 scientific papers and received research grants totaling $1 million.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie “to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching.” The foundation is the only advanced study center for teachers in the world.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of educational institutions, with nearly 2,900 colleges, universities and independent elementary and secondary schools in 44 countries as members.
For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892