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Nancy Webber
Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculties

Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2008

IU Chancellor's professors and Sonneborn award recipients announced

April 21, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Meredith West, graduate adviser, ombudsman and professor of psychological and brain sciences, and Eliot R. Smith, professor of psychology and cognitive science in the College of Arts and Sciences, along with John Mikesell, director of the Master of Public Affairs Program and professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, have been named Chancellor's Professors.

Chancellor's Professors were created by the IU Office of the Dean of the Faculties in 1995 to recognize faculty who have achieved local, national and international distinction in teaching, research or creative activity, and the interaction between teaching and research. Over the years only 30 other professors have been awarded the title. The recipients will be honored at a reception on April 25 (Friday) 5 to 7 p.m., at the Wells House on 10th Street in Bloomington.

Meredith West, Chancellor's Professor and Sonneborn Award recipient

Meredith West is also the recipient of this year's Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, which was established in 1985 by the Dean of the Faculties office to honor an IU professor who has achieved distinction as a teacher and as a scholar or artist. The award is named for the late Tracy M. Sonneborn, an IU biologist who distinguished himself in both teaching and research. Sonneborn came to IU in 1939 and became internationally known as one of three leading geneticists in the country for his biological studies in genetics. West's Sonneborn lecture will be held in the fall.

Colleagues describe West as a leader in the field of animal behavior. Her work, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on vocalization in starlings and cowbird songbirds. She also works with infants, examining how they vocalize in response to social cues. "She has changed the way we think about and do science on development and social behavior. Many of her writings in this area are classics and will guide the field for years to come," said David White, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. West's work is done in collaboration with her husband, Andrew King, a research scientist at IU.

Her students know her as a professor who inspires and cares about the development of their professional growth and goes to great efforts to further them. Professor Jeffrey Alberts of the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department believes the same remarkable qualities found in Meredith West's impressive research are evident in her teaching, which is "personalized and fully committed, extraordinary in attention to detail, meticulous and gentle," as well as in her style of continuing attention and tracking related to her longitudinal approach.

West has received recognition from her peers in her appointments as fellow of the American Psychological Association, fellow of the American Psychological Society, and fellow and president of the Animal Behavior Society. She is a founding member of the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior and served as editor of two of the top journals in animal behavior, the Journal of Comparative Psychology and Animal Behavior.

Eliot R. Smith, Chancellor's Professor

Eliot Smith

Eliot Smith

Colleagues recognize Eliot Smith as a leading expert in social cognition, focusing on the ways people perceive members of their own and other social groups, interpret their behavior, evaluate them positively or negatively, and interact with them. His research "contributions concern the most fundamental questions about humanity and our social selves -- but he studies them with an innovative vision that connects classic questions of stereotyping, prejudice and inter-group relations to advances in informatics, complexity theory and multi-agent [modeling]" explained Linda Smith, Chancellor's Professor and chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU.

Eliot Smith's laboratory use of virtual reality technology provides exceptional training for numerous graduate students and post-doctoral scholars. Known for innovative undergraduate teaching, he is the author of a widely used undergraduate textbook in social psychology. Besides his patience as an instructor, the focus of his students' devotion is captured in the words of former student, Michael Zárate, now professor at the University of Texas at El Paso -- that he is an "expert at listening to new ideas and helping students sculpt them into productive research programs."

Smith has been honored with the James McKeen Cattell Award, the Thomas M. Ostrom Scholar-In-Residence Award, the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize for the best paper of the year, the Thomas M. Ostrom Award for distinguished contributions to social cognition; and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's Theoretical Innovation Prize. He served as editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review, the field's journal devoted to theoretical contributions, from 2001-2006.

John Mikesell, Chancellor's Professor

Colleagues describe John Mikesell as a luminary in the field of public budgeting and financial management. He is the nation's leading scholar in the area of state and local sales taxation, and is the author of numerous scholarly articles and co-author of the definitive book on this topic, Fiscal Administration (now in its seventh edition). "Through this textbook he has influenced literally tens of thousands of present and future policymakers, budget analysts, fiscal analysts, consultants and academics," stated Kurt Zorn, professor and interim dean of the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He has also served as editor-in-chief for more than 11 years of Public Budgeting and Finance, the premier journal in the field.

In addition to his scholarly published work, Mikesell is in demand as a consultant. "His expertise in all facets of government financing, including financial management and organizational issues, has resulted in his being invited by government leaders at all levels in the U.S., as well as by foreign governments, to advise them on matters pertaining to the public's purse," said Michael Pagano, professor and interim dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recently, Mikesell has provided budget and financial management expertise to a number of transitional economies under the auspices of the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among other organizations.

Besides numerous accolades from his students, Mikesell has received the highest honor that can be bestowed on an individual working in this area -- the Wildavsky Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement in Public Budgeting and Finance given by the Association for Budgeting and Finance Management.

For more information on the Chancellor's Professors or Sonneborn Awards, see, or contact Cyndi Connelley-Eskine at 812-855-9973 or