BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The Illinois Wesleyan student body has selected R. Given Harper,
the George C. and Ella Beach Lewis Endowed Chair of Biology, as the 2015 Student Senate
Professor of the Year.
Harper, who will address the Class of 2015 at the Commencement ceremony on May 3,
said, “I was very honored to learn that I had been named the Student Senate Professor
of the Year. I consider it a real privilege to work with bright, motivated students,
and I enjoy watching them grow intellectually during their time at Illinois Wesleyan.”
As an avian ecologist Harper has taught courses in ecology, ornithology and conservation
biology. He has taken students on 10 May Term Tropical Ecology courses in Costa Rica.
Harper is currently collaborating with Associate Professor of Biology Will Jaeckle,
colleagues at other universities, and a number of IWU students on research to determine
if the relationship of eggshell porosity can be used to establish evolutionary relationships
among flightless birds. In addition to his own papers, he has published 15 papers
in scientific journals with IWU students as co-authors. Harper’s research has been
published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, American Naturalist, Environmental Pollution, Chemosphere, Journal of Field Ornithology,
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Journal of Avian Biology,
Ecology and Behavioral Ecology.
Harper has served as chair of the Biology Department and is currently the Director
of the Environmental Studies Program. He served as co-chair of the Premedical/Predental
Advisory Committee for three years. Active in sustainability efforts on campus, Harper
served as the co-director of the Green Task Force and the co-chair of the Committee
for a Sustainable Campus. He and Abigail Jahiel, Associate Director of the Environmental
Studies program, contributed a chapter to Strategies for Sustainability: Stories from the Ivory Tower (MIT Press, 2004).
A native of Kentucky, Harper received a bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University.
He holds a master’s degree from Western Illinois University in zoology and earned
a doctorate in biology from Illinois State University.
“The Professor of the Year award is a great way for the IWU students to show their
professors just how much they value their hard work and support in and out of the
classroom,” said Student Senate President Jake Thaker ’17. This year 65 professors
were nominated for the award.
In this year’s election, Student Senate also announced Sodexo employee Trish Todd
as the first recipient for Staff Member of the Year. “Illinois Wesleyan has a phenomenal
set of staff members around campus that should also be recognized for their hard work
and commitment to students,” said Thaker.