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Establishing endowed professorships is a top priority during Ohio University's Bicentennial Campaign, which seeks to raise $200 million in time for the university's 200th birthday in 2004. The $250,000 endowment necessary to establish a professorship provides funds, in perpetuity, for a salary supplement, as well as funds to be used at the scholar's discretion for research, travel to conferences and symposia, professional development, and other expenses related to scholarship. As a testament to the university's belief in these endowed positions, we provide the faculty line to support the remainder of the individual's salary as well as his/her benefits.

These endowed faculty positions are the most important investment you can make in the future of Ohio University. Visit this Web site to meet the University's current endowed chairs and named professors.

Giving to Ohio

Over the Phone:
1-800-592-FUND (3863)

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By Mail:
The Ohio University Foundation
P.O Box 869
Athens, OH 45701-0869


September 24, 2003
Professorship allows Chamberlin to touch lives, conduct important research
By Ciare Thorn

Rush Elliott - Ohio University alumnus, esteemed professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1956 to 1966 - left behind a trail of individuals who laud him as a brilliant lecturer and terrific mentor. In honor of his fervor for teaching, former students, colleagues, friends and family toiled to establish the Rush Elliott Endowed Professorship.

The Elliott Professorship recognizes Ohio University biological sciences professors who carry on its namesake's legacy of outstanding teaching and student advising. Mary Chamberlin, Ph.D., the first recipient of the professorship, embodies the dedication to teaching, mentoring and research that was characteristic of Dr. Elliott and furthers his tradition of excellence.

Chamberlin - who received her bachelor's in zoology from the University of California at Davis and Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia - is a firm believer that students should be held to rigorous standards. "It is much better to set the bar of achievement a bit too high rather than much too low," she says. Students, she adds, appreciate a professor's expectation of excellence from them so long as, "they have been well-prepared for the challenge and the expectations are fair."

Chamberlin began her career with Ohio University in 1984 as an associate professor. Since then, she has taught courses in medical school renal and gastrointestinal physiology as well as undergraduate Principles of Physiology courses. Chamberlin has also been instrumental in developing and maintaining the state of the art Ohio University Principles of Physiology laboratories.

In her courses, you'll find no PowerPoint presentations, multiple-choice exams or class notes posted online. She relies upon an overhead projector and blackboard when showing students the relationship between abstract formulas and concrete life processes. Class attendance is not required but highly recommended.

With her stringent lesson plans, Chamberlin is aware that students are often discouraged when first presented with her course structure. But she recognizes that later, most come to appreciate the challenge and rise to the occasion.

"Dr. Chamberlin's exams are definitely challenging," says Honors Tutorial College student Christina Penaranda, a junior. "They test knowledge and understanding, not memorization. But I don't think it is one of the most difficult classes that I have taken because she was so clear in class and many times explained things in different ways so that it was easier to remember the material."

In the University environment, Chamberlin believes that "student engagement is essential; the learning process is 90 percent student responsibility." She realizes students are inundated with myriad tasks outside of the classroom. Chamberlin says that she has recognized a lack of confidence in students when it comes to making "educated guesses."

She prods her students to develop aptitude in hypothesis making based on acquired knowledge because, quite frankly, "if one becomes a doctor, such educated guesses are diagnoses and it is essential that they be correct."

"In securing this position I felt as though the University was sending me a good message," says Chamberlin about the Elliott Professorship. "They were saying to me that, yes, you can challenge students and they will rise to the occasion."

She appreciates the professorship because it signals that the University is cognizant of the "professional balance that must be struck between being an effective mentor to students, administrative activities and one's own scholarly pursuits."

Teaching, for Chamberlin, is not a task that ends after each class period. Although she has always had a love for animals and a passion for science, she recognizes that her subject matter is far from easy. She knows that in order to be truly effective in the academic lives of students, one must be available long after class is done.

Through office hours, scheduled appointments and e-mail, Chamberlin always wants to convey to her students that she is a resource to be utilized. "Definitely go to class," Penaranda says. "She is very nice and, if you show that you care, she will definitely do her best to explain the material. She will also give you advice on how to study."

Although Chamberlin says that mammals are the best systems for teaching some physiological processes, she has "always been more fond of the invertebrates, the creepy, crawlers." The Elliott Professorship has allowed her to advance her own research on the tobacco hornworm.

Chamberlin's current areas of concentration are the developmental changes in insect ion-transporting epithelia and the regulation of insect mitochondrial metabolism. The Elliott Professorship has furthered both her academic and professional development. She has had the opportunity to participate in additional science conferences and even to enroll in a course at Cold Springs Harbor, a renowned molecular biology lab in Long Island, N.Y.

The Rush Elliott Professorship serves to honor professors who exemplify excellence in teaching, research and establishing meaningful contact in the lives of students. Chamberlin, during her 19 years with Ohio University, has certainly excelled in these areas.

"She has not only been my professor but also my advisor and research director," Penaranda says. "She is very approachable and gives great advice. She is one of those people whom you can sit down and talk to and forget about time. Research-wise she is a great director because she lets me think about what I am doing and when she suggests I do something, she tells me why. This is very important so that in the future I know what kinds of things to keep in mind."

Chamberlin feels that she has found her niche with teaching. "It is so rewarding to see the light bulb of understanding click on inside the head of a student," she says. With her unique teaching methods and dedication to students, it is apparent that she is responsible for much illumination within Ohio University's classrooms.

Ciare Thorn is a development communication assistant in the Division of University Advancement


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