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Four Faculty Named Distinguished Professors

University honors Begbie, Klein, Wirzba and Zavlanos

New distinguished professors: Jeremy Begbie, Emily Klein, Michael Zavlanos and Norman Wirzba.
New distinguished professors: Jeremy Begbie, Emily Klein, Michael Zavlanos and Norman Wirzba

Duke University has awarded distinguished professorships to four faculty members.  The professorships were approved by Duke Trustees at a recent meeting.

Distinguished professorships are the university’s highest compliment to its faculty, recognizing both exceptional achievement and leadership.

The new appointees are:

Emily KleinUniversity Distinguished Service Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences in the Nicholas School of the Environment, effective July 1. The award recognizes exceptional service to Duke. For more than two decades, Klein has been a faculty leader, particularly on issues of diversity and inclusion and the undergraduate experience. Among her many roles, she served as chair of the university’s Faculty Diversity Task Force Implementation Committee in 2016, establishing strategic policies and practices to strengthen Duke’s recruitment and retention of female faculty, LGBTQ faculty and faculty from other underrepresented minorities. She has also served as faculty director for the Baldwin Scholars Program, which increases leadership opportunities for female undergraduates.

Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Professor of Theology in the Divinity School, July 1. Begbie teaches systematic theology and specializes in the interface between theology and the arts.  His particular research interests are in the interplay between music and theology. His most recent book, “Redeeming Transcendence in the Arts: Bearing Witness to the Triune God,” explores how Christian involvement in the arts can be shaped by the distinctive vision of God’s transcendence opened up through Jesus Christ.

Norman Wirzba is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian Theology in the Divinity School, effective July 1. Holding a joint appointment with the Nicholas School of the Environment, his research and teaching has focused on the intersections of theology, philosophy, ecology, and agrarian and environmental studies, with the goal of understanding and promoting practices that can equip both rural and urban church communities to be more faithful and responsible members of creation.

Michael Zavlanos, Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh Jr. Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in the Pratt School of Engineering, effective July 1 for five years.  This is a Bass Professorship, given to faculty for their excellence in both teaching and research. Part of the Pratt School’s growing robotics group, Zavlanos's research focuses on control theory and robotics and, in particular, networked systems, distributed control and optimization, and formal methods and control synthesis, with applications to robot motion and task planning, optimal wireless networking, and distributed sensing and estimation.

In May, the university awarded 26 other distinguished professorships.