Hendrix Chemistry Professor Dr. Liz U. Gron has been selected as the 2010 Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Gron joined the Hendrix faculty in 1994.
"We knew we were fortunate to get Liz here, but the ensuing 16 years have shown that we had no idea how lucky we were," said Gron’s colleague and friend Dr. Tom Goodwin, Professor of Chemistry. "Liz showed up at Hendrix as a single parent of two young children. It was amazing to see how she organized and balanced her parenting and her professional life. She never missed a beat as she skillfully and successfully juggled her teaching, research, and community service, as well as taking great care of her kids."
"This early, incredible multi-tasking foreshadowed the outstanding career that Liz has evidenced in the intervening years," Goodwin continued. "Liz excels at teaching, mentoring, advising, counseling, research, publications, presentations, proposal writing, organizing meetings and workshops, curricular and laboratory innovation, lab and classroom assessment strategies, and community service, as well as increasingly displaying leadership on a national stage. She is just a whirlwind of activity, a blast of fresh air, an encouraging and compassionate teacher and friend, and an inspirational dynamo."
Dr. Goodwin is well aware of the kind of dedication to teaching exemplified by Professor of the Year honorees. He was received the national Carnegie/CASE Professor of the Year award in 2003.
Hendrix alumna Dr. Eva Hurst was a student of Gron’s. After graduating from Hendrix in 1998, Hurst attended medical school at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, and is now a private practice dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University. She praised Gron’s passion for teaching and tireless devotion to student success.
"I took several courses with Dr. Gron and was always impressed by her teaching skills, but more importantly, by the care and dedication she exhibited for her students," Hurst said. "She is an amazing combination of honesty, kindness, passion, brilliance, and enthusiasm."
In addition to her teaching and research, Gron has also been very active in the local community. Most visibly, she has organized Ridin’ Dirty with Science, an outreach program for Hendrix students to teach science skills and concepts to local students at the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County. In addition to Ridin’ Dirty, Gron is known at the Boys and Girls Club as the "Cookie Lady," a reference to the cookies she uses as an incentive to motivate young children to read.
According to Marie Abrams, Area Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County, many of the students who Gron works with are from single-parent homes and their educational needs are often neglected.
"Dr. Liz is passionate about the children and their ability to succeed," Abrams said. "She has worked one-on-one with students until they could understand their homework … and she has made a definite and noticeable impact on the life of each child."
Also in the local community, Gron has been very active in a holiday outreach project providing Thanksgiving dinners for people in need. In the past year, she raised more than $7,000, involved more than 100 high school students and 30 adults, and fed more than 1,500 people.
Dr. Robert L. Entzminger, Provost and Dean of the College, called Gron’s community leadership a "natural extension" of her work on the Hendrix campus and in the national community of chemistry scholars."
"In an institution, and in a department, that takes justifiable pride in the quality of its faculty, Dr. Gron nonetheless stands out as exceptional," Provost Entzminger said. "The excitement for her subject that she exudes is infectious, and her commitment to the success of all her students is legendary."
Gron accepted the honor at a special awards luncheon in Washington D.C. for state and national honorees. Honorees celebrated at an evening reception at the Folder Shakespeare Library.
Gron has two sons, Erik and Bryan. She and her husband, Dr. John Krebs, Professor of Music at Hendrix, live in Conway.