posted September 2, 2009

Joanne Stewart to Speak Through "Last Lecture Series"

Dr. Joanne Stewart of the Hope College chemistry faculty will present the address "Growing into a life of leadership and service: Putting the pieces together at Hope" on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel through the "Last Lecture Series" organized by the college's Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The event is co-sponsored by New Student Orientation and the chapter, and has been scheduled in conjunction with the college's orientation program.

The title of the series, which debuted in November 2008 and features members of the faculty, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college's students.  The professors are being asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the "Last Lecture" delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer--a fact known at the time that he spoke--presented "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Stewart has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1988.  Her professional interests are in chemistry research and science teaching, with an emphasis on projects which blend the two, with teaching and research complementing one another.  She has mentored more than 50 undergraduates in collaborative research, in both her current initiatives and in her work in synthetic inorganic chemistry.

She is director of the interdisciplinary Howard Hughes Medical Institute-funded program at Hope that emphasizes interdisciplinary science education through research and a research-integrated curriculum. She is among the select group of chemists from around the nation leading "IONiC," for "Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists," a program supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop an online resource to help professors of inorganic chemistry work together to improve their teaching.  She was one of only 21 college and university faculty internationally named a Carnegie Scholar for 2005-06 by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), which seeks to establish and refine standards for the critical review of teaching and learning by faculty members in college and university classrooms.

Through the years, Stewart has made presentations on cooperative learning at off-campus workshops sponsored by Project Kaleidoscope, the NSF and the Pew Mid-States Consortium, among others.   In addition to her other work at Hope, she has been a workshop leader during the college's Teaching Enhancement Workshop for new faculty.

During the 2008-09 school year, she was on sabbatical at the University of Queensland, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences in Brisbane, Australia.  She worked on a project in "blended learning," which is the combination of electronic learning with more traditional face-to-face activities.

Stewart is a 1982 graduate of KalamazooCollege.  She completed her doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley in 1988.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 227 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.

The chapter also sponsored a "last chance talk" during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first "last chance talk" in the spring of 1962.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.