Hilary Kornblith, philosophy; Julie A. Caswell, resource economics; and Stephen G. Sireci, education, were appointed Distinguished Professors following approval by the Board of Trustees at its June 20 meeting.
The title Distinguished Professor is conferred on select, highly accomplished faculty who have already achieved the rank of professor and who meet a demanding set of qualifications.
In their nomination letter, Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and Provost Katherine Newman wrote, “Over the past 33 years, Dr. Kornblith has built an international reputation as a champion and leading proponent of ‘naturalized epistemology,’ an approach to the study of knowledge described by philosophy department head Joseph Levine as ‘one of the dominant areas of philosophy in the Anglo-American tradition.’ This branch of philosophy argues for the use of science, especially empiricism, rather than reflection to understand what we know, how we know it, and how to predict the future.”
Kornblith began his career at the University of Vermont where he rose to the rank of professor and served as department chair before coming to UMass Amherst in 2003. He served as philosophy department head here from 2010-13.
Julie Hayes, dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, said, “His three monographs, “Inductive Inference and it Natural Ground,” “Knowledge and its Place in Nature” and “On Reflection,” as well as a series of influential articles and edited volumes, have established him as one of the most important philosophers of his generation.”
He has been awarded numerous grants, fellowships and honors and has lectured at scores of college and universities. At least a dozen of his essays have been reprinted. Colleagues and reviewers frequently comment on the beauty of his writing.
In addition, Louise Antony, chair of the philosophy personnel committee, writes, “Professor Kornblith has a sterling record as a teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His graduate courses are always well-subscribed. He is in high demand as a dissertation director (directing more dissertations, probably, than anyone else in the department) and as a dissertation committee member and pre-dissertation advisor.”
One philosopher who holds a different perspective from Kornblith’s wrote, “He’s one of the philosophers whose disagreements make me the most worried about my views.”
“In sum,”writes one of the reviewers, “Kornblith is clearly a highly distinguished member of our profession,and at the top of his game.His work is original and ambitious. He is an intellectual leader in our field, who would be a real asset to any university in the country.”
Kornblith is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds a master’s and doctorate from Cornell University.
Julie A. Caswell
Subbaswamy and Newman note that Caswell is internationally recognized for her work on the safety, labeling, certification, and regulation of food—a domain over which one external reviewer describes her as “the leading authority.”
They write, “External reviewers consistently cite Dr. Caswell’s preeminence as a scholar in her field, often describing not only her influence on other scholars’ work but also her influence on regulatory decisions made by governments and other policy makers. One reviewer calls her ‘a world-renowned expert’ in her field. Others suggest that she has been largely responsible for defining the field.”
Caswell joined UMass Amherst in 1984 after receiving her Ph.D. in economics and agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was promoted to professor in 1994 and served as department chair from 2002-12. She has been associate dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences since 2014.
She is widely respected for her more than three decades of ongoing high productivity and for “grooming the next generation of leaders” in the field by mentoring and collaborating with them.
She has published more than 60 refereed articles, including, as the department personnel committee notes, “14 in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the top journal in her field.” She has also published six edited books and three dozen book chapters.
She has been honored by a variety of national and international organizations, such as the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and the Northeast Agricultural and Resource Economics Association.
Reviewers note that she has made pioneering discoveries in four areas: the economics of food labeling; the economics of food safety; policies promoting food safety regulation; and the effects of food regulation on international trade. One wrote, “Taken alone, the record of her contributions in any one of these specific areas would be viewed as outstanding for a full professor. Taken together, they are truly remarkable. She has made seminal contributions in each of these areas and, in the process, she has effectively defined the scope and agenda for research on the economics of food quality.”
Another reviewer wrote, “Prof. Caswell’s nomination for distinguished professor could easily be based on her teaching – or her public service – both of which have been outstanding.”
Her many awards include Outstanding Public Service through Economics, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association; Woman of Influence in the Food Industry, Griffin Report of Food Marketing; Outstanding Achievements in Research and Creative Activity, UMass Amherst; Fellow, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association; Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia (University of Tuscia), Viterbo, Italy; Presenter of the 2nd Annual Kenneth R. Farrell Distinguished Public Policy Lecture at the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, Canada; and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal as a Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.
Stephen G. Sireci
In their nomination letter, Subbaswamy and Newman wrote, “Over the last 22 years, Dr. Sireci has built an international reputation as an expert on educational testing, especially test and measurement validity and accommodations for special populations. His 130 peer-reviewed publications have helped establish that reputation, leading to repeated contracts and grants with the U.S. Department of Education, the Educational Testing Service, the College Board, and Pearson Educational Measurement. Since 1995, he has attracted some $10 million in external funding.”
Sireci began his now-distinguished career at UMass in 1995 after receiving his Ph.D. from Fordham University and after holding positions as a psychometrician at the American Council on Education and at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2000 and promoted to the rank of professor just four years later. Currently he directs the Center for Educational Assessment.
Among his most influential publications is his 2007 seminal paper on validity theory and test validation in the American Educational Research Association’s pre-eminent journal Educational Researcher.
His numerous awards include the Chancellor’s Award and the Conti Faculty Fellowship Award on campus, and recognition as a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and as a fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics.
One reviewer cites his “technical rigor [and] the clarity and quality of the language he uses in dealing with complex issues.”
Another writes, Sireci “epitomizes the scientist-practitioner and has used his professional collaborations with testing programs as a vehicle to disseminate best practices and new measurement methods that cannot only benefit academics and students, but also informs practitioners on how to improve their assessment programs.”
As a teacher in the College of Education department of educational policy, research and administration, Sireci wrote that over his career, his commitment to mentoring graduate students continues “but now I also realize I also have a responsibility to mentor junior faculty. Thus, over the past few years, I have tried hard to work with my colleagues to not only help them build their careers, but to help them build their careers in a way that simultaneously elevates our center and the students we serve.”
Sireci has served on more than two dozen national commission, blue-ribbon panels and advisory committees.
Honors include the Chancellor’s Award; fellow, Division of Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics, American Psychological Association; fellow, American Educational Research Association; Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity, UMass Amherst; Thomas Donlon Award for Distinguished Mentoring (Northeastern Educ. Research Assoc.); Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Award, UMass Amherst; Leo D. Doherty Award for Outstanding Leadership & Service, Northeastern Educational Research Association; UMass Amherst Public Engagement Fellow.
Qualifications for the title of Distinguished Professor include outstanding research, teaching, and/or public service contributions that are widely recognized; an extraordinary level of productivity and impact in his/her field of study; a level of productivity and impact that has been demonstrated for an extended time; pre-eminence in his/her field; recognition by professional organizations for outstanding contributions; being a person who would be a major loss to the university if he/she were to leave; and being a role model for faculty and students.