Marshall Sundberg Named 2016 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor

April 8, 2016

A botany professor with a reputation as both a teacher and researcher is the 2016 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor at Emporia State University.

Dr. Marshall D. Sundberg learned of the honor during a surprise announcement in his Biology of Plants class Friday morning.

“It is the highest teaching award that the university awards,” said ESU President Allison Garrett.

 Sundberg expressed gratitude after the announcement.

“It’s really neat,” he said. “I know many of the members who are Roe Cross (professors) right now. It’s a good group to be with. So I appreciate the honor.”

Sundberg came to Emporia State University in 1997 as professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. He back to full-time faculty in 2004. Before coming to Kansas, Sundberg held academic positions at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire from 1978 to 1985 and Louisiana State University from 1985 to 1997.

“‘Marsh’ began his education seeking a bachelor’s degree to teach secondary science but became caught up in academic botany,” wrote Dr. Richard Schrock in his nomination letter. “This dual teacher-researcher role has expanded across his years at Emporia State University, bringing national attention to ESU through his work in botany and botany education at the national level.”

In his classroom, Sundberg uses a style of teaching called “inquiry learning,” Schrock said, that includes a continuous stream of questions that lead students to form hypotheses, analyze data and question deeper.

“Students who plead ‘just tell me what I have to know for the test’ hate it,” Schrock wrote, “and those who catch on to the questioning skills soon come to realize how critical it will be in their later research.”

The Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor Award has been given since 1979 to the ESU professor who best demonstrates teaching excellence, professional activities, fostering of intellectual atmosphere, service to the university outside the classroom and status as a student mentor. The award includes $1,000 to be used for professional activities. Sundberg is the 38th Roe R. Cross professor.

“We choose one faculty member each year for this designation and the selection is based partly on the scholarly work that the faculty member does,” said Dr. David Cordle, ESU Provost. “We’re looking for an excellent teacher, someone who’s really good at mentoring students and also someone who has provided valuable service to the university over the course of their career. The nominations for the award comes from any faculty member and the selection is made by a committee of the existing Roe R. Cross professors.”

Sundberg earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Carleton College and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in botany from the University of Minnesota. He has been active in academic organizations, including holding national offices. He has written 27 books or book chapters and served on editorial boards of scholarly publications. In the community, Sundberg has been active as a judge at science fairs and in Boy Scouts of America. He currently is assistant scoutmaster of Troop 165 in Emporia.

As the 2016 Roe R. Cross professor, Sundberg will be honored at a university reception. He will be listed in the spring commencement program and be the speaker at the December 2016 commencement.



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