The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Anderson Named Terrence Murray Commonwealth Honors College Professor

Neal Anderson

Neal Anderson

Professor Neal G. Anderson of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been named the Terrence Murray Commonwealth Honors College Professor. The two-year award was approved through a competitive application process. The Murray Professorship supports distinguished faculty members in developing innovative courses and programs for students in the 3,800-member Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst.

As Dean Tim Anderson of the College of Engineering wrote to Professor Anderson, “I want to congratulate you on being named the Murray Professor. This is recognition of your effectiveness as an educator and contributions to the Commonwealth Honors College. You should take considerable pride from the positive impact you have had on our students over the many years of your tenure at UMass. They are fortunate to have had you as part of their UMass experience.”

According to Neal Anderson, “As Murray Professor, I will be exploring models for honors thesis and project supervision that can be both more effective and more efficient than the traditional ‘one-student-one-mentor’ model. I will be developing and piloting one possible model—a shared mentoring model—over the next two years in ECE. The idea is to effectively complement the focused research supervision by individual faculty chairs with a seminar that addresses generic aspects of research and the thesis-writing process. In addition, I will be engaging other STEM departments across campus about this and other options for better and more efficient delivery of the honors thesis experience.” 

Professor Anderson added that “The Murray Professorship provides an excellent opportunity for me to promote undergraduate research, support the Commonwealth Honors College, and strengthen connections between the College of Engineering and the Honors College—all goals of mine as a UMass faculty member.”

Professor Anderson earned his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 1988 and has since served on the UMass Amherst ECE. His current research focuses on physical foundations of information processing and computation and on fundamental physical considerations that could shape the future evolution of information technologies. He has taught at all levels, undergraduate and graduate, and received the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006. Anderson has had a long involvement with Commonwealth Honors College, including service as ECE Honors Program Coordinator and Director since 1995. 

The Murray Professorship was established in 2003 with a $1 million gift from FleetBoston Financial Foundation in recognition of Terrence Murray, former chairman of FleetBoston Financial Corporation, now Bank of America.

Professor Anderson joins Dean Robinson, Associate Professor of Political Science, who currently holds a Murray Professorship in the Honors College. The professorship first supported programs that integrated community service with academics and then helped create opportunities for students to use new research-quality microscopes to capture crystal-clear cell images. Recently the professorship has aided in the development of an honors course that uses a computer game and team-based learning approaches to teach the topic of genomics. The professorship is awarded for two years with the possibility of a one-year extension. (October 2017)