Gitlin, Urry honored with Lamar Faculty Awards

Rahul Prasad, Professor Meg Urry, Professor Akhil Reed Amar, Professor Jay Gitlin, Weili Cheng.
Left to right: AYA Board of Governors Chair Rahul Prasad ’84 M.S., ’87 Ph.D.; honoree Professor Meg Urry; presenter Professor Akhil Reed Amar ’80, ’84 J.D.; honoree Professor Jay Gitlin ’71, ’74 Mus.M., ’02 Ph.D;. AYA Executive Director Weili Cheng ’77. (Photo credit: Tony Fiorini)

Faculty members Jay Gitlin ’71, ’74 Mus.M., ’02 Ph.D. and Meg Urry are this year’s recipients of the Howard R. Lamar Faculty Awards, presented annually to faculty who have made significant contributions to alumni programs and demonstrated exemplary leadership for alumni relations.

The awards were presented by Rahul Prasad ’84 M.S., ’87 Ph.D., chair of the AYA Board of Governors, at an April 27 luncheon hosted by the Association of Yale Alumni in conjunction with its quarterly Board of Governors meeting.

These awards and citations have underscored the indebtedness of the Yale community worldwide to these remarkable scholars and teachers who have embraced graduates as their students,” said Prasad, “whether they are 20 or 50 or 70.”

The inaugural awards were bestowed in 2014 and named for Howard Lamar, the 21st president of the university and Sterling Professor Emeritus of History. Lamar was one of the inaugural recipients, alongside Marie Borroff, Donald Kagan, and Vincent Scully Jr. Subsequent recipients are listed on the AYA website.

The citations for Gitlin and Urry follow:

Jay Gitlin ’71, ’74 Mus.M., ’02 Ph.D.

Lecturer in History, and Associate Director of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers & Borders

We know you as a scholar who focuses on the history of the French in the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, a renowned speaker popular for your knowledge of pop culture, and a gifted musician whose very lectures sing out to audiences both learned and learning.

Above all, you are true ambassador for the university and an inspiration to Yale alumni throughout the world, a teacher who has run the gamut of the alumni experience, possessed with the language and mien to communicate that experience to those who hang on your every word. An alumnus who calls New Haven his own, you are an enthusiastic historian of all things Yale, a speaker for Development events and Yale College Reunions, and a professor who has traveled far and wide as the instructor on Yale Educational Travel programs.

Of particular note was your initiative to customize a Redpath Seminar for the city of St. Louis’s 250th anniversary, an event that became a model for Redpath events going forward. Your selflessness is one of your hallmarks; never one to dominate the spotlight, you reached out to other professors and historians to participate as symposium speakers  –  generating a wealth and breadth of knowledge for those fortunate enough to attend.

Whether it’s teaching about American Indian or French colonial history, you have the unique ability to capture the essence of a topic and the complete attention of your audience. It is wonderful to witness, the kind of command performance only a true musician can muster.  

C. Megan (Meg) Urry

Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy

From your arrival on campus 15 years ago, you have been a friend to the Yale community, giving of your time and knowledge to enrich the lives of so many who have attended your talks and lectures, and who have traveled with you to the far reaches of the world  –  from the tundra of Antarctica to the beaches of Hawaii. Current students, as well, have benefitted from your advice at our Careers, Life and, Yale events.

Your love of Yale and commitment to lifelong learning for alumni have been demonstrated both through your dedication and your generosity. Regardless of the setting or the topic, your warmth, intelligence, curiosity, and passion shine through.

Thousands of alumni have learned about Yale’s dynamic science programs from you, and they have heralded your talks for their clarity, relatability, and unfettered brilliance. For someone who has spent a career looking at the stars, you remain remarkably grounded  – a combination that has truly resonated.

You are a giant in your field, the recipient of the multiple prizes from the American Astronomical Society, a champion of women in science, and a prolific writer and researcher, yet, alumni audiences are never intimidated or overwhelmed. They are in the presence of a gifted teacher, and are wiser for having spent time with a guide who possesses the unique ability to shine a light on the structure of a black hole.

Slideshow: 2018 Howard R. Lamar Faculty Awards

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E.J. Crawford: ej.crawford@yale.edu, 203-436-3632