St. Olaf College | News

Two faculty members named to distinguished professorships

Professor of Classics James May has been named the Kenneth O. Bjork Distinguished Professor.

Two long-time St. Olaf College faculty members have been appointed to distinguished professorships.

Professor of Classics James May has been named the Kenneth O. Bjork Distinguished Professor, and Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professor.

They are two of several faculty members that the St. Olaf College Board of Regents has chosen to recognize for distinguished teaching, professional work, and service to the college and community.

Bjork chair
An expert in ancient rhetoric and oratory — particularly that of the great Roman speaker and statesman, M. Tullius Cicero — May joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1977 after earning his B.S.Ed. from Kent State University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles and books on Cicero and related topics and co-authoring two textbooks with his colleague Anne Groton, May served as provost and dean of the College from from 2002 to 2011. He has won the American Philological Association’s award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Classics, and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership.

The chair honoring Kenneth O. Bjork was established in 2006. The author of two books, Bjork taught history at St. Olaf from 1937 to 1974 and served as editor for the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) from 1960 to 1980. The inaugural recipient of the chair was Professor of Mathematics Martha Wallace, and it has since been held by Professors of Religion Gary Stansell and Charles Wilson.

Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn has been named the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professor.

Meyer chair
Raised by missionary parents in India, Zorn earned his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle. He joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1981. He is past editor of Mathematics Magazine and recently completed a two-year term as president of the Mathematical Association of America. His 1986 paper “The Bieberbach Conjecture” was awarded the 1987 Carl B. Allendoerfer Award for mathematical exposition, and he has co-authored several calculus textbooks with his colleague Arnold Ostebee. His most recent book is Understanding Real Analysis.

The Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professorship was also established in 2006. The former English professor taught Shakespeare and world literature, was one of the first St. Olaf recipients of a faculty Fulbright award, and for over a quarter of a century was a member and frequent chair of the faculty’s Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee. Professor Emeritus of Biology Henry Kermott was the first to hold this appointment.