Central Michigan University neuroscience professor Gary Dunbar's passion for teaching and mentoring has transformed the lives of hundreds of students throughout his 33-year career at CMU, all while guiding CMU's neuroscience program to national prominence.
On this foundation, Dunbar has earned recognition as a 2015 Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year, sponsored by the
Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
Dunbar, a CMU alumnus, is a nationally recognized leader in neuroscience education. He developed and has nurtured CMU's undergraduate neuroscience program, leading it to be named the country's top program in 2013.
has attained national recognitionion for his program of student-centered research and actively garners experiential learning opportunities for his students. Working alongside him,
Dunbar's students have conducted hands-on research, primarily using stem cells, that has resulted in significant findings related to the stroke, as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's.
"Dunbar's passion for developing strong, independent thinkers is evidenced in the way he structures his classes and his research laboratory and also in the leaders who have emerged from his mentorship," CMU Provost Michael Gealt said. " All of the students who have the opportunity to work with Dunbar comment on his commitment, the amount of time he devotes to them and his accessibility."
To Dunbar, this award is very special.
"This award recognizes what attracted me to this profession, which is to help provide a nurturing learning environment for undergraduates," Dunbar said.
One example of Dunbar's life-changing influence is the story of CMU alumnus Charles Weaver. As an undergraduate student at CMU, Weaver was struggling as a student and as an athlete on CMU's baseball team. Dunbar encouraged Weaver to keep working in his lab. That encouragement, along with the experience in the lab, helped Weaver to not only graduate but also go on and get his doctorate in neuroscience. He currently teaches at Saginaw Valley State University. Hear more about Weaver's story in the video below.
"I was fortunate to have many role models and outstanding mentors throughout my life," Dunbar said. "However, it is during the undergraduate years when many students, including me, have the greatest need for the care, empathy and guidance that will help them set the courses of their lives."
The Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award program recognizes the outstanding contributions made by faculty from Michigan's public universities to the education of undergraduate students. Each of Michigan's 15 public universities were invited by the Presidents Council to nominate a faculty member who has had a significant impact on student learning through various media, including teaching excellence and student advising.
Dunbar is one of three in the state to receive the award. A ceremony will be held April 10 to recognize the awardees at the Lansing Convention Center.