Stanford has announced the winners of the 2020 university awards honoring faculty, students and staff for exceptional service, for distinctive contributions to undergraduate education and for excellence in teaching.

Prior to the announcement, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne personally congratulated each of the nine winners during phone or video calls.

The process of selecting the winners of the Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Awards, the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Awards and the Walter J. Gores Awards for the 2019-20 academic year was delayed by the pandemic.

The 2020 winners and the 2021 winners, who will be announced later this quarter, will be publicly recognized during this year’s Commencement celebration, a virtual event that will be streamed on the web Sunday, June 13, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

2020 Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award winners

The Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award for Contributions to Stanford University, which recognizes extraordinary contributions to the achievement of the university’s goals, is open to all members of the Stanford community. The 2020 winners are Sue Crutcher and William S. Talbot.

Sue Crutcher (Image credit: Connor Crutcher)

Sue Crutcher, associate dean for human resources and faculty affairs in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, was honored “for her work in creating the Day in the Life Career Conversations series as an avenue for staff to gain access to broader career opportunities across campus.”

She was commended “for her exceptional contributions to the university community, including her work with the Office of Community Standards.”

Crutcher was also honored “for her positive, approachable nature and her willingness to work beyond the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, often in partnership with other human resources units.”

William Talbot (Image credit: Paul Keitz)

William S. Talbot, a professor of developmental biology who served as senior associate dean for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs in the School of Medicine from September 2015 through August 2020, was honored “for connecting diverse and underrepresented postdoctoral candidates with Stanford faculty through the development of the Postdoctoral Recruitment Initiative in Sciences and Medicine.”

He was commended “for wholeheartedly supporting the graduate experience for biosciences PhD students by creating communities that center justice, equity, inclusion and belonging.”

Talbot was also honored “for taking the lead in evaluating past biosciences efforts and future commitments to racial justice, culminating in the Biosciences Commitment to Justice and Action,” and “for his extraordinarily inclusive model of leadership that leverages the skills of those around him, while empowering staff to promote ideas.”

Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education

The Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education recognizes distinctive and exceptional contributions to undergraduate education or the quality of student life at Stanford. The 2020 winners are Harry J. Elam, Jr., Liam McGregor and Emily Polk.

Harry J. Elam, Jr. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Harry J. Elam, Jr., was the senior vice provost for education, vice president for the arts, the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education until he left Stanford to become president of Occidental College in July 2020. He continues to be the Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities, Emeritus.

Elam was honored “for facilitating undergraduate research – a central and life-changing part of Stanford undergraduates’ lives – throughout the university as vice provost for undergraduate education.”

He was commended “for his tireless efforts in making service a distinctive feature of a Stanford education through Cardinal Service” and “for raising the profile of the arts at Stanford.”

Elam was also honored “for his groundbreaking teaching in drama, notably his devotion to directing actors and his sensitivity, elegance and wisdom.”

Liam McGregor (Image credit: Arjun Sheth)

Liam McGregor, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2020, was honored “for co-founding, alongside Stanford graduate Sophia Sterling-Angus, The Marriage Pact, a social algorithm bringing together thousands of Stanford undergraduates every year.”

He was commended “for his contagious enthusiasm for many projects, and his caring and supportive entrepreneurship” and “for his tireless work on improving The Marriage Pact, often taking in student feedback and collaborating with others.”

McGregor was also honored “for co-creating a social tradition that expands Stanford’s residential education experience in an exciting way through reports and data about campus culture not easily found elsewhere.”

Emily Polk (Image credit: Jacob Wenger)

Emily Polk, an advanced lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, was honored “for her unparalleled dedication and commitment to teaching and community building.”

She was commended “for demonstrating that students can create a world that is more just, sustainable and empathetic through their education” and “for fostering collaboration and joint inquiry in the classroom and helping students navigate complex social-environmental topics.”

Polk was also honored “for her inclusive teaching pedagogy that enables students to engage in a respectful, relevant and critical multi-directional learning process.”

Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Walter J. Gores Award recognizes undergraduate and graduate teaching excellence. This year’s winners are Samer Al-Saber, Aditya Grover, Allyson Hobbs and Paul Nauert.

Samer Al Saber (Image credit: Courtesy Samer Al Saber)

Samer Al-Saber, an assistant professor of theater and performance studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences, was honored “for making the classroom experience memorable and inclusive by combining care and empathy for students with curiosity.”

He was commended “for his creative and innovative pedagogy, which forces students to challenge their own beliefs and broaden their horizons” and “for going above and beyond the call of duty through his availability to students and his creative virtual teaching.”

Al-Saber was also honored “for being a positive, compassionate and engaging role model for the ideal theater academic.”

Aditya Grover (Image credit: Courtesy Aditya Grover)

Aditya Grover, who earned a master’s degree and a PhD in computer science in Stanford’s School of Engineering in 2020, was honored “for his immense contributions to the creation of “CS 236: Deep Generative Models,” including syllabus and course material design, and teaching alongside Professor Stefano Ermon.”

He was commended “for going above and beyond by discussing relevant, big-picture topics, advising and pursuing research with interested students.

Grover was also honored “for offering high-quality CS 236 course materials worldwide as a valuable resource for instructors, students and artificial intelligence researchers” and “for his expert ability to explain diverse concepts, to create engaging and stimulating lectures and to provide insightful answers to student questions.”

Allyson Hobbs (Image credit: Jessica Tampas)

Allyson Hobbs, an associate professor of history in the School of Humanities and Sciences, was honored “for her tireless efforts to facilitate student engagement with the world through her wide range of life-changing courses on race and gender in contemporary American history.”

She was commended “for consistently making time for her students, who often left their meetings with a boost of confidence and a sense of direction.”

Hobbs was also honored “for promoting thoughtfulness, professional generosity and deep intellectual community building through her leadership and teaching” and “for being a wonderful mentor, a campus leader and an inspiring historian.”

Paul Nauert (Image credit: William Stallings)

Paul Nauert, a PhD candidate in history in the School of Humanities and Sciences who earned a master’s degree in history at Stanford in 2018, was honored “for bringing history alive through field trips, guest speakers and a blend of information technology, ethics and quantitative, big-data methods and a range of historic archives.”

He was commended “for his innovation in deploying a range of techniques to engage many learning styles beyond text and photos, including virtual reality exhibits and landscape and environmental data” and “for generously sharing his models and approaches with other graduate students and faculty.”

Nauert was also honored “for his sensitivity in communicating with students, ensuring students felt heard and respected.”

Nominations remain open for 2021 University Awards

Nominations are still open for the 2021 Cuthbertson, Dinkelspiel and Gores Awards. Visit the Registrar’s website here for the complete criteria for the awards and to see a list of previous winners.

If you know persons deserving such recognition, especially students eligible for the Dinkelspiel Awards, please visit the nominations page on the Registrar’s website here.

Nominations will be accepted until Friday, April 2. Even one letter on behalf of a candidate can make a difference. For questions regarding the nomination process, contact Shunit Harpaz: