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University Professors named ahead of Founders Day

Tim Hunt and Fred Smith

Tim Hunt, left, and Fred Smith.

Tim Hunt, professor in the Department of English, above left, and Fred Smith, chair of the Department of Sociology/Anthropology, have been named University Professors.

The title honors faculty who are nationally recognized scholars and teachers. The title will be officially given to them at the Founders Day Convocation at 2 p.m. Thursday, February 21.

Hunt had a national reputation as a scholar of 20th century American literature before he joined Illinois State in 2003. He received his Ph.D. in American literature from Cornell University and is an accomplished poet with four books published. His 2009 Fault Lines was a finalist for five major poetry awards.

“The depth and breadth of his critical and creative works are impressively daunting,” said James Skibo, chair of the English Department. “Only occasionally does a body of work come from a scholar in literary studies that affects the entire way the field thinks, and Dr. Hunt’s works have been hailed as texts that are changing disciplinary thought and practice.”

Fred Smith joined the Illinois State faculty in 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He has distinguished himself in his field of paleoanthropology. The professor is internationally recognized for his work with Neandertals and the broader issue of modern human origins. He created the assimilation model, which recognizes Africa as the region of origin for modern humans. Although his work has been primarily based on fossil evidence, recent sequencing of the Neandertal genome has supported his model, which resulted in a discussion of his work in such high visibility outlets as The New York Times. Smith’s work has appeared in three of the world’s leading science journals.