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University Relations

Volume 51, Issue 3

November 21, 2008

CU Board of Regents confers distinguished professor title on four

The University of Colorado Board of Regents Thursday honored four CU faculty members with the distinguished professor title to recognize their outstanding contributions to their respective academic disciplines.

The board honored Thomas A. Pyszczynski from UCCS and Spero Manson, Robert Murphy and Paul Teske from the University of Colorado Denver.

“These elite faculty exemplify the best of what CU faculty do,” said Steve Bosley, chair of the CU Board of Regents. “Their accomplishments in scholarship, teaching and service have helped CU earn distinction as one of the top universities in the country.”

CU extends the distinguished professor title to faculty members who demonstrate accomplishments in exemplary teaching and distinguished scholarship or creative work. The title signifies a select group of faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields as attested to by national or international recognition and/or their significant public service achievements. Including the four newly honored faculty members, there are 53 professors within the CU system who hold the title of distinguished professor.

With the board’s action, Pyszczynski becomes only the second faculty member at UCCS to earn the title distinguished professor. In 1982, Daniel Cougar, professor, Business, and a founding faculty member of the campus, was the first to receive the title. Cougar died in 1997.

Pyszczynski, a professor of psychology at UCCS for more than 20 years researches terror management theory, which is concerned with the role of self-esteem and cultural belief systems in providing protection against core human fears such as death. The theory also helps understand the causes of support for terrorist violence. Pyszczynski’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation since 1989 and he is ranked one of the most productive researchers worldwide in social psychology, garnering about $90,000 a year in grants.

“It is an honor to be recognized and to have the university appreciate the work that we’ve been doing,” Pyszczynski said recently. “But this award also speaks to the great students at UCCS, particularly the graduate students.”

Pyszczynski joined UCCS in 1986 and was promoted to professor in 1994. He credited the late Lee Becker, professor, Psychology, for “taking a chance” in hiring the recent PhD. graduate with controversial ideas. Those controversial ideas are now a dominant approach for understanding a variety of issues ranging from human self esteem, faith, ethnic violence and war.

“I knew when I came here I wanted to stay a long time. It simply is a great atmosphere,” Pyszczynski said. “UCCS provided me what I needed to succeed – good students.”
For more about Pyszczynski, a 2002 feature about him is available at

Others honored Thursday include

Manson, a professor of psychiatry at the UC Denver School of Medicine and head of the campus’s American Indian and Alaska Native program. Manson has been honored with a Herbert W. Nickens Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Institutes of Health. A member of the Pembina Chippewa American Indian tribe, Manson specializes in the assessment, treatment and prevention of physical, alcohol, drug and mental disorders across the developmental life span of American Indians.

Murphy has worked for the university for nearly 40 years. A professor of pharmacology, Murphy studies biochemistry and pharmacological control of lipid mediators, which work with hormones to maintain the body’s homeostasis. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Lipid Research and Analytical Biochemistry and received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Eicosanoid Research Society, the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from UC Denver and the Dean’s Mentoring Award from the UC Denver School of Medicine.

Teske is the dean of the School of Public Affairs at UC Denver. A member of the CU faculty for five years, Teske received the 2005 Distinguished Research Award from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration/American Society for Public Administration as well as the 2005 Excellence in Research and Creative Activities award from UC Denver. Teske’s public policy research centers on education policy, regulatory policy, urban policy and economic development policy.

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak invites you to a
wine and cheese reception in honor of

Professor Thomas Pyszczynski being named a Distinguished Professor

Tuesday, December 9, 2008
3:30-5:00 p.m.
UC 303

Please RSVP by return email ( by Friday, December 5.

Communique is the on-line newsletter for UCCS faculty and staff. It is published weekly during the fall and spring semesters, monthly during the summer semester. Communique is sent to faculty and staff e-mail lists and, by request, to other e-mail addresses. Previous issues are available in the Communique Archives at, and the current issue is always at Suggestions and comments are welcome. Send ideas to or call Tom Hutton, 262-3439.

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