Cramer receives Taylor Award of Distinguished Service

By Eileen Harvala

In nearly every aspect of his life, Professor Christopher Cramer exemplifies the definition of service, whether that's to his students, or to his department, University, or science community. In recognition of his service to others, he has been awarded the 2013 George W. Taylor Award of Distinguished Service by the College of Science and Engineering. This award recognizes outstanding service to the University of Minnesota and voluntary public service. 

"Over the course of 20 years as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Chris has compiled a remarkable record of service contributions that goes well beyond what is typical for most faculty members," said Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry. 

That service has included key leadership roles with the Department of Chemistry, College of Science & Engineering, and University of Minnesota as well as national and international science organizations.

For the Department of Chemistry, Cramer served three years each as Director of Graduate Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies. During that time, he developed and implemented a comprehensive strategy for graduate student recruitment, which has increased faculty participation and positive responses from prospective students. He also chaired the department's Faculty Search Committee for two years at a time of expansion for the department, resulting in the hiring of two new faculty members.

At the college level, Cramer served on two of the college's most important committees—Promotion and Tenure, and Blue Ribbon Strategic Planning.

At the University level, Cramer served for three years on the Senate Research Committee, is in his seventh year on the Senate Subcommittee on Research Openness, and has been a member of a number of task forces and working groups addressing important university-wide issues. In 2009, he was elected to the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC), which is the executive body for the Faculty Senate, served as its vice chair and chair, and is serving now as its past chair. 

"Chris has been one of the most effective faculty leaders in many years due to his insistence on the need to improve upon the effectiveness, reputation, and quality of the university as a whole in all of its multiple missions," wrote Gary Engstrand, FCC secretary. 

Cramer is currently serving as faculty liaison for the University's e-Learning initiatives. He is one of five University professors developing and delivering a free online course through the University's partnership with Coursera.

His service to the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute also has been extensive. "In my 18 years as director of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, I frequently turned to Cramer for help," said Regents Professor Donald Truhlar. "He served the Supercomputing Institute as a peer reviewer, and member on the advisory committee, planning committee, steering committee, nominating committee, and initiative committee. He was always a great asset to this intercollegiate center, and somebody that one could count on for meaningful service."

Cramer has committed a number of years of service to the science community, currently serving as editor-in-chief of Theoretical Chemistry Accounts, as North American associate editor for the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry, and on the advisory boards of other publications. His national and international service has included leadership positions on executive boards of scientific societies, organizing symposiums, and serving as a panelist or workshop presenter.

Cramer also serves as a mentor to students. " . . . It is through the hard work and commitment of public engaged scholars like Chris that young people who would not otherwise excel academically find their passions, hone their skills, and work to shape the future of their disciplines and the academy," wrote Professor Marti Hope Gonzales, 2009-10 Senate & FCC chair.

Cramer also is one of the University's top professors and researchers. He is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, a University Teaching Professor, and the Elmore H. Northey Professor of Chemistry. Recently, he became the director of the Center for the Study of Charge Transfer and Charge Transport in Photoactivated Systems.

The George W. Taylor Award was established in 1982. In addition to Cramer, other chemistry professors who have received this award include Paul Barbara, Paul Gassman, Louis Pignolet, and Donald Truhlar.