The following citation was presented at Franklin & Marshall College’s Commencement Ceremony on May 12, 2012:
“The Faculty Handbook” states that the College can flourish only in an atmosphere that not only tolerates but also encourages searching inquiry, unfettered thought, open discussion and free expression of ideas. As teachers, the faculty must engage students in such a community. For almost 30 years, Professor Gregory S. Adkins, as an exemplary scholar and master teacher, has modeled this ideal. He is one of a handful of F&M faculty to win both the Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship and the Lindback award for teaching.
Professor Adkins came to the College in 1983 after receiving a B.A. degree summa cum laude in physics and math from UCLA, where he stayed to complete his Ph.D. He has published more than 50 articles on aspects of quantum field theory, positronium, and gravitation; one of them is on a prestigious list of the all-time highest-cited articles in energy physics. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1998. Since 2007, he has held the William G. and Elizabeth R. Simeral Professorship at F&M.
Student course evaluations are key measures of effective teaching at F&M, and students place Professor Adkins “off the chart.” They describe him in superlatives. A student in his first-semester “Introductory Physics” last semester said: “He really is the most enthusiastic, kind and intelligent professor I’ve come across, and he really cares how his students do.” Another student in “Modern Physics” wrote, “Professor Adkins loves every aspect of being a professor. . . he is very friendly and approachable. He is a great teacher. His passion for the subject radiates during his classes.” Finally, a directed study student said: “[He] loves to help students solve a mystery. He will not try to solve it, but he will guide you.”
Professor Adkins’ reputation lives outside F&M. A National Science Foundation review panelist wrote: “. . . Adkins has consistently included undergraduates in his research, doing, as he describes, parallel calculations. It is hard to imagine a better way for a student to develop analytical and problem-solving skills as well as rigorous thinking in general.” In fact, 20 of Greg’s published works, all in top journals, contain the names of 19 different students as co-authors. A colleague in the American Physical Society states, “Greg’s research is first-rate. Particularly important is that Greg’s attitude toward physics is exactly what I think the APS should be encouraging, i.e., while putting enormous effort into advancing theoretical physics, he is also a dedicated teacher and faculty member.”
In Professor Adkins’ own words, “I am always aware of how fortunate I am to have a job here, and I remember that when working with students. Almost all of my students are interested, eager to use their minds and willing to work, and that makes them a pleasure to teach.” Professor Adkins’ love of teaching F&M students extends from the beginning to the end of their careers. He stated how excited he was to return to teaching introductory physics after a long hiatus, and how, at the same time, he looked forward to teaching some “extra courses,” electives in topics like string theory for our most advanced students.
Because of his dedication to his students and his ability to engage them in his passion for understanding the natural world, we extend to Gregory S. Adkins the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching.