Denison Geologist, Ken Bork, Wins Second Major National Award
Posted: November 14, 2000
Denison University Professor of Geology and Geography Kennard B. Bork is being recognized as the 2000 Neil Miner Award winner on Monday (Nov. 13) at the national meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Reno, Nev. The award is given to a college-level professor for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Established in 1952, the award commemorates Neil A. Miner's concern for personal excellence and effective teaching.
Bork, who holds Denison's Alumni Chair and has taught at the University since 1966, was awarded the GSA's prestigious History of Geology Award in 1997 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the history of geology. Bork was the first liberal arts college professor to win that award and is only the second person to win both of these major awards - joining author and Harvard University Professor Stephen Jay Gould.
"I consider myself first and foremost a teacher concerned with students and communicating about geology" says Bork. "I consider the Neil Miner Award 2000 as my most prized honor and dedicate it to my students - past, present and future." He was nominated for the award by retired Denison colleague Richard Mahard, emeritus professor of geology. Denison alumna Constance Soja '77, Colgate University professor of paleontology, will present the citation to Bork.
In January 1999, Bork assumed a two-year term as president of the History of Earth Sciences Society, a professional group that includes members from 25 countries and publishes the "Earth Sciences History" journal. Last year he also participated in a National Science Foundation Chautauqua short course on "New Approaches to Dinosaur Biology and Bird Origins."
A favorite on the Denison alumni club lecture circuit, Bork has shared his insights about "Terrible Lizards: Some True Facts and Amazing Hypotheses About Dinosaurs" and "When Terra Is Not So Firma: A Few Geo-Comments on Earthquakes" (for a San Francisco club meeting!) with audiences on and off-campus.
Director of Denison's first January Term, Bork has served as chair of the geology and geography department three times. He was named as holder of the all-college Alumni Chair in 1990 and won the Teaching Excellence Award in 1993. In 1994 his book about Kirtley F. Mather (1888-1978), "Cracking Rocks and Defending Democracy," was published. Since 1984, Bork has served as one of 10 Americans on the International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences.
Bork is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi (scientific honorary), Omega Delta Kappa (national leadership honorary) and Sigma Gamma Epsilon (geology honorary). Bork also holds memberships in the Comite Francais d'Histoire de la Geologie (France) and the Palaeontological Association in Great Britain.
Bork's teaching has focused on physical geology, historical geology, paleontology, and sedimentology and stratigraphy. His research interests have been eclectic, ranging from field-based stratigraphy to Paris-based esoteric historical topics. Early in his career at Denison he involved students in research to reconstruct the Mississippian paleoenvironments of central Ohio. Recently, Bork has worked with another student doing research on the Silurian communities of the Waldron Shale in Indiana. It was during a sabbatical in 1973 that Bork began pursuing research on the history of geology. Work at the Harvard University Archives in 1983 and '84 led to his book on Mather.
A native of Kalamazoo, Mich., Bork earned his bachelor's degree at DePauw University. During a semester abroad studying in Aix-en-Provence, France, Bork says he made two momentous decisions. First, he decided to become a professor of geology at a liberal arts college; second, he and his future wife, Kay Odell Bork, decided to become life companions. After earning a master's degree in geology and his doctorate in paleontology at Indiana University, Bork joined the Denison faculty in 1966. He has also taught at the College of William and Mary (summer, 1971) and at Chapman College (January Term, 1982).
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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