Serving with distinction

3 faculty members named Carolina Distinguished Professors



Provost Joan Gabel has named Claudia Benitez-Nelson and Hans-Conrad zur Loye from the College of Arts and Sciences, and Gloria Boutte from the College of Education, as this year’s recipients of the Carolina Distinguished Professorship.

“The faculty at the University of South Carolina exemplify excellence daily and these three shining stars are leaders among our world-class faculty,” Gabel says. “We and thrilled to recognize these faculty members as our newest Carolina Distinguished Professors and are forever grateful for their outstanding contributions to our university.”

The Carolina Distinguished Professorship is one of the highest honors awarded by the university to any faculty member. To be considered for the professorship, the faculty member must demonstrate excellence in scholarship with a commitment to students, have a proven interest in th e growth and success of their colleagues and an overall participation in university affairs.

Hans-Conrad zur Loye

Hans-Conrad zur Loye began teaching at the university 22 years ago, arriving as a tenured associate professor in chemistry in 1996. He was a 2017 Breakthrough Leadership in Research award recipient for his work to develop high-temperature crystal growth technique.

“I am extremely pleased and excited to receive this honor,” he says. “I have several friends and colleagues who are, or were prior to retirement, Carolina Distinguished Professors, and I always hoped that I could also join this elite group. I feel that it’s a very meaningful acknowledgement of my success as a USC faculty member.”

Zur Loye says the best part of teaching is seeing growth in his students and their ability not only to understand the subject matter but to apply what they learn and to clearly demonstrate their mastery of the material in a fairly short amount of time.

He gives credit to his graduate students for performing research that gets noticed and says the professorship is partly a reflection on them and will therefore benefit them as they start their own independent careers.

Claudia Benitez-Nelson

In 2002, Claudia Benitez-Nelson joined the College of Arts and Sciences faculty as an assistant professor in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in marine science. In addition to teaching, she studies the oceanic ebb and flow of trace nutrients, such as phosphorus, and contaminants, such as mercury.

Benitez-Nelson says she is honored to receive the professorship designation among such a talented pool of professors at the university.

“This award makes me realize how much I am appreciated and how my interactions with students are truly valued at the University of South Carolina,” she says. “This benefits all students at USC because it demonstrates how supportive the upper administration is in faculty who both conduct research and teach.”

Benitez-Nelson says she loves interacting with students and learning their perspectives on a topic. Students’ views often make her consider the importance of what she teaches and how it relates to the real world and have even helped her reevaluate fundamental assumptions she made in her research.

Gloria Boutte

Gloria Boutte joined the university faculty in 1991 as assistant professor in early childhood education. In 2002, she founded the Center of Excellence for the Education and Equity of African American Studies. Boutte is a 2013 Breakthrough Leadership in Research Award winner. She served as a Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria, taught at the University of Uyo and was a visiting scholar at the University of Melbourne in Australia and the University of West Indies in Jamaica.

“I was incredibly delighted," Boutte says of learning she had recieved the professorship. "It is an honor to have my scholarship and teaching appreciated and honored.”

Boutte says successful teachers focus on cultural competency and teach critical consciousness, making sure students see themselves in the content they’re studying and are taught how to question, analyze and think critically.

“One of the most important aspects of my career is facilitating the development of a cadre of doctoral students whose work centers on equity pedagogies. Many are now faculty members at universities and are continuing this lineage with their students.”

A lasting impact

As one of the highest awarded university to any faculty member, the professorship recognizes educators who are among the most outstanding scholars in their fields nationally and internationally. Each of this year’s recipients have established themselves as educators with a lasting influence on the university.

“The impacts of Dr. Boutte, Dr. Benitez-Nelson and Professor zur Loye in their respective fields of research, innovative teaching and comprehensive mentoring are internationally renowned and are deserving of the university’s highest faculty honor,” Gabel says.

Benitez-Nelson and zur Loye join 14 other faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences who have received a Carolina Distinguished professorship. Boutte is the first from the College of Education.


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