Wetzel Named Treves Professor

by Jim Amidon

October 8, 2010

Dean of the College Gary Phillips announced at Tuesday’s meeting of the Wabash faculty that Eric Wetzel has been named the Treves Professor of Biology, a five-year endowed professorship that provides funding for Wetzel’s ongoing work in parasitology.


Since his arrival to the College in 1996, Dr. Wetzel has taught a range of courses in the Biology Department, including General Biology, Invertebrate Biology, Parasitology, Ecology, Senior Seminar, and independent student research, as well as Freshman Tutorial and Cultures & Traditions, all-College courses to which he is firmly committed. He is currently the chair of the Biology Department.


Dr. Wetzel earned his undergraduate degree from Millersville University, and he received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Wake Forest University. His recent research and course development work have centered on developing a program to address global health concerns in Peru in a classically liberal arts manner.


“This is a fitting honor for a professor who takes seriously the College's mission of educating the whole man,” said Wabash President Patrick White. “Like most fine teachers, Professor Wetzel is also a great learner. He has come away from his sabbatical research in Peru with a new passion for global health issues. As he involves students in his research and work there, he will help them change their lives as he has transformed his by the experience. His innovative work in modeling a new global health initiative will provide our students with international learning opportunities, just as it prepares them to become leaders in solving some of the world's most vexing problems."


“I recognize that this chair honors past work, but I also know that it’s about trajectory, too,” Dr. Wetzel said. “In that way, it’s encouraging, motivating, and humbling. It is also liberating in the sense that the Treves Fund helps to provide some inertia for the global health issues project in Peru.”


The Treves Fund was established in 1964 by Wabash President Byron K. Trippet and honors the memory of Dr. Norman Treves, a 1915 Wabash graduate. Dr. Treves, who provided the funds necessary to establish the professorship, was a nationally recognized authority on breast cancer, trustee of the College, and an ardent supporter of faculty research and scholarship.


“Professor Wetzel exemplifies what Byron Trippet set as the standard of the Treves chair holder from Willis Johnson’s day forward: an inspiring and engaged undergraduate teacher; a leader of the biological sciences; and a steadfastly engaged researcher,” said Dean Phillips. “I have every confidence that in all of these respects Eric will excel.”


Dr. Wetzel has worked with more than two dozen student interns and published or co-published 14 journal articles, five of those with undergraduate students, and delivered 39 invited professional presentations, talks, and mini-seminars, 11 of those with student collaborators.


“The Treves Professor shares a responsibility along with other faculty leaders for attracting and retaining men and women of ability to the faculty,” added Dean Phillips. “One way the Treves Professor does so is by upholding the standards of inspired teaching, leadership in the biological sciences, and steadfast engagement in basic research that President Trippet trumpeted and Dr. Treves richly supported.”


Only five members of the biology department have held the Treves Professorship. In addition to Willis Johnson, who was the first Treves Professor, Tom Cole, Austin Brooks, and David Krohne have held the appointment.


“It’s strange to think that I’m only the fifth person to hold this chair,” Wetzel added. “I feel a sense of responsibility to do right by the position, and I hope I am able to leverage the Treves Chair to move the global health issues project in the right direction.”


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