Though some college students might be disappointed to find themselves stuck on campus when everyone leaves for Thanksgiving break, for film studies and comparative literature professor Dudley Andrew, that lonely vacation ended up being a life-altering experience — one that set him on the path to earning a membership in the American Academy of Arts of Sciences.
As an undergraduate, Andrew’s participation in an Orson Welles film festival during Thanksgiving break turned him on to a way of looking at film that landed him a spot in the Academy this year, along with seven other Yale professors.
“I … began to look at foreign films and began to treat films the way I treated the novel and poetry and drama that I was reading in my literature classes,” he said. “That’s kind of the study that I did as an undergraduate, and I kept going.”
Eight Yale professors were inducted into the Academy at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., last Saturday. Along with Andrew, Donald W.K. Andrews, Ian Ayres, Judith Chevalier, Peter Novick, John E. Roemer, Gordon M. Shepherd and Nicholas Wolterstorff were recognized for leadership and innovation in their fields of study.
“This is an honorary society,” Yale Assistant Director of Public Affairs Gila Reinstein said. “To be a member of AAAS is considered a lifetime honor of accomplishment.”
Shepherd, a neuroscience professor, contributed to the study of neurobiology through his research on nerve signaling. In 1978, Shepherd described the way nerve cells communicate as “microcircuits,” a term which is now widely used in his field.
Andrew said he sees himself as playing a role in an ongoing transition in film studies. His field helped “enliven” the study of humanities and expand it to include modern media, such as film, he said.
Some professors and administrators said the number of Yale professors inducted into the Academy this year demonstrates the strength of the University’s faculty.
“It’s a wonderful endorsement of the national outstanding caliber of the University,” Reinstein said.
Shepherd said the Academy is important because it represents a group of leading intellectuals across the country, who are responsible for further progress in academics. He also said Academy members should help and guide future generations of scholars.
“It represents the best in America across all of these different areas of human endeavors,” Shepherd said.
But Novick, a professor of cell biology, said not all deserving candidates were included in this year’s Academy class.
“I’m sure there were people who deserved [induction] who didn’t get in,” he said.
Others in this year’s induction class included former presidents Bill Clinton LAW ’73 and George H.W. Bush ’48 and a number of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize laureates. A total of 195 inductees were identified as leaders in academia, business and civic society. They represent 24 states, 13 countries and several fields of study including the arts, sciences and public affairs. All were nominated by the members of the Academy.