Professor of Theatre Jane Alexander
For Jane Alexander, life may imitate art moreso than for most actors. As a doyenne of the American stage and cinema, in the 1990s, Alexander parlayed her distinguished acting career into politics, serving as head of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1993 to 1997.
This spring, she's spinning off a new mini-career, perhaps, coming to Florida State as an Eppes Professor in theater. She's accompanied by her husband Edwin Sherin, an acclaimed director and TV producer as well as a veteran teacher. Sherin, once dean of Boston University's School of Theatre Arts, will join his wife on the theater faculty. Both will serve for the full spring semester, Alexander said.
Alexander, who has starred in or produced more than 45 films, is a four-time Oscar nominee for the films Testament, Kramer vs. Kramer, All the President's Men, and The Great White Hope. On Broadway and off, the Boston native has a 30-year history, and also has a repertoire of regional theater that spans the country.
But her time on the nation's political stage as NEA chair may have been her most challenging starring role.
"I went in there hoping to build the NEA, because I think the arts are so important in our society," she said. "And within my first year, I was facing Newt Gingrich and the 104th Congress who wanted to eliminate the entire agency."
The agency survived, but with a 45 percent cut in funding. Alexander returned to acting, but in 2001 turned her Washington experience into a highly readable book, Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics (DaCapo Press, 2001).
Why FSU and teaching at this juncture?
"We've been approached by a number of different schools to teach, but we chose FSU because we liked the size of the school, the fact that a lot of bachelor's students take theater and...the fact that they wanted us to continue to be active in our careers.
"My husband is an inspirational teacher, and I hope to grow to be one." -F.S.
Jane Alexander made her Broadway debut in 1963, and since then has appeared in nearly two dozen Broadway and Off Broadway productions and in dozens of TV and film roles. Her honors include a Tony Award for her work in The Great White Hope (1969); five Obie Awards; four Academy Award nominations; one Emmy Award and five Emmy nominations for her work in television. Alexander holds honorary doctorates from 11 colleges and universities in the U.S. She joins FSU's School of Theatre as an Eppes Professor this spring.
Professor of Mathematics Max Gunzberger
Max Gunzberger likes challenges. The opportunity to help Florida State become a leader in applied computer science and mathematics lured him to campus last year. Gunzberger stepped down as chair of Iowa State University's math department to become an Eppes professor and researcher in Tallahassee. He works with both the mathematics department and the School of Computational Science and Information Technology (CSIT).
"Max is a world-class mathematician, an international figure in research and (he's) really good in developing students," said DeWitt Sumners, math department chair.
Using math to solve real-world problems is what excites Gunzberger. His specialty is devising algorithms to understand problems in fluid mechanics, acoustics and superconductivity. Among other things, his research may eventually lead to improved fuel efficiency for aircraft.
"We take meaningful phenomena and use computers in a really big way to solve problems," said Gunzburger. "An algorithm is a recipe. What we do is develop software to see if our recipe is better than existing recipes that computers use."
Since joining the faculty in August, Gunzburger has focused on developing a group of computational mathematicians of the first rank. Among his goals is to start a graduate degree program at CSIT.
"I plan on helping CSIT become the best computational science entity in the country," said Gunzburger. "Here, you have the resources to get something done. FSU will be the premier university in this field in the Southeast." -J.C.
Max Gunzburger is a Francis Eppes Professor in the math department and a researcher in the School of Computational Science and Information Technology. In addition to Iowa State University, Gunzburger taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Tennessee and New York University. He received his doctorate in 1969 from New York University.