President's Medals presented to IU scholars David Dilcher and James Naremore

  • Oct. 26, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Eminent scholars in paleobotany and in cinema studies at Indiana University Bloomington were presented with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow.

David Dilcher, professor emeritus of biology and geology, and James Naremore, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus in communication and culture, English and comparative literature, received the President's Medal for Excellence.

IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel presented the medals on behalf of IU President Michael A. McRobbie to Dilcher and Naremore at the 10th annual Academic Excellence Dinner on Oct. 20.

The medal, which reproduces in silver the jewel of office worn by IU's president at ceremonies, is given to recognize exceptional distinction in public service, service to the university, achievement in a profession or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and industry.

“Professors Dilcher and Naremore epitomize the values that make IU Bloomington a great place: outstanding scholarship and teaching, and generosity and mentorship to colleagues,” Robel said. “I was honored to present them each with the President’s Medal on behalf of President McRobbie and the entire IU community.”

Perhaps the world’s best-known paleobotanist, Dilcher is known for his research of the evolution of angiosperms, one of the planet’s earliest flowers. He was one of the first to change a widely held notion in the 1950s and 1960s that flowers were not adequately preserved in the fossil record.

His discovery of well-preserved flowers from the Eocene Epoch in Tennessee, and from the Cretaceous Period in Kansas, Nebraska and China, led to the recognition that flowers can be treasure troves of information about the evolution and ecology of ancient angiosperms.

Dilcher joined the IU faculty in 1965 and initiated a class in evolutionary biology that was among his most popular and enduring teaching legacies. He led many students and colleagues on numerous collecting trips to Tennessee and Kentucky and throughout southern Indiana, creating a collection of about 100,000 plant fossils.

In 1990, Dilcher became graduate research professor in the Florida Museum of Natural History, at the University of Florida. He returned to IU in 2010, where he continues to do important research.

Last year, Dilcher and several European colleagues identified a 125 million- to 130 million-year-old freshwater plant as one of earliest flowering plants on Earth -- the proverbial “first flower." Earlier this year, he co-authored a study that identified a Jurassic-age insect whose behavior and appearance closely mimic a butterfly -- but whose emergence on Earth predates the butterfly by about 40 million years.

Dilcher earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Minnesota and a doctoral degree at Yale. He has been president of the Botanical Society of America and vice president of the International Organization of Paleobotany. He is a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the National Academy of Science and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Naremore's scholarly efforts and teaching activities focus on several of Hollywood's most accomplished and celebrated directors, including Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Kubrick.

Over a 36-year career at IU, Naremore has published extensively on literary and film topics, among them the novels of Virginia Woolf, film noir, film adaptations of literature and film acting. He taught courses on directors, film noir, performance in the cinema, postmodern Hollywood and the classic Hollywood studio system.

He helped found the IU Cultural Studies Program, for which he also taught graduate courses on modernism and mass culture.

In the mid-1970s, Naremore and colleagues founded the IU Film Studies Program, which offered an interdepartmental certificate program. He served as the program’s director for several years and was instrumental in instituting its first course in film production. Later, he played an important role in the establishment of IU Cinema, today one of the leading university cinemas in the nation.

His books include the award-winning "More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts" and "On Kubrick," published by the British Film Institute. His classic 1978 book, "The Magic World of Orson Welles," was republished in 2015 in an expanded Welles Centennial Edition. His various books and writings on film have been translated into eight languages.

Naremore edited and contributed an essay to "Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane: A Casebook," which explores one of the greatest films ever made. He has written extensively for film journals, including Film Quarterly, and he founded the Contemporary Film Directors book series for the University of Illinois Press. Last year, he published "An Invention Without a Future: Essays on Cinema," a collection of his critical and theoretical essays.

Naremore earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Louisiana State University and his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin. He is a former Guggenheim and National Gallery of Art fellow. He received the Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award and was named an Academy Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Both professors also have received IU's Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, which is given to faculty members who have achieved national and international acclaim both for their research and for their teaching.

James Naremore, left, and David Dilcher

James Naremore, left, and David Dilcher

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