The Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 12, 1998
Oct. 12, 1998
VOL. 28, NO. 7


Dean Herbert Kessler's Remarks in Honor of Larry Principe, "Maryland Professor of the Year"

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

In his magisterial book, The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest, Larry Principe startles his readers by demonstrating that the would-be "father of modern chemistry" had actually developed his ideas within the boundaries of seventeenth-century alchemy and within a personal search for God. Prof. Principe dispels the cliche, that with Isaac Newton Boyle had ushered in the scientific revolution, by reconstructing one of Boyle's unpublished tracts and subjecting his most famous treatise, The Skeptical Chemist, to both scientific and contextual readings.

This is no surprise. For in his person, Prof. Principe himself confounds dichotomies and exposes the vacuity of other cliches. He is both a chemist and a historian of science, both a gifted researcher and a brilliant teacher.

It is therefore particularly appropriate that Larry Principe has been honored with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching "Maryland Teacher of the Year" award during the very year his book on Boyle was issued by the Princeton University Press. The simultaneity of these achievements is a perfect demonstration of what we at Hopkins have long known, but too often dismiss, namely, that there is no inherent contradiction between brilliant scholarship and creative teaching. Quite the contrary. To teach well and to publish with distinction require the same conviction about the production of knowledge and the same willingness to make known one's insights and research. The one feeds the other. This basic consonance between the two activities and the fact that Larry has achieved this recognition for the dual aspects of his work is thus no coincidence.

What IS a coincidence is that this award comes at the beginning of my deanship and so inspirits one of my principal goals: to make the faculty of the Krieger School as proud of its excellence in teaching as it already is of its premier research accomplishments. And so it is for ME a particular pleasure and honor to salute Larry Principe on this extraordinary and very well deserved recognition.