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Brad Maurer ’07 has used his smarts and physical skills to great effect on the football field, acting decisively in leading the Leopards as a double-threat, passing and running signal caller. Last Saturday before a sellout crowd and nationwide television audience, he capped the regular season with an MVP performance as his team dominated Lehigh to win a share of the Patriot League title and a berth in the 16-team NCAA Division I-AA football championship.

Every day, in a less visible way, Maurer matches his athletic attainments in the classroom. He has approached his academic challenges with leadership, decisiveness, and success during his first year and half on campus as he embarks on one of the hottest and most challenging college majors today, neuroscience.

Who says so? Well, the faculty say so.

Maurer is a Lafayette Marquis Scholar. Selected for academic excellence and intellectual curiosity from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Marquis Scholars receive the College’s highest academic scholarship – a minimum award of $12,500 per year ($50,000 over four years) or a grant in the full amount of their need if the need exceeds $12,500. They also receive the program fee for a faculty led, three-week, study-abroad course during interim session and opportunities for cultural activities in major cities and on campus.

Trustee Scholarship recipients receive a minimum of $7,500 per year ($30,000) over four years or grant-to-need awards if need exceeds $7,500. The amounts of both the Marquis and Trustee Scholarships will be increased beginning with the class entering Lafayette next fall. Marquis Scholars in the Class of 2009 and beyond will receive a minimum award of $16,000 per year and Trustee Scholarship recipients will receive a minimum of $8,000 per year.

One of about 50 recipients of Lafayette academic scholarships on the College’s varsity athletics rosters, Maurer was valedictorian of his graduating class and a National Merit Scholar finalist at Kings High School, Kings Mills, Ohio, near his hometown of Loveland in the Cincinnati area. Ohio’s Division II offensive player of the year, he received the “That’s My Boy” award from the National Football Foundation as the state’s top scholar-athlete in football.

At Lafayette he has taken a rich mix of courses in his three semesters so far, including two each in biology and psychology (the main disciplines of neuroscience) along with organic chemistry and calculus. But he’s also taken courses in Latin, Spanish, and philosophy. And even a course called “Politics of Russia, the Other Post-Soviet States, and Eastern Europe.” Now that’s intellectual curiosity.

An interdisciplinary field, neuroscience explores the development, structure, and behavioral consequences of the nervous system. Why do nerve cells die when you develop Alzheimer’s disease? Does your brain change after you become dependent on heroin? Are there really “left brain” and “right brain” people? Do epileptics have a nervous system that is wired differently? Are certain brain chemicals lacking if you are depressed? These are some of the questions neuroscience seeks to answer.

“Neuroscience is one of the most challenging and demanding majors on campus, and Brad definitely has the intellectual equipment for it,” says Wayne Leibel, associate professor of biology, who taught two of Maurer’s first-year classes. “I was glad to give him the two A’s he earned.

“Brad distinguished himself by being a leader in discussion in my First-Year Seminar on human behavior. He was clearly captivated by the subject material. He also did quite well in the general biology course,” Leibel says.

Julie Yoo, assistant professor of philosophy, says, “He’s a very active participant in class and a really sweet guy, too – very approachable.” Maurer is taking Yoo’s course Philosophy of Mind, an elective that counts toward the neuroscience major. “He has very philosophically astute things to say, and he’s just a sophomore. I’m very impressed with that.”

Leibel says, “The thing about Brad is that he’s unassuming. He really didn’t talk at all about the sports end of his life. When he was in the classroom he was all about the classroom, and he was very good at it.”

Sidney Donnell, associate professor of Spanish, echoes Leibel: “He’s brilliant, very likable, and very modest.” To complement his studies in neuroscience, Maurer may minor or add a second major in Spanish, and he’s taking his second course with Donnell.

Donnell learned last spring that Maurer was a member of the football team when Maurer signed up to take his upper-level course in Spanish civilization and culture.

“But,” Donnell says, “I didn’t know until this weekend that he was the star quarterback!”

Leibel continues, “I remember commenting in the spring about how he seemed to be bulking up, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been working out,’ but never mentioned he was on the football team. So this fall, I was watching a game on TV and was just blown away to see him leading the team. For that matter he also never drew attention to being a Marquis Scholar, never acted like he thought he was important.”

“In class he’s very participatory, but sensitive to other students,” Donnell adds. “He’s on top of things, but he doesn’t grandstand at all. He has an ear for the language and a talent for literary and cultural studies. He’s gifted and bright, and I wish we could have more Brads in the classroom.”

So says Yoo, too. “He’s one of the stronger students I’ve encountered, and I think he’ll be successful in anything he chooses. I only wish he were majoring in philosophy. Maybe I can talk him into it.”

“Brad seems happy and well-adjusted,” Donnell says. “I think he’ll be fine with all the accolades he’s suddenly receiving because he’s well-grounded. In Spanish there’s a slang verb, torear, meaning to ‘do the bullfight move,’ to handle everything that comes at you gracefully, and look good doing it. That’s Brad.”

With a 3.59 GPA, Maurer was named earlier this month to the all-academic team for district II by CoSIDA, the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Another Marquis Scholar on the football team is co-captain Stephen Bono, a civil engineering major with a 3.80 GPA and a four-year starter at right guard who’s been named to the academic all-district squad three straight years. He is a two-time selection to the I-AA Athletic Directors Academic All-Star Team and two-time winner of the Lafayette Maroon Club Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.

Their names will be placed on the ballot for Academic All-America consideration. Lafayette has had 20 academic all-district selections during head coach Frank Tavani’s five years at the helm.

Categorized in: Academic News