Clancy Rowley wins President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

By Emily Aronson, Office of University Communications

Clancy Rowley received a President's Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton's Commencement ceremonies on Tuesday, May 28.

One of four faculty members to receive the award this year, Rowley is the Sin-I Cheng Professor in Engineering Science and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Clancy Rowley, President Eisgruber, and the two other winners of the President's Teaching Award
Clancy Rowley (far right) with Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber (second from left) and other winners of the President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching. Photo by Matthew Raspanti

The awards were established in 1990 through a gift by Princeton alumni Lloyd Cotsen of the Class of 1950 and John Sherrerd of the Class of 1952 to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching by Princeton faculty members. 

Rowley has taught at Princeton since 2001. His research interests lie at the intersection of dynamical systems, control theory and fluid mechanics.

Rowley has taught his department’s core undergraduate course in control theory almost every semester since 2001. Students cite both the course and its textbook, which he wrote, as highlights of their Princeton academic experience.

“Professor Rowley’s class in controls is one of the best classes that I have had during my time at Princeton,” one student said. “He made use of many great examples and applications of control theory to keep the class from being too heavy in theory and also to show us why control theory is important to understand.”

Colleagues and students describe Rowley as a gifted lecturer who makes complicated topics not only accessible but also inspiring to students from across departments. 

“Professor Rowley’s lectures consistently achieved an unparalleled balance of clarity and mathematical rigor, making even the most technical and abstract concepts accessible for his students,” a graduate student said. “His course notes rival traditional textbooks in quality and are a testament to his commitment to accessible and high-quality education.”

Students also called Rowley a compassionate and kind teacher—a professor who is concerned about students’ well-being both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Faculty in mechanical and aerospace engineering said their own teaching has improved because of Rowley. Said one colleague: “His ability to teach his colleagues how to be better teachers is in my view yet another dimension to this exceptional educator.”