Celebrating ‘The Best of the Best’ in Teaching and Scholarship

Fifth annual honors ceremony showcases standout faculty.

Faculty Honors
Provost Steve Lerman (far left) and President Steven Knapp (far right) presented Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prizes to Joseph Cordes, Nathan Brown, and Alexander Dent. (Photo: William Atkins)
April 13, 2015

George Washington University held its fifth annual faculty honors ceremony Wednesday evening, celebrating excellence in teaching, writing and research. University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman welcomed the awardees, who will become members of the GW Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

"It is through you, our faculty, that we make history," said George Washington President Steven Knapp, who also acknowledged faculty members who have received "distinguished external awards, fellowships and honors this year."

Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prizes were presented to three tenured faculty members:

·      Joseph Cordes, associate director of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, professor of economics, public policy and public administration and international affairs, and longtime member and chair of the Faculty Senate Fiscal Planning and Budgeting Committee, for university service;

·      Nathan Brown, professor of political science and international affairs, for scholarship; and

·      Alexander Dent, associate professor of anthropology and international affairs, for excellence in teaching.

The Trachtenberg Prizes, which are endowed by President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg as a tribute to his parents, are the university’s top faculty award. Mr. Trachtenberg was in the audience Wednesday.

“The award is exciting for me because it means I’ve been connecting,” Dr. Dent says. “It means I’ve been reaching students, and they’re getting something out of the time we spend together.”

The Morton A. Bender Teaching Awards, which include a $1,000 prize for professional development, were presented to Irene Foster, assistant professor of economics; Adrienne Hancock, assistant professor of speech and hearing science; Edward Helfers, part-time faculty, University Writing Program; and Juliet Lee, assistant professor of surgery.

“I think a teacher is only as good as her students make her,” Dr. Hancock said. “So this award recognizes my work, but also my students’ work and what they’ve taught me about teaching.”

Three graduate students were presented with Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards: Meraj Allahrakha in the Department of Economics, Craig Allen in the Department of American Studies, and Leigha McReynolds in the Department of English.

Writing in the Disciplines prizes, awarded to faculty who teach WID courses, went to Kathryn Kleppinger, assistant professor of French and Francophone studies; Oya Altinkilic, assistant professor of finance; and Dorothy Smith Ohl, a graduate student in the Department of Political Science.

Twenty-nine faculty members were recognized for having completed 25 years of continuous full-time service to GW. Twenty-five others were inducted into the Society of the Emeriti.

Dr. Lerman said the awards were particularly meaningful to him as he reached his 40th year as a faculty member: “The title I’ve always been proudest of is that of professor,” he said.

“Ultimately, our ability to change students’ lives depends on our status as faculty,” he said. “This is an opportunity to thank the best of the best … and to give us all something to strive for.”