The Core of the University

March 29, 2012

Faculty members honored for teaching, service and scholarship at annual award ceremony.

Three faculty members were awarded Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prizes Monday. The winners included Professor of Political Science Christopher Deering for service to the university, Associate Professor of Anthropology Chester Sherwood for scholarship and Associate Professor of Classics and Anthropology Eric Cline for teaching.

These prestigious awards, among the highest given at George Washington, are endowed by former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in honor of his parents. The award ceremony was held in Jack Morton Auditorium.

“This is a time of incredible dynamic change, but within the context of those changes, there’s one thing that remains constant,” Provost Steven Lerman told the audience. “And that is the importance of great teaching to our students’ education.”

Four faculty members were also awarded Morton A. Bender Teaching Awards: Thanassis Samaras, an adjunct professor of philosophy, received a Bender Award in the part-time category; Amita Vyas, an assistant professor of prevention and community health, won in the full-time non-tenured category; and Gaetano Lotrecchiano, an assistant professor of clinical research and leadership and of pediatrics, and Michael O’Donnell, a teaching instructor in American Sign Language, both won in the open category.

Mr. O’Donnell and the other Bender Award winners provided their thoughts about teaching in prepared video remarks. “The classroom should be the most unique place on earth,” he said. “And no one should ever question that. The fact that I’m able to be there working with the students who are going to be the leaders of the future, giving them that opportunity, is amazing.”

Students Corey Jones, a senior political science major, and Heather Dingwall, a senior biological anthropology major, each spoke about the important roles that particular faculty members played in their college success and in shaping their future plans. Mr. Jones will attend Harvard Law School and hopes to also apply for research-based graduate scholarships like the Rhodes and Marshall, and Ms. Dingwall will enter a Ph.D. program next fall.

Scheherazade Rehman, professor of international business and international affairs and a winner of a 2011 Trachtenberg Prize for teaching, presented the Trachtenberg Prizes. Dr. Deering, the service prize winner, has offered service at nearly every level of the university for more than 30 years, Dr. Rehman said. Dr. Sherwood’s research on the brain structure of mammals “attracts national attention,” she said, and his interdisciplinary and well-funded studies bring significant scholarly interest to the university. Dr. Rehman called Dr. Cline “beloved by students,” and cited his “tremendous energy and excitement” in expanding the size of the archaeology majors. Dr. Cline was also a 2011 Trachtenberg Prize winner for scholarship.

In video remarks prepared for the ceremony, Dr. Cline explained his teaching philosophy. “The way I see every student is, I’m teaching as if they are my child,” he said. “How would I want my child to be educated? And as an adviser, how would I want someone to be advising my son or my daughter? I put myself in those shoes.”

George Washington President Steven Knapp remarked that faculty members truly are the core of the university.

“Our main product that we deliver to the world is the students we send out into the world every May,” he said. “Without the strength, dedication, creativity and imagination of our faculty, we would not be producing leaders of the caliber that you heard from earlier in our program. I thank you for your dedicated service.”

At the ceremony, faculty members were also honored for other prestigious awards won throughout the past year, and award winners for graduate teaching and writing in the disciplines were also recognized. Faculty reaching 25 years of service and those achieving emeriti status were highlighted as well. A complete list of award winners can be found online.

Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize

GW Faculty Honors: Morton A. Bender Award



Philip Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Assistant Award