Martha Finnemore Named University Professor

November 20, 2011

Dr. Finnemore is only the second woman to receive the appointment at George Washington.

Martha Finnemore, professor of political science and international affairs, is George Washington’s newest university professor, joining an elite group of the university’s most distinguished faculty members.

A university professorship is GW’s highest rank faculty rank and recognizes outstanding scholarship. Faculty appointments at this level must be approved by the Board of Trustees. Dr. Finnemore is the second woman to receive the appointment, which was effective Oct. 14.

“The university professors are a distinguished group, and it’s exciting to be in such company,” said Dr. Finnemore.

There are only nine other university professors at George Washington, including Ferid Murad, university professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and Vanessa Northington Gamble, university professor of medical humanities.

“To be successful in attracting and retaining top talent among our faculty, it is critical that we recognize outstanding scholars on our faculty,” said George Washington Provost Steven Lerman. “Acknowledging Dr. Finnemore’s extraordinary accomplishments by appointing her university professor is merited in its own right and sends a clear message that we appreciate the achievements of our own colleagues.”

A faculty member in George Washington’s Department of Political Science and Elliott School of International Affairs, Dr. Finnemore teaches undergraduate and graduate students about world politics and international institutions. Her research focuses on global governance, international organizations, ethics and social theory. She is the author of several prize-winning books.

Dr. Finnemore received GW’s Trachtenberg Prize for Scholarship in 2006 and in April was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences—one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and a leading center for independent policy research—along with President Steven Knapp.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, a Master of Arts from the University of Sydney and a doctorate from Stanford University.

One of Dr. Finnemore’s new responsibilities as a university professor will be to teach in the University Honors Program, which she called a “plum assignment.” University Honors courses are typically limited to 15 to 20 students.

“Teaching a small number of smart undergraduates is a very exciting opportunity,” Dr. Finnemore said.

She also noted that her new appointment will allow her more time for the research that she loves. “I think this is a vote of confidence from the university that they’d like me to keep doing that work,” she said.

Dr. Finnemore, who came to GW in 1992, said she enjoys working at the university because of her “engaged” students and her “top-notch” colleagues at the Department of Political Science and the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Calling George Washington a “special university,” she said its location and passionate student body make the university stand out.

“Often, students are doing the things that we’re actually studying in class, and that connection between the city, politics and their academic life in my classroom is remarkably productive,” said Dr. Finnemore. “It makes the learning experience a two-way street; they learn but I learn too, because they bring all the knowledge they’ve gained from being out and around in town in my classes. That would not be true in any other city in the country.”