University Celebrates Exceptional Faculty

Annual ceremony rewards standout work in teaching, research, service, mentorship and other academic fields.

April 25, 2019

(From left) GW President Thomas LeBlanc; Trachtenberg Faculty Prize winners Hugh Gusterson, Heather Berry and Anthony Yezer; and

(From left) GW President Thomas LeBlanc; Trachtenberg Faculty Prize winners Hugh Gusterson, Heather Berry and Anthony Yezer and Provost Forrest Maltzman. (William Atkins/GW Today)

By Ruth Steinhardt

The George Washington University held its ninth annual Faculty Honors Ceremony Tuesday at the Jack Morton Auditorium, celebrating faculty members for their work in teaching, research and service to the university.

“Events such as this ceremony are an important opportunity to mark the accomplishments of our faculty, whose teaching, scholarship and research are critical to GW’s aspiration for preeminence as a comprehensive global research university,” George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc said. “We would not be able to aspire to anything without the people in this room.”

Dr. LeBlanc presented awards at the ceremony alongside Provost Forrest Maltzman, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Law Christopher Bracey, Associate Professor of Law Katherine Weisburd, Vice President for Research Robert Miller and GW senior Agnes Charlotte Broden.

 Besides distributing GW’s own awards for teaching, research and writing in the disciplines, the ceremony also acknowledged faculty who have served for 25 years, new emeriti faculty and faculty members who have received external awards.

Awardees ranged from graduate teaching assistants to full professors across a host of disciplines and all GW campuses. Some were nominated by their students, others by their peers and supervisors. (A program from the event, including the full list of honorees, is here.)

“I’ve seen many inspirational and passionate masters students who go into the field to improve people’s health in developing countries,” said Chulwoo Park, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health and one of three winners of the Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards for Outstanding Teaching. “I’m always motivated by their passionate enthusiasm, and actually it reminds me of my original intention of working for public health, which was serving people around the globe in a humble manner.”

Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prizes, the top faculty awards granted by GW, went to Anthony Yezer, professor of economics and director of GW’s Center for Economic Research, for university service; Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs, for scholarship; and Heather Berry, professor of international business and international affairs, for teaching excellence.

“The feedback that I’ve gotten from students and colleagues for the things that I’ve done has been wonderfully rewarding, and the Trachtenberg Prize on top of that is icing on the cake,” said Dr. Yezer, who started his career at GW in 1972. Since then he has served on numerous committees at departmental, school and university levels. Much of his work, he said, has focused on job placement and career development for economics majors, building strong alumni networks and mentorship programs as well as relationships with accounting and consulting firms and with the government.

Before beginning his 47-year academic career, however, Dr. Yezer wanted to be a humor writer—“Either directly, for myself, or to be a writer for a comic like Don Rickles.”

“I couldn’t be the chief economist for Goldman Sachs and combine humor and economics, because we might get sued,” Dr. Yezer said. “But as an academic economist, I can have as much fun as I want.”

Other awards presented

Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards for Outstanding Teaching

Graduate teaching assistants who have been teaching for two or more years and who have received outstanding evaluations from their students and supervising professors are eligible for this honor. Besides Chulwoo Park, this year’s winners were Eve Boyle of the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology and Amanda Pierson of the Department of Sociology.

Morton A. Bender Teaching Awards

These $1,000 prizes can be used for faculty development activities. This year’s recipients were Terrie Gale, professional lecturer in sociology; Carly Jordan, assistant professor of biological sciences; Saniya LeBlanc, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Laurie Posey, associate professor of nursing; and Tara Scully, assistant professor of biological sciences.

“I feel vindicated,” Dr. Scully said. “I get a lot of harassment from my family and friends about the amount of time I spend at work, and I’m very grateful that it’s paid off.”

 Writing in the Disciplines (WID) Distinguished Teaching Awards

The University Writing Program presents these awards to select faculty members who teach WID courses. Murray Snyder, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and international affairs won the WID Distinguished Teaching Award; Jocelyne Brant, assistant professor of French, won the WID Best Assignment Design Award; and Joshua Benson, a graduate student in the Department of English, won the WID Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Office of the Vice President for Research Awards

The OVPR Awards recognize excellence in research and scholarship. Stuart Licht, professor of chemistry, received the Distinguished Researcher Award; Charles Glaser, professor of political science and international affairs, received the Distinguished Scholar Award; Megan Leftwich, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received the Early Career Researcher Award; Christopher Warshaw, assistant professor of political science, received the Early Career Scholar Award; and Cynthia McClintock, professor of political science and international affairs, received the newly-created Research Mentorship Award.