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Four faculty members honored with 2020 Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence

May 21, 2020   /   by Preston Williams

Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

George Mason University Interim President Anne Holton has announced the recipients of the 2020 Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence, honoring the contributions of four Mason professors to the university, Mason students, and the greater community.

The medals are awarded for excellence in research and scholarship, teaching, social impact, and diversity and inclusion. The medals are formally presented at the university’s Spring Commencement ceremony. With that event postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions, the medals will be presented at a future on-campus event.

Presidential Awards committee review team, which solicits nominations each year, is made up of faculty representatives, including prior award winners, and senior leaders. See past winners here. Each 2020 honoree is awarded $10,000 in discretionary funds to support their professional work.

The 2020 Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence recipients are:

The Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship: Edward Maibach, University Professor in Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). The Beck Medal honors a faculty member for groundbreaking achievements. Maibach, founding director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C), is an international authority on the public understanding of climate change. His research addresses the communication and behavior change challenges associated with climate change, such as where and how citizens learn about the issue, and has impacted public policy discussions nationally and globally.

The John Toups Medal for Excellence in Teaching: Jeff Offutt, a computer science professor in the Volgenau School of Engineering. The Toups Medal honors a faculty member whose teaching exemplifies Mason’s commitment to transformative learning. Offutt, an instructor at Mason for 27 years, is a university Teaching Excellence Award winner and currently serves as director of the master’s program in software engineering. He has co-authored the leading worldwide textbook on software testing, and in 2015 Google awarded his team a three-year, $900,000 grant to redesign how introductory computer programming classes are taught.

The Earle C. Williams Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact: Jenice View, associate professor of transformative teaching in the College of Education and Human Development. The Williams Medal honors a faculty member whose commitment to community service improves the quality of life in our region or around the world. Her collaboratively written book, “Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching,” emphasized the voices and perspectives of grassroots community organizers and unsung heroes and heroines. This book, which has had a nationwide impact on teachers, teacher educators, and P-12 students, was designated an “enduring classic” by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance.

The United Bank Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Cynthia Fuchs, director of Film and Video Studies at Mason in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and an associate professor of English in CHSS. The United Bank Medal honors a faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion. Fuchs, creator and curator of the Visiting Filmmakers Series at Mason for the past 25 years, ensured that the mission of this program create “opportunities for students, community members, and filmmakers to meet and discuss diverse and necessary films and themes.” She is also a faculty member in African and African American Studies, Sport and American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies.