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SPP Community Celebrates Year of Service

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Celebration of Service 2019

School of Public Policy community members gathered on April 6 in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center to honor faculty, staff, students and alumni at the second annual Celebration of Service.

Career Services Coordinator Theo Caruthers was the MC for the evening. “It’s time to turn to the important reason we are here tonight--to recognize the great people that make up the School of Public Policy community,” he said to the audience.

SPP Dean Robert Orr set the tone for the celebration, saying, “Tonight is about celebrating service--to our School, to our community, our state, our country, our world … It does take a village to educate, develop new knowledge and impact the world. And you all do it with style!”

The Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognized a graduate teaching assistant who provided exceptional instructional experiences to students, was given to Zhongsheng Wu for his contributions to the study abroad courses offered at the School.

Norman and Florence Brody Professor Betty Duke and Professor Douglas Besharov were both awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award for their contributions to the School’s teaching mission, and for inspiring and preparing students for their lives beyond the School.

MPP Student Xan Avendanño presented the Impact Awards to recognize students who are having an impact outside of the classroom. Anjali Sharma was given the Beyond the Classroom Award to celebrate her service to the community and her commitment to making change at the local level. Sharma has worked as a volunteer mentor in Kids Excelling in Math and Science, an after-school enrichment program at Hyattsville Middle School.

The Community Builder Award was created to honor students that made significant contributions to creating a more diverse, inclusive and vibrant community at the School of Public Policy. This year’s recipients were Sam Shrimer, president of the Policy Student Government Association (PSGA); and Jacqueline Ford, vice-president of PSGA and president/founder of Kappa Omega Alpha, the public policy professional fraternity at UMD.

SPP Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations Bryan Kempton presented the staff awards for the evening. “Whether they are helping students throughout their time here, and indeed well beyond, or supporting faculty in their teaching and research, the work our staff does is fundamental to our success as a School,” he said.

Program Management Specialist Kati Zang was awarded the Unsung Hero Award in honor of her extraordinary efforts to serve the School. Jennifer Littlefield, director of undergraduate studies, was given the Champion of Student Success award for her work to provide exceptional assistance, guidance and inspiration to students.

After dinner, Senior Associate Dean Philip Joyce came to the stage to present this year’s research awards. Jing Liang was awarded the Innovative Research Award for her research on energy economics. Associate Professor Toby Egan was given the Research Excellence Award to honor his impressive amount of research and his approach to research partnership.

The Public Impact Award was designed to recognize a faculty member who, through their research, expertise and service, has played a meaningful role in promoting the public good. This year the Public Impact Award was given to Peter Reuter. Reuter has conducted decades of research on drug policy and enforcement, making him an internationally-recognized leader in the space.

In addition to the staff, faculty and student awards, the School also gave the Distinguished Terrapin Award to a member of the community who has brought credit to the School through their personal accomplishments or professional achievements. This year’s recipient was Ross Stern, who currently serves as executive director for government relations at the University of Maryland.

The final awards for the night were the Lifetime Service Award and the Dean’s Award, both presented by Dean Orr.

“The first award recognizes someone whose dedication and commitment to our School can be measured not just in years, but decades,” Orr said. “Throughout their time as a member of our community, this person has established a record of excellence, and indeed of lifetime service to the School and the Public.”

Saul Stern Professor of Civic Engagement I.M. “Mac” Destler was presented this year’s Lifetime Service Award in recognition of his years at the School. “Mac has not just served the School as a dedicated leader of the institution in all manner of roles, but as a passionate teacher and mentor, and intellectual powerhouse of the field.”

To close out the celebration, Dean Orr presented the Dean’s Award to Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Nina Harris. 

“When I talk to our students, regardless of whether they have taken one course with us, or are in our undergraduate or graduate programs, you never get far into the conversation without Nina’s name coming up,” Orr said. “What is clearly evident from these conversations is that Nina is a passionate and committed educator, not just demonstrating the highest degrees of excellence in the classroom, but as an advisor and mentor as well.”

You can view photos from the event on the SPP Flickr account.

For Media Inquiries:
Megan Campbell
Senior Director of Strategic Communications
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