Five SBS Faculty Receive 2023 University Awards of Distinction
Five SBS professors have received prestigious Awards of Distinction from the University of Arizona in 2023 in recognition of excellence in teaching, research, leadership, and mentoring: Meg Lota Brown (University Distinguished Professor Award); Diane Austin (Distinguished Head/Director's Award); Andrew Curley (Early Career Scholar Award); Susan Holland (Gerald J. Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence); and Kevin Gosner (Mentoring Future Scholars Award).
University Distinguished Professor Award
The University of Arizona Distinguished Scholar Award honors faculty who have made sustained contributions of consistent educational excellence and have demonstrated outstanding commitment to undergraduate education.
Meg Lota Brown
Professor, Department of English
Meg Lota Brown is a professor in the Department of English, with a focus on early modern English literature and culture. She is also the associate vice provost for Academic Affairs, associate dean of the Graduate College, and director of the UArizona Graduate Center.
Brown is the co-PI for a number of grants in support of undergraduate and graduate education. She is the author or editor of four books and has published numerous articles on Reformation politics; Renaissance literature, science, art, theology, and education; pedagogy and diversity; and authors from Shakespeare and Donne to Christine de Pizan and Rachel Speght. Brown has received nearly every major UArizona teaching award, as well as awards for her research, service, and leadership.
“Your colleagues submitted a compelling nomination detailing your evidence-based contributions to undergraduate and graduate education that have been noted to be innovative, creative, and exceptional for the 35 years since your appointment as an Assistant Professor in 1988,” wrote Provost Liesl Folks in the award letter. “You have prioritized graduate students' success by creating a holistic system of support that includes writing support, grant writing, financial literacy, job interview workshops, research support, and life-work balance.”
Distinguished Head/Director’s Award
This award recognized outstanding performance by an academic department head or director.
Director, School of Anthropology
Diane Austin, a Distinguished Outreach Professor, has served as the director of the School of Anthropology since 2013. Under Austin’s leadership, the School has consistently ranked in the top tier of anthropology programs nationwide.
Both in her own practice as a faculty member and in her leadership of the School, Austin is deeply involved in community service and outreach. She has developed and maintained community-based partnerships with Native American communities, U.S. and Mexican border communities, and communities along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
In their letter of nomination, the anthropology faculty laud Austin’s vision, empathy, problem-solving skills, and collaborative spirit.
"During her tenure, Austin has been an outstanding Director of the School, a gifted administrator, and a tireless advocate for the diverse constituents of a large and complex academic unit, including staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty," the letter stated. "She leads with integrity, compassion, and fairness. She articulates strategies for the future clearly and works to create a supportive environment for all within the School."
Early Career Scholar Award
The Early Career Scholars Award recognizes early-career faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines and make highly valued contributions to teaching, creative activity, and service.
Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment
Andrew Curley, an assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment, examines how extractive industries – oil, gas, and mineral resources, for example – intersect with Indigenous communities, and how these intersections impact, and are impacted by, resources that have not only economic but significant cultural importance.
"This work is not only thought-provoking – it's paradigm-shifting," wrote SBS Dean Lori Poloni-Staudinger in her letter of support.
Curley’s book, Carbon Sovereignty: Coal, Development, and Energy Transition in the Navajo Nation was recently published by the University of Arizona Press. Curley has eight articles in top geography journals. In 2022, he was co-PI on an award from the Sloan Foundation ($451,707) to study Tribal decision-making in Native Nations around energy transitions.
"Dr. Curley is not only a ground-breaking researcher, he’s also a skilled educator,” Poloni-Staudinger wrote. “His work transcends the lab and the classroom and yields collaborative and impactful solutions to problems that span Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and wealth production and transfer. His work is exemplary, and his trajectory truly exciting.”
Gerald J. Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence
This award recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching. It was created through a gift from the Thomas R. Brown Foundation in honor of Gerald J. Swanson, professor emeritus of economics.
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Communication
“A Professor of Practice in the Department of Communication, Susan Holland is by each and every indicator available, a highly accomplished and revered instructor who is making a genuine and positive impact on the educational journeys of her students," said SBS Dean Lori Poloni-Staudinger in the nominating letter.
For four years in a row (2019-2022), Holland has received the student-initiated Faculty Recognition from the Office of Student Success and Retention Innovation. She provides students with opportunities to work on relevant projects and issues and to build their skills on cause-related work, crises situations, and beyond.
In his letter of recommendation, Communication Department Head Chris Segrin described Holland’s classes as “an absolutely masterful blend of professional industry experience with the pedagogical acumen that could only come from decades of experience in a college classroom.”
One student wrote, “Professor Holland is a phenomenal teacher who cares deeply about her students and preparing them for the future. Her pedagogy uplifts and inspires her students to be passionate about learning.”
Mentoring Future Scholars Award
The Mentoring Future Scholars Award recognizes mentors who are extraordinary in their mentoring of graduate students to become future scholars.
Associate Professor, Department of History
“An extraordinary mentor and teacher, Kevin Gosner has been and continues to be a cornerstone of our highly ranked Latin American History Graduate program,” wrote Katherine Morrissey, head of the Department of History. “His commitment to the success of graduate students is legendary.”
Throughout his career, Gosner has been immersed in the research of his students and in their shared fields of colonial Latin American, Indigenous peoples, and comparative world history.
"His intellectual commitments and heartfelt values – including collegial collaboration, interdisciplinary openness, championship of inclusion and diversity, service to the greater good, ethical professionalism – reverberate through the lives and careers of his students," wrote Morrissey.
"His mentoring is genuinely extraordinary for its range and depth and, quite meaningfully, is without limits or conditions,” wrote three of Gosner’s students. “Kevin was there to support our endeavors and provide us with thoughtful feedback and support. In fact, he remains available to listen, encourage, and nudge us forward. We are immensely proud to call ourselves Kevin’s students, and we gratefully acknowledge his mentoring in our career trajectories.”