CHASS College Awards Recipients

CHASS Teaching Award
Patricia McSweeny McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence

Augustine KposowaThe College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences presents the 2015-2016 CHASS Teaching Award to Professor of Sociology Augustine Kposowa.

Dr. Kposowa, whose research focuses on social epidemiology and health demography, teaches undergraduate and graduate quantitative methods courses and courses on population, immigration, and international migration. His Statistical Analysis course is required of all Sociology majors, and Quantitative Methods I is required of all first-year sociology graduate students.  The required quantitative methods course, which many students outside of Sociology also take as part of their social sciences curricula, are widely viewed as difficult and daunting. Usually students enter in a math-phobic or otherwise anxious state, as the student comments in the courses indicate. Professor Kposowa transforms this anxiety into understanding through his patience, clarity, and accessibility to students in and outside the classroom.

Students likewise laud Professor Kposowa for his ability to foster understanding and meaningful engagement within his upper division courses and graduate seminars. In his specialized courses, students praise his knowledge, commitment to teaching and student comprehension, and excellent mentoring. As a student wrote of one such class, “This literally has been one of the most influential courses in my graduate career.” His passion for teaching is obvious from the students’ reactions. Students praise the environment he creates in the classroom -- a level of receptivity and enthusiasm that is conducive to discussion. They also note his commitment to extending this engagement beyond the classroom and to the individual level.

Professor Kposowa’s mentoring carries over into collaborative research and writing with graduate students, often leading to their first publications and continuing into their established careers in Sociology. In a ten-year period, Professor Kposowa published 14 articles co-authored with current or past UCR Sociology doctoral students.  This kind of transformative teaching -- from anxious undergraduates facing statistical methods for the first time, to familiarizing graduate students with contemporary issues in methods and controversial processes, to professional mentoring developing over time to collegial collaboration -- is the hallmark of excellence.

CHASS Distinguished Research Lecturer Award

Conrad RudolphThe College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences presents the 2015-2016 CHASS Distinguished Research Lecturer Award to Professor of Art History, Conrad Rudolph.

Dr. Rudolph is an art historian whose research focuses on the art of Medieval Europe, with special attention to the role of visual expression in the articulation of intellectual and theological concepts, and their dissemination into the broader culture. As a medievalist, Rudolph’s work is lauded not only for its historical rigor, but also for its conceptual daring and theoretical sophistication. Rudolph is known to be a scholar who fearlessly asks the big questions. He also possesses the rare gift of being able to make complex and historically distant imagery clear and compelling to a twenty-first century audiences.

His record of publication and scholarly activity (six books; countless articles and chapters, fellowships, and academic presentations) demonstrates a remarkably high and consistent level of production. Especially noteworthy, however, is his string of recent achievements: publication of an award winning book, his 626-page The Mystic Ark: Hugh of Saint Victor, Art, and Thought in the Twelfth Century, election as a fellow of the elite Medieval Academy of American, and perhaps most strikingly, his National Endowment for the Humanities-funded FACES (Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems) project. This last project which mixes traditional humanistic scholarship with cutting edge digital facial recognition software to provide a new tool for identifying unknown sitters in artistic portraits. He is currently at work on a second and equally inventive project that uses spatial modeling technology to investigate the famous dome of the Florence Cathedral. Here, as in FACES, Rudolph enacts a rare and high-level integration of art history and the digital humanities.

Rudolph’s scholarship has had a profound effect on the study of medieval art and history at the highest levels. Yet, he has also committed himself to bringing this rigor and inventiveness to the classroom. Fueled by his passion and erudition as scholar, Rudolph is a demanding and inspiring teacher who has guided numerous UCR students into Medieval art.

CHASS Faculty Award for Civic Engagement

Clifford TrafzerThe College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences presents the 2015-2016 CHASS Faculty Civic Engagement Award to Professor of History Clifford Trafzer.

Dr. Trafzer’s record at UCR exemplifies that of a scholar working as a conduit for civic engagement and social change. His life’s work has been to enhance the presence of America’s Native American citizens in our consciousness and to empower the values and goals of their communities in public life. Throughout his career, Dr. Trafzer has displayed a steadfast and passionate commitment to serving Native American communities by employing scholarship and the resources of higher education to expand opportunities for Native students and scholars, and foster engagement between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples locally, regionally, and internationally.

Professor Trafzer tirelessly seeks and finds ways to connect UCR with Native American communities – from work with individual students to largescale collaborations of international significance. Among his achievements, he has played a central role in the developments of community events on campus, such as the annual Medicine Ways Conference and UCR Pow Wow. He has also spearheaded several educational outreach initiatives, such as a program that invites Native American middle school youth to live on the UCR campus during the summer. He serves as a board member of the Native American Land Conservancy and a powerful advocate for the protection and preservation of sacred lands. He is also a dedicated public historian and has worked hard to disseminate scholarly knowledge to the broader public through programming and exhibition work on reservations, in local museums, and at national venues such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. His most recent initiative focuses on community outreach related to Native health and healing practices. 

As a Tribal leader of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians put it, “Cliff has travelled the full circle along with us. He came to us a stranger, learned of who we are as a people, worked alongside us, and included us in part of his life.” Such commitment models what it means to serve the community as scholar and citizen.

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