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UMass President Honors Faculty Public Service


BOSTON-University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson today announced the six recipients of the 2008 President's Public Service Awards. The awards are presented annually to faculty members from the University's Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester campuses who have been nominated by the Chancellors of their respective campuses for providing exemplary service to the Commonwealth. This year's honorees, professors Jerri Willett, Taylor Stoehr, Susan Krumholz, Regina Panasuk, Deborah Harmon Hines and Jean King, join 59 other faculty members in receiving the recognition since the awards were established in 1997.

"Though the scholarly pursuits of these six professors vary greatly, they have one thing in common: they are committed to exemplary public service, both in their professions and in their communities," said UMass President Jack M. Wilson. "Their accomplishments shed light on the significant contributions of all of the faculty members at the University of Massachusetts who undertake public service, part of the mission of a public research university."

President Wilson added, "Through these awards, the University adds its own acknowledgement of their contributions to the honors that they receive from national and international organizations."

UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning said, "This year's award winners and their campus colleagues are poignant examples of what the University of Massachusetts is all about-academic excellence and service. These awards illustrate the importance of attracting and retaining top faculty members, even in tough economic times. The University of Massachusetts is unwavering in its commitment to providing students with a world-class education; without the outstanding work and dedication of our faculty members, this commitment would not be possible."

The six recipients were honored today at a luncheon at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston.

The 2008 President's Public Service Awards winners are:

  • Jerri Willett, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, UMass Amherst: Professor Willett is being recognized for outstanding leadership in establishing the Access through Critical Content and English Language Acquisition (ACCELA) Alliance program, a state and federally-funded collaboration with Springfield, Holyoke and Amherst school districts to improve the education of second language learners. The program provides professional development for teachers, as well as school district administrators, UMass faculty, and future teacher educators. Professor Willett spends countless hours in the local schools, working with teachers in Holyoke and Springfield. In the last seven years that ACCELA has been in operation, almost 5,000 teachers and students have been positively affected by this program.

  • Taylor Stoehr, Ph.D., Professor of Literature, College of Liberal Arts, UMass Boston: He has worked diligently to offer the "Changing Lives Through Literature" program at the Dorchester District Court in which probationers read and discuss literature, focusing on issues familiar to many of the participants like including poverty, racism, family breakdown, and the struggle for social justice. Feedback from the probationers indicates that the program helps them to establish trust with each other as well as with the teachers, judges and probation officers, gives them time and space to reflect on ideas and issues, and causes them to understand that they are not alone in their struggles. About 250 to 300 men have completed the Dorchester program over the last 14 years.

  • Susan Krumholz, Ph.D., Director of Crime and Justice Studies, College of Liberal Arts, UMass Dartmouth: Offering a powerful example of how creative and courageous public service can enhance teaching and learning, she brought the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, to the University. The program takes UMass Dartmouth students behind the walls of the Bristol County House of Corrections to take college courses with prisoners. About 30 students go through the program each year: 15 "inside" students and 15 "outside" students. Students participating in the program receive a unique educational experience, and the inmates are exposed to the value of learning and critical thinking that helps empower them to lead productive lives when they return to the community.

  • Regina Panasuk, Ph.D., Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Graduate School of Education, UMass Lowell: Professor Panasuk is being recognized for her exceptional dedication to improving mathematics education. For 15 years, she has given of her time and talent to the Lowell Public Schools helping to guide curriculum development, conduct teacher professional development, and create diagnostic tests and research instruments for the schools. Recently, she secured a $255,000 grant from the state Department of Higher Education which will support a three-year collaborative effort between UMass Lowell and the Bartlett School, a Lowell K-8 school identified as underperforming.

  • Deborah Harmon Hines, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology, UMass Medical School: Professor Harmon Hines has been a driving force in developing a diverse biomedical research and health care workforce reflecting the Commonwealth's population. For more than 25 years, Professor Hines has worked to ensure that children from Worcester's under-represented communities gain the science and math literacy necessary to thrive as members of the workforce, particularly in health science and science careers. Professor Hines has led the charge to develop and manage several programs that have reached over 15,000 local students every year since 1989. Dr. Hines has also been recognized by the National Conference for Community and Justice for her exemplary contributions to the greater Worcester area.    

  • Jean King, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Neuroscience, UMass Medical School: Professor King is a passionate and invaluable advocate for adolescent girls and a mentor to women of all ages. For the past 16 years, Professor King has been instrumentally involved in the work of Daybreak Resources for Women and Children of Worcester, a non-profit organization that provides shelters and services for victims of domestic violence. Since its beginning, Daybreak has reached about 10,000 women through its shelter, hotline, and other programs. Thanks to her outstanding skills in community outreach and event organization, Professor King has encouraged greater community awareness of and involvement in the prevention of domestic violence.

Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073

Libby DeVecchi, 617-287-7023


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