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Professor J. Shoshanna Ehrlich received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching during the commencement ceremony. (Harry Brett/Boston)
May 28, 2018

Faculty honored during UMass Boston’s 50th commencement exercises


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Four faculty members presented with Chancellor's Awards during undergraduate commencement ceremony

Four outstanding UMass Boston faculty members were presented with Chancellor's Awards for Distinguished Scholarship, Teaching, and Service during the undergraduate commencement ceremony at the TD Garden on Friday.

Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies J. Shoshanna Ehrlich was this year's recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching. Ehrlich brings to the classroom many years of expertise as an attorney, feminist legal scholar, and educator committed to student-centered learning. Her introductory and intermediate courses are known for their innovative and engaging assignments, including student-initiated mini-seminars, book clubs, and group-designed posters. One student wrote, "She brings out passions, talents, interests and knowledge in students and people in general that they never knew they had or were possible of attaining." A colleague noted that Ehrlich "embodies for us all the very values of our institution—to make education relevant, useful and a platform for improving our lives and our worlds."

Professor of Economics Julie Nelson received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship. Nelson has been a pioneer and leader in feminist approaches that challenge older orthodoxies in the field of economics; and her critique has now also been applied to globalization, human development, climate change, and business ethics. As the review committee put it, Nelson's work "has truly been transformative, has impressively extended into other fields of inquiry, and has likely not only shaped but shifted her field."  She has published nine books, for three of which she is the single author, 61 journal articles, and 29 book chapters in economics. Her work has been cited over 6,000 times, with over 300 citations per year since 2009. A recent article from 2015, "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?" has already been cited 119 times.

The final awards given out on Friday marked a first. The Award for Distinguished Service was given to professors Ellen Douglas and Paul Kirshen — the first time a team was honored in the history of the Chancellor's Awards. These climate change researchers have received multiple awards, including the U.S. Federal Highway Administration Environmental Excellence Award and the Norman B. Leventhal Excellence in City-Building Award, and have participated in Climate Ready Boston, numerous environmental justice projects, local community boards, and agencies in the commonwealth. A former president of the Boston Harbor Association wrote, "More than any other individuals or entities, the team of Ellen Douglas and Paul Kirshen has helped to shape greater public awareness and action on climate preparedness through the terms of two different governors of two different political parties as well as two different mayors of Boston. Dr. Ellen Douglas and Dr. Paul Kirshen are incredible 'ambassadors' from UMass Boston to the community and represent the best of UMass Boston in every sense."