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College of Arts and Sciences to Honor Popp, Spiotta for Graduate Teaching
Professors David Popp and Dana Spiotta have been chosen for recognition by the College of Arts and Sciences for their exceptional work with graduate students.
Popp, professor of public administration and international affairs (PAIA) and Carolyn Rapking Faculty Scholar in Public Administration and Policy in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will receive the 2018 William Wasserstrom Prize for the Teaching of Graduate Students.
The Wasserstrom Prize is named for the great English professor at the University who died in 1985. Since then, the prize is awarded every year to a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences who embodies Wasserstrom’s gift as a graduate seminar leader, research and dissertation director, and advisor and role model.
Popp’s research focuses on the links between environmental policies, technological innovation and environmental outcomes. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s most active and impactful scholars working on these issues. His work has direct policy implications and he has been an influential voice informing environmental regulatory policy.
He has taught required courses in microeconomics and policy analysis for both master’s of public administration and executive master’s of public administration (EMPA) students and has also regularly taught an elective course on Environmental Economics and Policy. The microeconomic and policy analysis courses are among the most challenging for students in the MPA and EMPA curricula, particularly for students who lack prior preparation in economic and quantitative analysis. Popp consistently serves as faculty supervisor for one or two MPA capstone projects each year.
Popp served as director of the PAIA Ph.D. program from 2010-17. In that role, he developed a new teaching assistantship policy to ensure students have opportunities to develop a teaching portfolio prior to entering the job market. He also teaches the second semester Ph.D. research methods course, was responsible for advising all Ph.D. students on selection of courses and fields of specialization, coordinated the administration of comprehensive exams and led student recruitment, admission and placement efforts.
“Professor Popp sees the development of a doctoral student as a holistic affair. In his current tenure as the Ph.D. program director, his communications have consistently emphasized both research and teaching development opportunities,” says Robert Bifulco, professor, chair of the PAIA department and Maxwell associate dean, who nominated Popp for the award. “Most importantly, he is always available to listen to doctoral students discuss their anxieties and uncertainties and to provide sound reasonable advice for navigating the path to degree completion and Commencement and full-time employment.”
In addition to his role as Ph.D. director, Popp served has the main advisor for 12 Ph.D. students and as a Ph.D. committee member for an additional seven students in the PAIA department.
Dana Spiotta, associate professor of English, is the recipient of the 2018 Prize for Excellence in Master’s Level Teaching.
Spiotta, an accomplished fiction writer, joined the Syracuse University community in 2009. She has been key in building the college and University’s strengths in fiction writing. She has introduced new courses such as Ulysses for Writers (ENG 650) and developed signature iterations of core courses such as the first- and second-year fiction workshops and MFA essay seminar (ENG 799), which is required of all students in the M.F.A. program.
Her work as teacher and mentor goes well beyond the role of formal thesis supervisor. She has supervised some 13 M.F.A. fiction students and has worked extensively with many other students. She is known for her dedication to her students and her attention to student manuscripts, from beginning to end. And her mentorship continues well after her students have moved on from Syracuse.
Spiotta’s literary accomplishments include four novels: “Innocents and Others” (Scribner, 2016); “Stone Arabia” (Scribner, 2011); “Eat the Document” (Scribner, 2006); and “Lightning Field” (Scribner, 2001). “Innocents and Others” won two prestigious literary prizes: the St. Francis College Literary Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ John Updike Award.
“For the past nine years, Dana Spiotta’s M.F.A. teaching has shaped thinkers, writers and teachers of great achievement and promise,” says Erin Mackie, professor and chair of the Department of English and a nominator of Spiotta for the award. “She instructs and engages, inspires and leads.”
George Saunders, professor of English, says Spiotta is a wonderful mentor to young writers and gives generously of her time and insight. “She treats the teaching craft with such seriousness and respect and this is an additional form of mentorship: her students see the future teachers they may become, by observing her at work,” he says. “Speaking for myself, I find Dana’s presence in our program madly inspiring: a constant reminder of how important our job is, and that joy and engagement are the ways to vitalize one’s teaching life and connect that life with one’s creative pursuits.”
Popp will be honored at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on Friday, May 11, at 5 p.m. in the Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium. Spiotta will be honored at the College of Arts and Sciences Master’s Convocation on Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. in Setnor Auditorium, Crouse College.