Stephen J. Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, has received the prestigious 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV).
During the 17 years Farnsworth has taught at UMW, he has helped students develop a deeper
understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. political and media systems. Along the way, he has become a favorite professor, due in particular to his commitment to presenting interesting lectures (in which he weaves stories from a decade of newspaper reporting), thinking of material in new ways, and treating students – and their ideas – with respect.
For his efforts, Farnsworth has won UMW’s Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Award, Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award and Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award, presented by the graduating class to the faculty member “who had the greatest impact on their lives.” In addition, the national political science association Pi Sigma Alpha recognized Farnsworth last fall for his dedication and service.
“In an ever-changing learning environment, Dr. Farnsworth is ahead of the curve in terms of incorporating technology in a meaningful way … ” current UMW student Christine MacKrell ’17 said of the professor’s mass media politics class, pointing to his use of real-life applications, such as weekly blog posts, news clips, articles, media and more.
One of the few political scientists who focuses on Virginia politics, Farnsworth’s research findings have direct policy implications for both members of the press and politicians. He handles hundreds of media contacts a year on local, state and international matters, and appears in or on such outlets as C-SPAN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and PBS News Hour.
“Steve Farnsworth is a paragon of pedagogical excellence both within and without the classroom,” said Jack Kramer, UMW distinguished professor and chair of political science and international affairs.
Farnsworth’s extraordinary list of scholarly publications touts five books, including his latest, The Global President: International Media and the U.S. Government, and too many research articles, paper presentations and opinion columns to mention. In addition, he has moderated Virginia political debates and organized visits of prominent state officials to UMW. Throughout, he remains dedicated to being accessible to students and getting them involved in his work.
“I am thrilled beyond words to have been selected by SCHEV,” said Farnsworth, who established UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies in 2012. “Only a handful of Mary Washington’s most impressive faculty have been selected for this lifetime achievement award, and I am deeply humbled to be listed among such exemplary friends and colleagues.”
Among those who have received SCHEV’s Outstanding Faculty Member Award are Miriam Liss, professor of psychology, who won in 2015; and Jeffrey McClurken ’94, professor of history and American studies and special assistant to the provost for teaching, technology and innovation, who won in 2014.
Preparing the nomination packet allowed Farnsworth to connect with former students who have gone on to amazing work – in Google’s Washington office, as top aides to the governor, as lawyers and public policy experts, even as professors in their own classrooms.
“Stephen Farnsworth demonstrates excellence in everything he does – here at UMW, throughout Virginia and the U.S., and in his significant global outreach efforts,” said UMW President Troy Paino.
Farnsworth holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and bachelor’s degrees from both the University of Missouri and Dartmouth College.
Farnsworth is one of 12 faculty members who were selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates to receive this year’s honor. The recipients will attend a February ceremony and luncheon in Richmond, where they also will be introduced on the floor of the General Assembly.