A child psychologist crusading for public health. An award-winning interdisciplinary scholar keeping Russian studies relevant in the modern world. A widely-published physicist exploring the most mysterious particles in the universe. These are just a few of the 20 talented and trailblazing professors from William & Mary to receive the 2017 Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence. Today, the university is announcing all of this year’s honorees.
The award was established in 2009 thanks to a generous gift from Joseph J. Plumeri II ’66, D.P.S. ’11. Plumeri, who served as the chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings before becoming vice chairman of the First Data Board of Directors in 2014, is also a dedicated philanthropist, giving millions to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, among many other organizations. He has also long been a steadfast and generous supporter of William & Mary, creating scholarships, building playing and practice facilities for baseball at Plumeri Park and establishing the W&M/Plumeri Pro-Am Golf Tournament. He is also an honorary co-chair for the upcoming William & Mary Weekend in New York City. Plumeri established this eponymous award in 2009 in order to encourage exceptional faculty members to pursue their research interests and further challenge their students.
“As a student at William & Mary, so many extraordinary professors encouraged me to think creatively, to innovate and to persist, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles,” said Plumeri. “I am thrilled to honor those professors whose passion for pursuing their life’s work has inspired the entire William & Mary community.”
Each year, the awards recognize 20 faculty members for outstanding achievements in teaching, research and service. All recipients receive $10,000, which can be used during the course of two years to fund summer salaries, research or other stipends associated with scholarly endeavors.
"The ultimate goal of the Plumeri Awards is to promote and reward the innovation and creativity of our faculty, who serve as the foundation for the university's excellence,” said Provost Michael Halleran. “Invariably, recipients of Plumeri Awards express what a significant difference their awards make in their teaching and research. That difference can be felt across campus and beyond."
For one past recipient, the impact of the award has been extraordinary. Adam Gershowitz, a law professor and 2015 Plumeri Award recipient, used his funding to examine the emerging doctrine on the Fourth Amendment and technology. He was particularly interested in researching and analyzing cell phone search warrant cases. His subsequent findings were published by the Vanderbilt Law Review and he also incorporated the research into his criminal procedure course at the law school.
According to Gershowitz, "The Plumeri award enabled me to study the most current cases — even those that weren’t yet reported widely — to see what courts are doing and to identify best practices for what courts should do moving forward."
“Courts and legislatures are struggling to find the right balance between the need for surveillance and personal privacy. This is particularly significant with respect to cell phones because they now hold sensitive personal information that used to be locked away in people’s homes,” Gershowitz elaborated. “So, when law enforcement has a legitimate reason to search for incriminating text messages or emails, courts have to decide how much of a person’s digital life law enforcement can be allowed to search through. Should we let them look at everything, or should search warrants be drafted narrowly to ensure that the invasion of privacy is as limited as possible?”
Gershowitz isn’t alone in seeing the broader implications of the Plumeri Awards.
“Joe has done so many remarkable things for William & Mary over the years,” said Vice President for University Advancement Matthew T. Lambert ’99, “and one of his biggest contributions is ensuring that our university remains at the forefront of scholarly pursuit. We are all very grateful.”
The Plumeri Award recipient from the School of Education is:
Jeremy D. Stoddard
Associate Professor of Education and Department Chair of Curriculum and Instruction
Stoddard innovates constantly and has found engaging ways to teach his students the significance of education and media studies in the modern world. Stoddard joined the faculty in 2006 and has served the university in a variety of roles, utilizing his expertise in education and media to lead in the School of Education as chair of the curriculum and instruction department. In addition, he has served as director of the Cambridge Summer Study Abroad program and the William & Mary Summer Institute in New Media in Washington, D.C. His publications in the field of education and media are frequent and influential, numbering over 40 academic publications since arriving at the university. He served as editor for Theory and Research in Social Education while also serving on a number of editorial boards for leading education journals (e.g. Journal of Teacher Education). His courses emphasize deep inquiry, high levels of student engagement in discussion and deliberation, and the application of theory into his students’ teaching practices.
Combined with his accessibility and interest in his students’ success, his teaching has consistently received extremely high ratings amongst his students and he was recognized by William & Mary with the Alumni Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching. He holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.