A sociologist crusading to maintain the integrity of the democratic process through voter districting. An English professor introducing William & Mary students to the infinite possibilities of digital journalism. A marine scientist investigating the impact of sea level rise on the wetlands. As William & Mary celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Plumeri Awards for Faculty Excellence, these are just a few of the distinguished professors to receive that honor. Today, the university is announcing the 2018 recipients.
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.
“For 10 years, the Plumeri Awards have rewarded many of our strongest faculty, who stand at the vanguard of academic inquiry, and recipients have invariably expressed their gratitude for this award that has made a huge difference in their teaching and research, “ said Provost Michael Halleran. “Whether professors are attending conferences, funding research for themselves and their students, or creating new initiatives with far-flung collaborators, the Plumeri Awards have made a lasting impact at William & Mary, in the commonwealth and in the world.”
Joseph J. Plumeri ’66, D.P.S. ’11, established the eponymous award in 2009 in order to encourage exceptional faculty members to pursue their research interests and further challenge their students. Over the last decade, 170 professors have benefited from this generosity, and it shows in their teaching and scholarship.
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 the Plumeri Park baseball facilities and establishing the W&M/Plumeri Pro-Am Golf Tournament. He was also an honorary co-chair for last year’s W&M Weekend in New York City.
“When I was a William & Mary student, my professors instilled in me the need to think creatively, ask difficult questions and above all, persist in the face of adversity,” said Plumeri. “I am thrilled to honor those professors whose creativity and passion inspire the entire William & Mary community.”
In the School of Education, Assistant Professor of Education Jason Chen was selected as a Plumeri Award winner for 2018.
Chen is an educational psychologist interested in how learning environments, especially virtual environments, can be created to direct people's motivational resources toward scientific inquiry. Recently, with the help of a National Science Foundation grant, he has researched the affordances of using mixed-reality virtual environments in combination with intensive training to help geoscientists develop the skills and motivation to do something very difficult: identify and redress prejudices that marginalize women and people of color in the geosciences.
He has made strong service contributions at the local and national levels, serving the American Educational Research Association and the American Psychological Association in roles such as program co-chair, mentor for doctoral students and conference program reviewer. He also serves on the editorial board of two journals.
Since joining William & Mary in 2012, Jason has been an active member of the School of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee and Diversity Committee and served on several search committees for new faculty hires including the associate dean for research. He is a rigorous scholar who advances research on how students learn, especially within a technologically mediated world. He also empowers educators to become leaders in championing for diversity. Chen earned his Ph.D. from Emory University.