Edward Maibach, Cynthia Fuchs receive Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence

by Anne Reynolds

Edward Maibach, Cynthia Fuchs receive Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence

Prior to Mason’s Celebration of the Class of 2020 on May 22, Interim President Anne Holton continued a university tradition, naming four members of Mason’s faculty as recipients of the 2020 Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence.

Two of the college’s faculty members are recognized with the awards this year. Edward Maibach, University Professor for Communication and director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, has received the Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship. Cynthia Fuchs, faculty member in the Department of English, associate director of the Film and Video Studies program (College of Visual and Performing Arts), and longtime director of Mason’s Visiting Filmmakers Series, has received the United Bank Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion.

“Since the day I arrived 12 years ago, Mason has consistently supported my research in every way possible,” said Maibach. “I am so grateful for that, and for the recognition that comes with the Beck Family Presidential Medal.”

Maibach’s research explores public opinion, understanding, and concern about climate change. In its announcement of the Beck Family Presidential Medal, the university noted that his work “addresses the communication and behavior change challenges associated with climate change, such as where and how citizens learn about the issue, and has impacted public policy discussions nationally and globally.”

“In our weekly research seminar,” said Maibach, “Professor Silvio Waisbord of George Washington University presented his thoughts on public scholarship to us.  According to his definition, public scholarship connects individuals, institutions and ideas; fosters bonds beyond academia; and makes important problems and ideas more visible. That connected deeply with me. For the first time, I came to see my work as public scholarship.”

Cynthia Fuchs has served as the director of the Visting Fimmakers Series since its inception in 1995. In its announcement of her award, the university described the impact of her work:

The United Bank Medal honors a faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion. Fuchs, creator and curator of the Visiting Filmmakers Series at Mason for the past 25 years, ensured that the mission of this program creates “opportunities for students, community members, and filmmakers to meet and discuss diverse and necessary films and themes.” She is also a faculty member in African and African American Studies, Sport and American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies.

“I am thrilled that the award recognizes the work of the Visiting Filmmakers Series, which is the result of collaborations with many people and programs, not to mention guests, over many years,” said Fuchs. The series is officially supported by both CHSS and CVPA, which Fuchs said makes sense, as the collaborative effort “always reaches across colleges, units, and programs.”

During the unusual spring 2020 semester, where COVID-19 forced university programs online, the series moved online as well. “We put on an incredible online version of the series,” said Fuchs, “featuring 25 sessions and 34 guests.”

Overall, she continued, “It's been an incredible educational experience for me, sharing films, conversations, and dinners with our many guests and the Mason community members who have participated in our events. The series is in part a function of my own interests, of course, and my commitment to bringing together students, faculty, staff, and artists, as well as to supporting innovative, creative, and politically engaged artists.”