Four CHSS faculty honored with Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) is pleased to announce that four of its faculty members, Richard Craig, Christopher Koper, Evan Louder, and Courtney Wooten, have been chosen to receive 2023 Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence. 

Sponsored by George Mason University’s Office of the President, the Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence recognize, promote, and honor outstanding members of our community for excellence in teaching, research, social impact, and diversity and inclusion.  

The college congratulates its 2023 honorees: 

Richard T. Craig, associate professor in the Department of Communication and director of the MA in Communication Program, is the recipient of the United Bank Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion. This award recognizes extraordinary contributions in teaching, research, scholarship, creative works or service that directly advances diversity and inclusion inside and outside the Mason community.

Craig began his career at Mason as a Preparing Future Faculty Fellow in 2009. Upon receiving his PhD from Howard University in 2011, he was appointed to a tenure-track position. He earned tenure and promotion to associ­ate professor in 2017 and has served as the director of the Communication MA Program since that time.

In 2020–21, Craig was part of the faculty leadership team that planned the scale-up of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) course that was approved to meet both Global Understanding and Social and Behavioral Sciences requirements for the Mason Core. 

He has served as a member of the Just Society Task Force that worked with a subset of the Ma­son Core Committee and served on the Quality Enhancement Plan Development Committee, which cre­ated the Transformative Education through Anti-Racist Community Engagement plan. 

Currently, Craig is working to establish the Pop Culture Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access studies (IDEAs) Lab promoting and encouraging scholarship with a range of interest in pop culture.  

Christopher S. Koper, professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Soci­ety, and the principal fellow of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, was selected as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact. Koper specializes in issues related to policing, firearms policy, program evaluation, and evidence-based policy and practice. He has conducted extensive research for the U.S. Department of Justice and worked with many criminal justice practitioners and policymakers locally, nationally, and globally on the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs. 

Koper’s studies on firearms policy and polic­ing have been cited extensively by policy­makers and the media and used by numer­ous police agencies in the United States and internationally. Koper is a fellow of the Acad­emy of Experimental Criminology, coeditor of Criminology & Public Policy, coauthor of the award-winning book Evidence-Based Policing: Translating Research into Practice, and a recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Division of Policing of the American Society of Criminology. 

Evan Marie Lowder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, was selected as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence in Research. Lowder researches strategies to reduce jus­tice system contact and improve behavioral health outcomes among adults in the justice system or at risk of justice system involvement. Her work seeks to elevate decarceral strategies that promote individuals’ risk management and their connections to needed services in the community. She is also interested in understanding what drives disparate outcomes in the legal system, particularly for Black individuals. 

Since joining Mason in 2019, Lowder has received more than $1 million in funding from local, state, and national organizations to study early in­tervention strategies that connect justice-in­volved individuals to community-based treatment, facilitate release from pretrial de­tention, and improve community outcomes. Her research routinely involves collabora­tion with professionals in local community organizations, jails, pretrial services, courts, and community corrections. At Mason, she directs the Early Justice Strategies Lab, which trains undergraduate and graduate students in applied research methods. 

Courtney Adams Wooten, associate chair for writing program administration and an assistant professor in the English Depart­ment, was selected as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching She joined Mason in 2018 and regularly teaches general education composition courses as well as graduate courses in composition pedagogy. 

Wooten has worked on projects such as a linguistic justice and contract grading working groups. She has also col­laborated with other faculty members on various projects that received two Mason Curriculum Impact Grants, a Stearns Center Anti-Racist and Inclusive Teaching (ARIT) Grant, and a national Conference on College Composition and Communication Research Initiative Grant. 

Wooten served on the Council of Writing Program Administrators Executive Board, and has edited many books and collections, in addition to publishing arti­cles and book chapters about writing pro­gram administration and writing pedagogy. She has also served on the Mason Core Committee and the Faculty Senate Task Force on Reimagining Faculty Roles and Rewards. 

Dean Ann Ardis shared her congratulations with the award recipients. “I commend each of these outstanding members of our faculty for their commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service that has had a significant impact on the Mason community and beyond,” she said. “This is the highest award faculty members can receive at a university, and it is a testament to their hard work and dedication, as I have seen first-hand.”

Award recipients will be honored at a reception on May 11. Congratulations to all of the award winners!