Outstanding Faculty and Staff Recognized at Spring Convocation
The College of Arts & Sciences celebrated its esteemed faculty and staff at its spring convocation.
Three professors received Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching: Abigail Marsh, Natsu Onoda Power and Iris Smorodisnky. Senior Associate Dean and Director of Advising Thom Chiarolanzio received the Distinguished Service Staff Award and Professor Nicoletta Pireddu received the Condé Nast Award.
Marsh, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, received one of the Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. An internationally-recognized scholar whose work probes the intersection of neuroscience and empathy, Marsh makes a habit of mentoring student researchers both in her lab and in the classroom.
“Professor Marsh is a highly accomplished and dedicated teacher-scholar whose contributions have had a significant impact on the field of psychology and the university community,” said Vice Dean of Faculty Elena Silva. “We are honored to recognize Professor Marsh as an outstanding teacher-scholar, and we look forward to her continued success in inspiring and educating the next generation of scholars.”
Beloved by students and colleagues, Marsh has been nominated five times for honors in the College of Arts & Sciences. Last spring, Marsh received the prestigious Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence, which is chosen by a vote of the graduating class and presented to the member of the College of Arts & Sciences faculty who “is admired and respected by all students for their service to Georgetown in the classroom and on the campus community.”
Natsu Onoda Power
Onoda Power, the artistic director of the Davis Performing Arts Center and a professor in the Department of Performing Arts, received one of the Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. A playwright, director and set designer, Onoda Power has taught in the College of Arts & Sciences since 2005.
As the onset of the coronavirus pandemic upended the traditional in-person classroom, Onoda Power pursued novel applications of virtual instruction. In March 2021, she directed a virtual show, Okinawa Field Trip, which was produced by students in one of her classes. Each night of its run, the production invited two dozen audience members to join a virtual field trip. Led by a Dugong – a vulnerable marine mammal related to manatees – audience members traversed from the front gates of Georgetown to their final destination of Okinawa, Japan. The show explored the relationship between themes of environmental justice, social justice and the legacies of war.
“Developing this piece was a rigorous exercise in the theatrical application of Zoom and community-building, intercultural exchange and facilitating difficult conversations through performance,” said Ben Harbert, chair of the Department of Performing Arts.
In all of her classes, Onoda Power weaves together theory and practice, giving students a chance to go deep in courses on special topics, such as Performing Madness, wherein students investigate the intersection between theater and mental illness, with a broad interdisciplinary focus that relies on a wide array of readings.
Smorodinsky, a teaching professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies, received one of the Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. She is well-known amongst colleagues, alumni and students as a dedicated, thoughtful and transformative instructor.
Throughout more than 15 years in the College of Arts & Sciences, Smorodinsky has taught and contributed to the design of nearly all of the French language courses taught at Georgetown. In 2015, Smorodinsky created a popular class in French phonetics, the first of its kind offered by the department in decades.
Beyond the classroom, Smorodinsky has been a boon to her colleagues as a course coordinator, pulling together a treasure trove of pedagogical tools to improve French language instruction on the Hilltop. For 13 years, Smorodinsky implemented and oversaw the departmental placement test and confirmation exam, both of which are essential to the French language curriculum and together have been taken by thousands of incoming students. l
“In many ways, Professor Smorodinsky is the ideal teacher: rigorous and at the same time supportive and approachable,” said Vice Dean of Faculty Andrew Sobanet. “She has been extraordinarily generous with her talents and her time, and she represents what is best about Georgetown. Her teaching evaluations are consistently exemplary, her sections oversubscribed; she is trusted and sought out by students for her clarity, warmth and acumen.”
Senior Associate Dean Chiarolanzio, who serves as the College’s Director of Advising, received the Distinguished Service Staff Award. Chiarolanzio has called the Hilltop home for more than 27 years, advising generations of Hoyas and helping thousands of students discover their potential.
The award is presented to a member of the staff of the College of Arts & Science who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service to the ideals of the school, including selflessness as a person for others, cura personalis, commitment to community in diversity and creative leadership and service in support of academic excellence.
“Thom’s leadership of our advising operation is rooted in a love for our students, for the liberal arts in the Jesuit tradition, for Georgetown and for his colleagues,” said Dean Rosario Ceballo. “Thom’s colleagues describe him as ‘the epitome of cura personalis,’ as ‘the spiritual center of the academic center of the student experience’ and the essence of ‘generosity and selflessness despite his overflowing plate.’”
In addition to leading the advising team of the College of Arts & Sciences, Chiarolanzio serves on a slew of committees and initiatives across campus, including the Honor Council, Athletics, Admissions and Enrollment Management. He has also launched two celebrated initiatives: the Sophomore Success Series and the Social Responsibility Network.
Pireddu, a professor in the Department of Italian and the inaugural director of the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, received the Condé Nast Award. Founded by the College Student Council in 1966, the award honors the memory of the first President of the Yard. It is awarded annually by the College of Arts & Sciences to a faculty member who has served the College with distinguished teaching, research and service or leadership.
“I have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing Professor Pireddu’s leadership, especially in her dynamic and creative work launching and sustaining the Humanities Institute,” said Dean Ceballo. “Thanks to Nicoletta, Georgetown’s enduring strengths in the humanities now enjoy a bigger platform and an engine for innovation and collaboration.”
A specialist in comparative literature, Pireddu has left an indelible mark on the Hilltop. Under her leadership, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative has breathed new life into the humanities on campus. Recently, the initiative received a $750,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a humanities hub on campus.
A well-respected scholar, Pireddu’s most recent book Migrating Minds: Theories and Practices of Cultural Cosmopolitanism was recently awarded the René Welleck Prize. Conferred by the American Comparative Literature Association, it is the field’s most prestigious accolade. In addition, Pireddu recently launched an open-access journal bearing the same name. The first issue of Migrating Minds is set to be published in the fall.