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Faculty and Staff Celebrated at Spring Convocation

The College of Arts & Sciences gathered in Copley Formal Lounge to celebrate the outstanding faculty and staff who comprise its exceptional community of scholars. 

“Every year, I am delighted to take this time — just as spring is beginning — to congratulate and celebrate important contributions made by our faculty and staff,” said Rosario Ceballo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “These seven awards recognize our incredible colleagues whose work in the classroom, the office and the wider world contribute to the vitality and richness of our academic community.”

Three professors received Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching: Charles McNelis, Donatella Melucci and Joseph McCartin. Two staff members received the Distinguished Service Staff Award: Lanah Koelle and Courtney Feldman. Sabrina Wesley-Nero (SFS’95) received the Condé Nast Award and Shweta Basal received the Farr Faculty Excellence Award.

Charles McNelis

A bespectacled man with short, gray hair stands in front of a stained glass window. He wars a navy suit jacket and a light blue tie.

Professor Charles McNelis looks on as his citation is read in Copley Formal Lounge.

Charles McNelis, the faculty director of Graduate Liberal Studies and a professor in the Department of Classics, received the Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. 

“I am deeply humbled by this award, and grateful to my colleagues in Classics and beyond for their support,” said McNelis. “Most of all, I am thankful to the students at Georgetown for their energetic curiosity and willingness to think about human experiences from a variety of perspectives, both ancient and modern.”

McNelis, who came to the Hilltop in 2002, is well-loved by students who consistently rave about his courses, in which he introduces budding classicists to the great poetry and literature of antiquity. 

“In his more than twenty years on the Hilltop, Professor Charles McNelis has revolutionized the teaching of both Greek and Latin language and literature,” said Andrew Sobanet, vice dean for faculty affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences. “His courses explore the ancient world in ways that allow students to expand their horizons and to deepen their understanding of contemporary notions of literature, religion, sexuality and gender. Consistently highly enrolled and highly rated, Professor McNelis’ courses are rigorous, challenging, stimulating and fast paced.”

McNelis researches the connections between Greek and Latin literatures, particularly in the genre of epic poetry. He has published extensively on the 1st-century poet Statius. McNelis’ book, Statius’ Thebaid and the Poetics of Civil War, argues that aspects of modern civil war are manifest in the poet’s re-telling of the battle between the sons of Oedipus for the throne of Thebes. His soon-to-be published version of Statius’ Achilleid extensively examines and develops both ancient and modern notions about sexuality and gender.

“Professor McNelis’s work with our students represents the best of Georgetown’s College of Arts & Sciences: he consistently focuses on his students’ intellectual growth; he has been an active and generous mentor; and his classes have a long-lasting impact on his students’ lives,” said Sobanet. “We are most fortunate to count Professor Charles McNelis among our faculty.” 

Donatella Melucci 

A bespectacled woman with medium-length brown hair smiles in front of a book case. She wears a black blouse and a red blazer.

Donatella Melucci in Copley Formal Lounge after receiving the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Donatella Melucci, a teaching professor in the Department of Italian Studies, received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

“I am overflowing with gratitude upon receiving the 2023 Dean’s Excellence In Teaching Award,” said Melucci. “This recognition reflects the incredible support, collaboration and inspiration I have received from my colleagues, the Department of Italian Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.”

Melucci’s in-demand course on Italian translation invites advanced students to put their skills to the test by translating Italian books into English for publication. Their coursework, once completed, is reviewed by the original authors and publishers before the printed and bound copies hit bookstore shelves with their names attached. 

“In her fifteen years of teaching in Georgetown University’s College of Arts & Sciences, Professor Donatella Melucci has been an inspiration to our students,” said Sobanet. “Her courses in the Department of Italian have been wide-ranging, dynamic and rigorous. Experiential learning is a signature element of Professor Melucci’s teaching.”  

Melucci has authored, co-authored and edited numerous textbooks on the teaching of Italian as a foreign language.

“Most recently, Professor Melucci has brought her passion and innovative spirit to her position as one of our inaugural co-directors of the International Business, Language, and Culture program,” said Sobanet. “Throughout the years, Professor Melucci’s attention to our students’ personal and intellectual growth and her commitment to Georgetown’s ideal of cura personalis have been nothing short of exemplary.”

“A special thanks goes to my wonderful students, who are the heartbeat of my teaching practice,” Melucci said. “Their enthusiasm, curiosity and unwavering determination inspire me every day. It is a privilege to be a part of their educational journey, and I am honored to play a role in shaping their future.”

Joseph McCartin

A bespectacled man with short, gray hair softly smiles indoors. He is lit from behind and wears a navy suit jacket and a white button down shirt.

Professor Joseph McCartin in Copley Formal Lounge.

Joseph McCartin, a professor in the Department of History, received a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

“I consider it the highest honor of my teaching career to be recognized by colleagues and administrators whose passionate commitments to education inspire me and by an institution that has taught me to see teaching as an act of cura personalis,” said McCartin. “I feel so lucky to teach here.”

McCartin, who has taught on the Hilltop for some 25 years, is an expert on U.S. labor, social and political history

“Professor Joseph McCartin has taught thousands of students across a wide array of courses and levels,” said Elena Silva, vice dean for faculty affairs. “His pedagogy focuses not only on sharing his deep understanding of American and global labor history but on connecting classroom learning to the development of informed and self-reflective modes of social and political engagement.” 

McCartin’s research has focused on the politics of labor, organizing and the working class in America throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. His book Collision Course investigates the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) illegal strike in 1981 and its subsequent decertification by the Reagan Administration, situating the event and its handling as one of the most pivotal moments in the history of American labor. 

“As the founder and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for the Labor and Working Poor, he has supervised students in hands-on, socially engaged work that complements what they have learned in his classes and prepared them for internships with community organizations, social-justice initiatives, think tanks and labor unions,” said Silva. “Humble to his core, Professor McCartin exemplifies the ideal of social engaged pedagogy. We are delighted to recognize his commitment to advancing knowledge and fostering a dynamic learning environment for all students.” 

Lanah Koelle

A woman with medium-length dark hair smiles outside. She wears a black top and red lipstick.

Lanah Koelle, who serves as the manager of academic records in the College of Arts & Sciences, received the Distinguished Service Staff Award. 

“This award is such an honor! I’m grateful to collaborate with such excellent colleagues in the Dean’s Office,” said Koelle. “Though I’ve been at Georgetown for a little more than two years, I’m excited to have made an impact and to receive recognition for my work supporting CAS programs and students.”

“Ms. Koelle is widely appreciated for a calming and unflappable presence, her ability to organize and her unfailing collegiality,” said Woods. “Lanah has become expert in the many and complex database systems that produce reports relied on by deans, departments and programs across the College. She is also known for anticipating problems and choke points, and for devising and implementing solutions.”

Before coming to the Hilltop, Koelle worked as a program manager and librarian at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies. At Georgetown, Koelle balances numerous responsibilities related to the oversight and record keeping for more than 3,400 undergraduate students. 

“Ms. Koelle’s many responsibilities include management of degree audits for the approximately 50 major and 50 minors pursued by students in the College of Arts and Sciences; managing behind-the-scenes work to make CAS Commencement run smoothly via accurate graduation lists used in the Commencement program book and to order diplomas; managing the production of myriad departmental reports; as well as accurate processing of all student academic forms,” said Woods. “Ms. Koelle was an essential member of the CAS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and the Main-Med Sciences at Georgetown Task Force”

Off campus, Koelle is a jazz musician and vocalist who frequently performs in the wider Washington, DC area. 

Courtney Feldman

A woman with long, dark hair smiles in front of a wood paneled wall. She wears hoop earrings and a patterned blouse with a navy blue cardigan.

Courtney Feldman in Copley Formal Lounge after receiving her award.

Courtney Feldman, an administrative officer in the Department of German, received a Distinguished Service Staff Award. 

“I am truly touched to receive this award,” said Feldman. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with such a wonderful group of people during my time at Georgetown and their support means so much to me.” 

“Ms. Courtney Feldman has served as the administrative officer for the German Department since 2015, demonstrating dedication, creativity and precision in her role,” said Mary Helen Dupree, interim chair of the Department of German. “She meticulously tends to all administrative and organizational tasks, offering equal attention not only to the department’s degree programs but to all its activities, with a sharp eye for how they combine to create a full experience.”

Prior to arriving on the Hilltop, Feldman worked as a projectionist and manager for many years for several cinemas in Detroit, Chicago and Baltimore. She holds a bachelor’s degree in German from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.  

“In addition to her work for the German Department, Ms. Feldman has generously stepped in to fill in administrative gaps in other Departments, especially during and since the pandemic without seeking additional compensation,” said Dupree. “For her exceptional and tireless contributions, we are honored to recognize Ms. Courtney Feldman with the College of Arts & Sciences’ 2024 Distinguished Staff Service Award.”

Shweta Bansal

A woman with long, dark hair smiles in front of a stained glass window. She wears a white blouse and a striped suit jacket.

Shweta Bansal in Copley Formal Lounge.

Shweta Bansal, a professor in the Department of Biology, received the Farr Faculty Excellence Award. 

The Farr Faculty Excellence Award honors excellent faculty research, effective mentoring of student research and/or innovative dissemination of scientific knowledge in the natural sciences, computer science, mathematics and statistics and psychology.

Bansal, who holds a slew of positions across campus in addition to her role as a professor, is a sought-after expert in the fields of public health and infectious disease. 

“Professor Bansal is a trailblazing scholar renowned for her groundbreaking work on the interplay between social behavior and infectious disease dynamics, revolutionizing traditional approaches with innovative socio-ecological mathematical models,” said Silva. “Professor Bansal has been particularly active in disseminating scientific knowledge in an effort to combat misinformation, particularly regarding viral diseases like COVID-19 and influenza.”

On the Hilltop, Bansal serves as graduate faculty in both the Global Infectious Diseases Ph.D. Program and the Biology Ph.D. Program. She is also affiliate faculty for the Massive Data Institute, the Global Health Institute and Earth Commons.

“Professor Bansal demonstrates exceptional dedication to mentoring, guiding numerous scholars at various stages of their academic journey mentoring over 30 undergraduates with many co-authoring peer-reviewed research articles and receiving prestigious fellowships, including the Rhodes, Fulbright and Churchill scholarships,” said Silva. “Professor Bansal’s multifaceted contributions underscore her as an exemplary recipient for the Farr Faculty Excellence Award, embodying the essence of scholarly excellence and societal impact.”

Sabrina Wesley-Nero

A woman with long, dark hair smiles. She holds a framed award and wears a bright red cardigan.

Sabrina Wesley-Nero holds the the Condé Nast Award.

Sabrina Wesley-Nero (SFS’95), a teaching professor in the Program in Education, Inquiry, and Justice, received the Condé Nast Award. 

First awarded in 1966 by the College Student Council to honor the memory of the first President of the Yard, the Condé Nast Award 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.

“Through my work at Georgetown, I help undergraduate and graduate students imagine and work toward an education system that centers the needs of those furthest from opportunity, lead and develop programs in collaboration with brilliant and dedicated colleagues and partner with educators in schools and communities to move us toward a more just society through equity-oriented education,” said Wesley-Nero. “It is a privilege to do this work, and I am grateful.”

Wesley-Nero’s research focuses on the experiences of marginalized students and the factors that contribute to their success or failure in the education system.

“In her decade at Georgetown, Professor Sabrina Wesley-Nero has demonstrated both success in the classroom and dedication to the larger community,” said Dean Ceballo. “She has left an indelible mark on two Georgetown programs — the Education, Inquiry, and Justice Program and the MA in Educational Transformation.” 

In addition to serving as a leader on campus in numerous roles, including as the director of the Program in Education, Inquiry and Justice, she has taken her scholarship into the wider world. Wesley-Nero received national acclaim for developing the curriculum for the 1619 Freedom School in Waterloo, Iowa, a collaboration with Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. 

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