Loren Cass, professor of political science and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, received the 2016 Holy Cross Distinguished Teaching Award at the annual Dean’s Fall Address and Faculty Awards Ceremony.
The Holy Cross Distinguished Teaching Award is presented each year to a faculty member who has demonstrated the College’s commitment to teaching and personalized instruction, making ideas come alive for students both in and out of the classroom. A selection committee composed of prior years’ awardees, students, and administrators reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, who makes the final selection.
According to Margaret Freije, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, Cass is an invaluable mentor and advisor to many at the College — most especially to students. Described as an energetic, passionate, and engaging teacher, Cass shows deep care for the intellectual growth of his students, exemplified through his innovative teaching methods, which include lecture, discussion, simulation exercises, and case studies that bring his courses to life.
“As a teacher, Loren nurtures deep relationships with his students,” Freije offered at the award presentation. “The students who nominated him for this award repeatedly commented on his ability to both communicate his own passion and knowledge about the subject and to elicit their participation in ways that challenged them and deepened their understanding.”
A scholar of global environmental politics, Cass teaches courses on topics including comparative environmental policy and global environmental politics, as well as international political economy and international relations.
“My role as a teacher is to bring my passion and expertise as a scholar to the classroom,” says Cass. “I don’t see my role as that of an advocate trying to impose a particular environmental ethic; rather, I want to raise the important questions of our day, provide a context for understanding the origins of environmental problems and the challenges of addressing them, and then equip my students with the tools to tackle those problems.
Cass’ impact on students transcends his classroom walls and even students’ time on campus through the mentorship he offers students in his courses, as well as his role as the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies , where he meets with students across disciplines to discuss student designed interdisciplinary majors and minors.
“Students are particularly enthusiastic about his willingness to talk to them about their interests and plans, helping them to discern their path through Holy Cross and beyond,” Freije said during her address. “He is fully committed to the education of the ‘whole student.’”
Regularly seeing the commitment Holy Cross faculty have to their students, Cass is particularly honored to receive this award.
“The award is a recognition of the great importance we place on teaching at Holy Cross,” says Cass. “To be recognized with this award from among the group of exceptionally talented scholar teachers that are my colleagues is a wonderful honor. In addition, the nominations come from both faculty and students, so it is deeply gratifying to know that my students took the time and energy to nominate me for this award.”
Also a result of student nominations, Cass was honored with the Mary Louise Marfuggi Award for Academic Advisement in 2010.
Cass, who earned his Ph.D. in political science from Brandeis University, joined the Holy Cross faculty in 1999. In addition to serving as the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies since 2013, Cass served as the faculty ombudsperson from 2011-13 and the director of environmental studies from 2008-2011. His work has been published in a range of academic journals and books, including “The International Studies Encyclopedia” (2015), “Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics” (2013), and “A Handbook of International Political Economy” (2012), and he has chaired, organized, and presented at more than 30 conferences across North America. Cass currently serves on six committees at Holy Cross, including the Holy Cross Presidential Taskforce on the Environment and the Committee on the Curriculum.
In addition to the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Raymond J. Swords, S.J., Faculty Medal was presented, honoring those members of the faculty who have served the College for 25 years or more. This year’s recipients were: David Chu, associate professor of accounting, director of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies, and pre-business advisor; M. Estrella Cibreiro-Couce, professor of Spanish and Dean of Class of 2018; Predrag Cicovacki, professor of philosophy; Christopher Dustin, professor of philosophy; Osvaldo Golijov, Loyola Professor of Music; and Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Office of the College Chaplains.
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