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Two W&M professors receive outstanding faculty awards

  • Outstanding Faculty
    Outstanding Faculty  W&M professors Christopher Howard and Lizabeth Allison received the Commonwealth of Virginia's highest honor for faculty on Monday.  Stephen Salpukas
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(Williamsburg, Va.) – Two William & Mary faculty members received the state’s highest honor for professors, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia announced today.

Christopher Howard, the Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy, and Lizabeth Allison, the Dorman Family Term Distinguished Professor of Biology and Director of Graduate Studies, are among only 12 professors out of 101 applicants statewide to receive the Commonwealth’s Outstanding Faculty Awards. The awards recognize the finest among Virginia’s college faculty for their demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and public service.

"This is a very appropriate recognition of two of William & Mary's most able professors," said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. "Liz and Chris are not only splendid teachers and scholars, but also marvelous members of our university community. It is grand to see them added to the long line of William & Mary faculty who've won this great honor."

Including this year’s awardees, 33 William & Mary professors have received the honor since the awards’ inception in 1987, more than any other university in the state On Feb. 19, this year’s honorees will be introduced on the floor of the Virginia General Assembly before receiving their awards during a luncheon ceremony.

“One of the great pleasures of working at the College of W&M is the extraordinary talent, commitment, and dedication of the faculty to not just fine teaching, but great teaching,” said Provost P. Geoffrey Feiss. “The College faculty's enviable record of success, year-after-year, in receiving these highly sought-after, prestigious awards is one important indicator that others recognize the superlative skills of our faculty.”

Howard, a leading expert on U.S. social policy and tax policy, has taught at William & Mary for 16 years. He has won two national research fellowships, published two books and numerous articles, contributed to various edited volumes and served as an advisor to myriad students. Howard also took an active role in the College’s Sharpe service-learning program, challenging students to address inequality and poverty in the Williamsburg community. After two years in the Sharpe Program, he was selected as the Robert J. Sharpe and Jane A. Sharpe Associate Professor of Civic Renewal and Social Entrepreneurship.

“I still remember what it was like as an undergraduate and graduate student,” he said. “I had some very good teachers myself and try to remember what I valued in them in terms of being treated fairly and honestly and with respect and with a certain amount of good humor as well.”

Howard received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1983. He later received both his master’s degree and doctorate in political science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received several honors and awards including Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Title of 2007 (for his book “The Welfare State Nobody Knows”).

Allison, too, is highly respected by her peers and has received a number of awards and honors in addition to this one.

“It means a lot to me because part of what’s important to me is balance in my life,” she said of the Outstanding Faculty Award. “It’s important for me to try to be excellent as a teacher and really reach my students, but I also love research – that’s equally important to me – as are other things I do the rest of the day – the service and outreach – and this award is about all of those things.”

Allison, who has been at William & Mary for 11 years, is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of “traffic control” in normal and cancer cells. She has received over $1.8 million in research grants or contracts and has published her findings in major scientific journals with her students – both undergraduate and graduate – as contributors. The College textbook that she wrote is widely used, and her teaching skills inspire students at all levels. She promotes diversity in the scientific community and has created partnerships with local Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Because of her leadership skills, she was recently asked to serve on the Planning Steering Committee for William & Mary’s new strategic plan.

Allison received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in biological sciences from the University of Alaska. In 1989, she completed her doctorate in Zoology/Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Washington. Among the honors and awards she has received over the years are the Grace J. Blank Teaching Award from William & Mary in 2000 and the Alumni Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.

For more information on the Outstanding Faculty Awards, visit

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