Anthony “Kwame” Harrison, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies and associate professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received Certificates of Teaching Excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

“Kwame is exceptional in the classroom, in part because of his love of teaching and the high expectation he places on himself,” Carol A. Bailey, associate professor of sociology, wrote in her nomination of Harrison for the award. “He deftly turns a group of young adults who may have little investment in the course into a community of learners who are actively engaged in their own learning.”

His scholarship and reputation in popular music studies and ethnography have brought considerable visibility to the university and inspire students to exceed their own expectations for learning, intellectual development, and personal growth. In addition, he actively promotes undergraduate research opportunities. He has, for example, supervised more than seven undergraduate research projects, one of which led to a co-published article with the student.

He also serves on the faculty editorial advisory board of Philogia, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences' undergraduate research journal, and is a liaison to the college’s Undergraduate Research Institute.

Another aspect of Harrison’s teaching contributions is his passion for recruiting and helping prospective students and then assisting in the transition from high school to college. In the area of recruitment, he co-founded the Virginia Tech Coordinated School Visit program to recruit underrepresented graduates students. In addition, he was a member of the Tomorrow’s Scholars subcommittee of the University Strategic Plan Task Force, and he frequently gives talks and lectures to various student organizations.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2004, Harrison received the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ Carroll B. Shannon Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014, the Department of Sociology’s E. Gordon Erickson (Outstanding Graduate Faculty) Award in 2012, the Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar Award in 2011, and the Department of Sociology’s Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award in 2007 and 2011.

Harrison is a member of the American Anthropological Association, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, National Council for Black Studies, and Southern Sociological Society.

He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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