June 14, 2006

Cornell faculty recognized for outstanding public-service initiatives

Mary Katzenstein, professor and acting chair of Cornell's Department of Government, and Monroe Weber-Shirk, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, have been awarded 2006 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowships for outstanding public-service initiatives.

The fellowships recognize the importance of civic engagement in higher education and include a $5,000 award to enable the faculty members to further develop an ongoing community-based learning or research project, to initiate a new effort or to seek the institutionalizing of a service-learning course. The award reinforces Cornell's tradition of service to society and fosters further extension of public scholarship to all facets of Cornell's mission.

Katzenstein's project, Inside/Out: Crime and Punishment in the United States, establishes a spring-semester class, to be taught at a local prison, in which Cornell students and student-inmates will be jointly enrolled. The idea for this class has evolved out of her experience teaching Government 314 (Prisons) over the past five years at Cornell and a course on theories of power at a prison in Auburn, N.Y.

Weber-Shirk's initiative, the Honduras Water Supply Project, aims to improve water-treatment technologies, so that communities can afford safe, clean water, while providing an exceptional educational experience for university students. The focus is on small-scale water treatment systems that can operate without an external power source and that can be maintained by rural communities.

The fellowships are part of the Kaplan Family Endowment for Public Service. Barbara Kaplan '59, her husband, Leslie Kaplan, son Douglas Kaplan '88 and daughter Emily Kaplan '91 established the endowment in 2001 both to support the service-learning fellowship and the Kaplan Family Distinguished Lecture in Public Service. The endowment aims to inspire students, faculty and staff to a life of service and civic engagement while creating opportunities for public scholarship and active participation in community life.

The Cornell Public Service Center coordinates and supports public service for members of the Cornell community.