Two Professors Receive John Ireland Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Teacher-Scholar

Professors Lisa Waldner and Gregory Sisk have been named recipients of the John Ireland Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Teacher-Scholar for 2014.

The award, presented annually since 2008, recognizes outstanding academic achievement of faculty in teaching and scholarship, and exemplifies the mission and values of the University of St. Thomas as an institution committed to the teacher-scholar model. Awardees are tenured members of the St. Thomas faculty who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to not only their respective disciplines but also to the university.

Waldner, professor and chair of sociology and criminal justice, has taught at St. Thomas since 2001. Sisk, professor and Pio Cardinal Laghi Distinguished Chair in Law at the School of Law, has taught at St. Thomas since 2003.

Awardees’ names are added to the John Ireland Presidential Award plaque, located in Aquinas Hall, and receive an annual award of $1,500 to support continued professional development activities while actively employed as faculty members at St. Thomas.

Dr. Lisa Waldner

Dr. Lisa Waldner

Lisa Waldner

Waldner received her B.A. and M.A. in sociology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and her Ph.D. from Iowa State University. She co-edits The Sociological Quarterly with Dr. Betty Dobratz of Iowa State. In 2006 she received the Undergraduate Research and Collaborative Scholarship award at St. Thomas for her work with students. Prior to joining the faculty at St. Thomas, she received three teaching awards including the Enron excellence award from the University of Houston-Downtown and two awards from Iowa State University.

Waldner's published research appears in Mobilization, Sociology Compass, Violence and Victims, Youth and Society, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Sociological Imagination, Research in Political Sociology, Archives of Sexual Behavior, and the Journal of Homosexuality. Her research topics include graffiti, gay skinheads, anti-gay hate crimes, domestic violence, sexual coercion, AIDS education, identity issues of lesbian and gay adolescents, and political participation. Her co-written textbook, Power, Politics, and Society: An Introduction to Political Sociology, is published by Pearson. She has written or co-written book chapters published by Routledge, Oxford University Press and Temple University Press. She currently is interviewing individuals who create political graffiti.

In his nomination letter, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Terence Langan said that since becoming full professor in 2006, Waldner has been a productive scholar, while also serving as department chair for seven of those nine years. "There can be no question that Dr. Waldner is an accomplished scholar," he said, noting that during that time she co-wrote a book and six book chapters, four of which were co-written. In addition during that time she published five peer-reviewed, co-wrote journal articles, including two with student co-authors. She also has published several invited essays related to teaching and curriculum development.

In addition to her scholarly work, Langan considers Waldner an exceptional teacher. "Her specialty is teaching two required courses for sociology majors ... quantitatively based courses that are not ones to which many sociology majors look forward. It takes a special faculty member to teach them successfully," he said. "Dr. Waldner has been very successful.

"I believe Lisa Waldner is a superior teacher and scholar who is more than deserving of the Ireland Award."

Gregory Sisk

Gregory Sisk

Gregory Sisk

Sisk received his B.A. from Montana State University and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law. Prior to joining the legal academy, he served as a legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, as a law clerk to a U.S. Court of Appeals judge and as an appellate attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice representing the United States in the courts of appeals and the Supreme Court. Subsequent to his government service, he was in private practice as the head of the appellate department of a Seattle law firm.

He joined the University of St. Thomas law faculty in 2003, after teaching for 12 years at the Drake University Law School, where he had been named as the Richard M. & Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor.

Sisk is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of litigation with the federal government and the empirical analysis of judicial decision-making. He is the author of both the leading treatise and casebook on litigation with the federal government, and his scholarship has been published by the top law journals, including Michigan Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Northwestern Law Review and NYU Law Review, among others. In the past five years, he has published or had placed seven articles in the top 25 law reviews in the country and another four articles in top 50 law reviews (out of nearly 1,000 law reviews). Beyond those 11 articles in top 25 and top 50 journals, he has published seven other major articles during that time period, along with supplements to two treatises and three shorter law periodical pieces.

In addition to his scholarly work, Sisk is a star in the classroom, according to School of Law Dean Robert Vischer.

"Beyond his mastery of the subject matter, Greg invests his time getting to know his students, taking all his first-year students to lunch in small groups over the course of the semester," said Vischer, noting that although Sisk teaches large required courses, he regularly receives IDEA scores near 5.0.

"Greg has integrated his research in to the student experience, heavily utilizing research assistants and bringing his scholarly insights into the classroom," said Vischer. "I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for an award created to celebrate excellence and the unified vocation of teacher-scholar."

 John Ireland Presidential Award recipients