Four professors receive annual faculty awards

Monday, March 13, 2017 - 10:30am
Dean of Faculty Jon Western (far left) and Acting President Sonya Stephens (far right) present the Faculty Awards to (from left) Douglas Amy and Kavita Khory (politics), Peter Scotto (Russian) and Michael Davis (art history).

By Alheri Egor-Egbe ’17 

The Mount Holyoke College Faculty Awards, which celebrate excellence in teaching and scholarship, were awarded to four professors at a ceremony on March 2. 

The Meribeth E. Cameron Award for Scholarship was awarded to Douglas J. Amy, professor of politics and Michael T. Davis, professor of art history and chair of architectural studies. 

The Mount Holyoke College Faculty Award for Teaching was given to Kavita Khory ’84, professor and chair of both the politics and international relations departments and Peter J. Scotto, professor and chair of the Russian and Eurasian studies department. 

“The faculty awards ceremony is a great opportunity for the community to gather to reflect upon and celebrate our core teaching and scholarly mission,” said Jon Western, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “These four are outstanding scholars and teachers and I am proud to be their colleague.” 

The faculty awards include a citation and a small cash prize. The teaching awards were funded by an anonymous donor. The scholarship awards were endowed by former trustee Janet Hickey Tague ’66 in honor of Meribeth E. Cameron, a professor of history who also held several administrative positions. 

Kavita Khory 

Khory described herself as “absolutely stunned” when Acting President Sonya Stephens called to let her know she had won a teaching award. 

“I got the call at 7 p.m. while I was still in my office,” said Khory, who came to Mount Holyoke in 1990. “It was the perfect antidote to a long, tiring day.” 

She credits the College’s diverse population as a key factor in her successes as both a teacher and a researcher. 

“With smart and ambitious students from 47 states and 57 countries, Mount Holyoke's global and diverse student body makes us quite distinctive,” Khory said. “It is the ideal place to teach international politics. It’s especially exciting when faculty and students with different educational backgrounds and disciplinary training come together to teach and learn from each other — that's what makes a liberal arts college like Mount Holyoke so special.”

Khory is known for her ability to transform a classroom into a collaborative and encouraging space, and for her mastery at leading discussions. Her students describe both what they learn and how they learn in her classes as “mind-blowing,” “challenging” and “eye-opening.” 

An expert on United States policy in Pakistan and throughout South Asia, her scholarship also includes nationalism, migration, diaspora, insurgency and security in South Asia as well as diasporic communities in Europe and the U.S. 

Peter J. Scotto 

“To take a class with Peter is to see a whole world open up,” reads Scotto’s award citation. 

Scotto, whose research interest is 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature, came to Mount Holyoke in 1984. He is known for his “legendary tangents” in the classroom. One of his students described his teaching as an amalgam of “philosophy, sociology, anthropology, classical / gothic / contemporary / psychologically-real / fantastically-real literature and political thought. I think the only classes that were not connected in the text were math and science, but an argument could be made even for the latter.” 

Scotto’s expertise is also recognized by his peers outside of Mount Holyoke. In 2015 he received the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Language’s award for best literary translation in English for the book he co-authored with Anthony Anemone, “‘I am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary:’ The Notebooks, Diaries and Letters of Daniil Kharms.” 

Michael T. Davis 

Founder of the College’s very popular architectural studies program, Davis came to Mount Holyoke in 1982. His award recognizes his innovative research, which combines computer graphics for geometrical study and visualization of medieval architecture. 

Davis is a pioneer of using digital programs to recreate medieval Parisian and French cathedrals. He draws on his vast knowledge of medieval architecture and combines it with modern surveying methods to reveal previously hidden and religiously significant design elements and architectural plans. 

“He is a clear example of what happens when research excellence empowers informed, effective, and (in his case) truly inspirational teaching,” reads his award citation. 

Davis credits Mount Holyoke for his exploration of the history of medieval architecture. 

“The direction and substance of my research have been touched deeply by the friends and colleagues with whom I have spent the past 35 years,” he said. “I have learned digital representation at the facilities management office and LITS, have entered an interdisciplinary world through the medieval studies program, and have been inspired by my colleagues in art history to look more acutely, to think more creatively and to write more vividly.” 

Douglas J. Amy 

A leading expert on electoral voting systems, proportional representation, redistricting and third-party candidates, Amy seeks to demonstrate the immense usefulness of government through his extensive research. 

His writing on the subject includes “Real Choices, New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy,” which won the George H. Hallett Award from the American Political Science Association. 

Amy practices his own good citizenship and uses a variety of methods, including litigation and reaching out to the media, to communicate and test his ideas. Before writing his latest book, “Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution,” he created a popular website of the same name to explain and talk about his ideas. 

“If you read nothing else of his,” says Amy’s award citation of the book, “read his account of the role government plays in just a single day of our lives.”

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