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Date: Nov 24, 2008
Michael D’Innocenzo Named Distinguished Teacher by American Historical Association
History professor for 48 years and Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – The American Historical Association has named long-time Hofstra Professor of History Michael D'Innocenzo the winner of its 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award will be presented at the association’s annual convention in New York City on January 3, 2009.
Established in 1986, the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching and advocacy for history teaching at colleges and universities. The award is named for the late Eugene Asher, for many years a leading advocate for history teaching. The Society for History Education shares with the AHA the sponsorship of the award, which is intended for inspiring teachers whose techniques and mastery of subject matter made a real difference to students of history.
"It is a great honor for me to receive the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Historical Association," said Professor D'Innocenzo, the Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change at Hofstra. "All of the courses I have developed over my 48 years at Hofstra, as well as the extensive programs I have created in dozens of public libraries and for community organizations, relate to Jefferson’s theme of fostering informed civic engagement. I always strive to assist people of all ages to develop perspectives from history so that they can avoid becoming prisoners of the present.
"As the most senior and oldest member of the history faculty, it is still a privilege and a pleasure for me to teach beginning freshmen. To my continued delight - and, in some ways, to my surprise - my relationships with young students remain warm and vigorously interactive. My
teaching and community goals have evolved over time, and I am happy to say that a major aspect of both is to foster deeper intergenerational associations, especially to encourage people across the age divide to think about civic engagement and their roles and responsibilities as citizens."
"Michael D'Innocenzo was an outstanding teacher when he started at Hofstra and now, almost five decades later, he is still an outstanding teacher,” said Herman Berliner, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hofstra. "He inspires his students and is a role model for faculty. Hofstra University is fortunate to have him on the faculty."
Professor D'Innocenzo has been a tireless advocate for student civic engagement and for decades has secured grants from foundations and institutes that led to student internships and various projects and forums at Hofstra. These groups include the Kettering Foundation, National Issues Forum Institute and the Herman Goldman Foundation. Among the grants he has received are a National Issues Forums Institute grant to the Hofstra Center for Civic Engagement to develop "wealth gap"” research for a national issues forum book (2007-08); Herman Goldman Foundation grant to support the Gandhi, King, Ikeda exhibit at Hofstra in 2007 and the establishment of the Hofstra Center for Civic Engagement (2007); Herman Goldman Foundation Grants for Leadership Projects for high school and college students (2002-2007); and research grants from the Kettering Foundation: Confronting Terrorism after 9/11 and Immigration and Ethnicity (2002-2006). He is the recipient of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Justice Award (2007, an honorary Hofstra alumnus and a former Hofstra Distinguished Teacher of the Year.
He launched the Hofstra Public Policy Institute in 1993 with Kettering Foundation support, and in 2007 helped found and is the chair of the board of directors for Hofstra's Center for Civic Engagement, an interdisciplinary academic institute founded to encourage students to become active and informed citizens. He has also worked closely with alumni, including former student Thomas DiNapoli '76, now the state comptroller.
Professor D'Innocenzo received his BA from Union College and his master’s degree from Columbia University.
Among his articles are "From Youth Ghettos to Intergenerational Civic Engagement: Connecting the Campus and the Larger Community," in Deliberation and the Work of Higher Education: Innovations for the Classroom, the Campus and the Community (Kettering Foundation 2008); "The 1920s: The Prime Time of Babe Ruth" a chapter in the book "Baseball and the 'Sultan of Swat': Babe Ruth at 100" (AMS Press 2008) published this month; "Toward 9/11: Confronting Terrorism From Clinton to Bush," paper delivered at November 2005 Clinton presidential conference, under consideration for publication (2009); "Martin Luther King, Harry H. Wachtel and the 'Triple Evils,' Uncovering Big Ideas in Lesser Known Documents" (with Professor Andrea S. Libresco) consideration for publication in Social Education (2008); "Work Still to be Done on the Evils King Saw," (Newsday, August 16, 2005).
The American Historical Association has about 15,000 members nationwide. It was founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 to for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts, and the dissemination of historical research. As the largest historical society in the United States, the AHA provides leadership and advocacy for the profession, fights to ensure academic freedom, monitors professional standards, spearheads essential research in the field, and provides resources and services to help its members succeed.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 140 undergraduate and 155 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 22 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence.