Seven faculty members named inaugural McClure Professors

The Maxwell School has named seven current faculty members as the inaugural Robert D. McClure Professors of Teaching Excellence.  The three-year designation recognizes members of the faculty who have demonstrated skill and dedication as teachers at the School, with a special emphasis on participation in lower-division, team-taught, interdisciplinary courses. 

All seven of the inaugural McClure Professors teach in the MAX Courses, Maxwell’s signature, undergraduate cross-disciplinary courses exploring notions of citizenship and democracy through the examination of current public affairs. The seven McClure Professors are:

Peter Castro, associate professor of anthropology, a cultural anthropologist whose specialties include development planning and policy, environmental conflicts, natural resource management, and climate change;

Craige B. Champion, associate professor of history, who studies the politics of ancient Greece and Rome;

Matthew R. Cleary, associate professor of political science, who studies elections, democratization, democratic theory, and ethnic politics, with a geographical focus on Latin America;

Donald Dutkowsky, professor of economics, whose specialties include macroeconomic, monetary theory and policy, and economics education;

Miriam Elman, associate professor of political science, whose interests in international and national security are largely focused on Middle East issues;

Prema Kurien, professor of sociology, who studies immigrants and immigration, as well as religion and ethnicity; and

John Western, professor of geography, whose interest in social, cultural, and urban geography includes a particular focus on Southern Africa and Europe.

The McClure Professors Endowed Fund was created by John L. and Stephanie G. Palmer, with additional lead gifts from Maxwell School Advisory Board Members Samuel Goekjian, Cathy Daicoff, and John Chapple as well as other generous board members, alumni and friends of the School. 

“Bob was an exceptional teacher himself. But more importantly, he was a tireless and passionate advocate for undergraduate teaching excellence during our 14 years together in the Dean’s Office,” says University Professor and Dean Emeritus John Palmer, under whose deanship McClure served as senior associate dean.  During this time, the two secured a $4-million grant that supported a range of innovative undergraduate teaching initiatives, among them the creation of the MAX Courses.

Soon after he and Palmer left the dean’s office, in 2003, McClure returned to the classroom and taught in the MAX Courses. In 2006, McClure was named the inaugural Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy, overseeing the entire MAX Courses program. He retired as Chapple Chair in 2010 and from the active political science teaching faculty in 2014. 

By that time, he had taught at Maxwell 45 years and served, for three years, as director of the Syracuse University Honors Program. He is known to generations of Maxwell students as a lively, passionate, and challenging professor of not only political science but also critical thinking, who worked to foster in his students a capacity for “intelligent patriotism” (a term he borrowed from Maxwell School founding donor George Maxwell). 

Noting the exceptional caliber of the award’s first honorees, McClure says, “The inaugural list of recipients for this award represents the highest level of teaching accomplishment, and I know those on it will continue Maxwell's nearly century-old commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and dedication to interdisciplinary citizenship education.”

He adds, "I am honored by the enormous generosity of friends and former students who have chosen to support the craft of teaching and the future of the Maxwell Courses in my name. My deeply-felt thanks to all.”