Professor Straayer receives College’s John N. Stern Distinghuished Professor AwardImage of

Professor Straayer receives College’s John N. Stern Distinghuished Professor Award

Dr. John Straayer recently received the College of Liberal Arts’ John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award.  The Stern Award is the college’s highest honor, and recognizes exemplary contributions of faculty in teaching, mentoring, advising, scholarship/creativity and professional and community service. That same day Professor Straayer was also  honored by the Colorado General Assembly (see the story at  http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2012/04/19/house-republicans-honor-longtime-csu-professor-john-straayer/68349/).

John Straayer is now completing his 44th year as a CSU professor the Department of Political Science.  He arrived on campus in 1967, having finished his doctoral degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson, specializing in the field of state and local government.  From the beginning, John Straayer was and continues to be deeply committed to the idea of the university as a foundation of public well-being.  He exemplifies the ideal of the scholar-teacher-civic servant, and is deeply committed to the ideals of academic freedom and shared governance as a foundation of a university’s excellence and the advancement of civil society in America.  John’s passionate belief in these virtues undergirds his long and dedicated involvement in college and university governance and contributions to the Fort Collins community.

Throughout his career, John has always put students first. Many years ago, early in his career, Straayer partnered with colleague and political science professor Susan Furniss to establish the department’s internship program at the Colorado General Assembly.   After a few years, with Susan’s retirement, it fell to Straayer to run the program.   This he has done since 1980 at an outstanding level, building it into the premier internship program at the General Assembly today.   John’s efforts in this area are commendable and would be commendable if only considered for the substantial blocks of time required.  In order to insure a high quality experience, he has faithfully accompanied his students to Denver twice a week, all day, during the spring semester.   But John has done more.  He actively monitors each intern’s contact with their assigned legislator and makes sure students are not treated as mere gophers.   To insure a quality academic experience, each intern is enrolled in Straayer’s POLS 304, Legislative Politics, during the semester, with ample opportunity to critically discuss their experience at the state legislature and incorporate their learning in research papers and other assignments.   The internship program is highly praised by students and by legislators across the partisan aisle and is a high profile advertisement for the university during every legislative session.

In sum, few professors so well exemplify the various pathways of excellence that distinguish the very best, the scholars that are not only exemplars of rigorous research and scholarship in their chosen fields but are also leaders and mentors to the many other professionals with whom they serve and even more importantly, to their students.