GCSU Sociology Professor named yearlong Governor’s Teaching Fellow 

GCSU Sociology Professor named yearlong Governor’s Teaching Fellow 

Dr. Stephanie McClure, a professor of sociology at Georgia College & State University for 20 years, was recently named a Governor’s Teaching Fellow in the state’s Academic Year Symposium program. 

This selective, yearlong programs consists of monthly sessions lasting two to three days in Athens, Georgia. Unlike the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Summer Symposium, which has yearly themes, the academic year program primarily focuses on course design and redesign. 

“I was excited to hear the news. It’s an honor,” McClure said. “Many excellent colleagues have participated in the past and have shared what a rewarding experience it is. I’m really looking forward to the chance to reflect on and improve my teaching practice in a community of similarly passionate and committed peers.”

More than 600 faculty members at 45 public and private institutions have been named Governor Teaching Fellows since 1995, when the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program began under former Gov. Zell Miller. 

The outreach program is part of the University of Georgia’s Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education. It provides opportunities for faculty to develop important, innovative, up-to-date teaching skills. This often includes tech-savvy tools, so students are competitive in an ever changing global job market.

Five Georgia College faculty have been academic-year fellows since 2021.

Last year, two Georgia College faculty were named Governor Teaching Fellows in the Summer Symposium: Dr. Suzanna Roman-Oliver, assistant professor of Secondary Education, and Dr. Omolola Akinola Ologunorisa, lecturer in Geography.

McClure teaches Introductory Sociology, Social Theory and research courses in Social Stratification, Racial Stratification and Sociology of Education. 

In his letter supporting McClure’s nomination, Dr. Costas Spirou, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, wrote: “It is my pleasure to write this letter on behalf of a truly outstanding educator, scholar and humanitarian.” He noted McClure’s “excellent track record of success in the classroom.” Her innovations, research and community-based projects make her “a true leader on our campus.” 

“Dr. McClure does not teach her students about sociology,” Spirou wrote, “but rather she designs projects and assignments that allow the students to become sociologists. Dr. McClure’s classes are both immersive and engaging, as she emphasizes the importance of viewing the world, specifically the dimensions of class and racial inequities, through a sociological lens.”

McClure has penned many publications on “complex, contentious societal issues,” Spirou noted. These include classroom texts and essays that “encourage readers to think intersectionally about race” and offer a “springboard to teaching students accountability and sparking both curiosity and empathy.”

McClure enjoys teaching sociology students in study abroad programs to Waterford, Ireland, and Montepulciano, Italy. 

Her proudest moment at Georgia College was receiving the university’s Teaching Award in 2020. She was also nominated by a former student to be the 2019 Southern Regional Education Board’s Faculty Mentor of the Year. 

McClure served on the university’s Student Research Conference committee and mentors undergraduates to participate in that yearly campus event. Undergraduate research has been a “transformative experience” for all of McClure’s students, Spirou wrote. Many go on to win prestigious fellowships and be accepted into highly competitive graduate and Ph.D. programs. McClure continues to mentor these students well beyond Georgia College.

“It is clear whatever a student’s future path, Dr. McClure’s classes have indeed taught them new ways of thinking and engaging with their communities,” Spirou wrote. 

For her yearlong project in the fellows program, McClure plans to do a major overhaul of her existing introductory course, which covers half of her teaching load at Georgia College. It is also the first introduction students usually have to sociology. 

“I feel like I’ve always done it well and with good engagement and enthusiasm,” McClure said. “But after 20 years, it feels like I’ve gotten a little stuck. I’m generally more innovative in my upper-level courses, but with my intro class I’ve long taken an ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.”

“I’ve gotten great feedback from and made beautiful, genuine connections with so many former intro students, even those who’ve never take another class with me,” she said. “So this is a genuine challenge—to take a new look at what is now a classic and try to envision something even better.”

In addition to revising her introductory course, McClure is also finishing development on a new course for Spring 2025 called “Sociology of Hope.” Both Spirou and McClure value the opportunity the fellows program provides, knowing it will help shape her teaching efforts into even greater potential.

“I believe the experience of participating in the Governor’s Teaching Fellows program will uniquely position her to continue offering our students an education that promotes critical thinking and empathy,” Spirou wrote.

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Updated: 2024-07-10
Cindy O'Donnell
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