Max Schuster

Faculty Member Max Schuster Receives 2024 ACPA Teaching Excellence Award

Maximilian T. Schuster, a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, was honored with the 2024 American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Commission for Faculty and Graduate Programs’ Teaching Excellence Award. The award celebrates faculty members who have demonstrated an exceptional ability to inspire and shape the next generation of college student educators through their dedication to innovative teaching methods.

Schuster is an associate professor of practice and associate chair of the Pitt Education Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy. Through his commitment to fostering an inclusive and intellectually stimulating learning environment, Schuster prepares students to become equity-driven leaders in college settings.

“What I find most rewarding is fostering connections with students and seeing their excitement about transforming higher education and student affairs in more equitable and just ways,” says Schuster. 

In the classroom, Schuster is known for his interactive teaching methods, which include virtual tours of street art exhibitions and table topic talks. These methods challenge students to think critically about dominant narratives and social justice issues within higher education.

Dr. Schuster stands out as a teacher who stimulates intellectual curiosity in his students, employs cutting-edge knowledge from the field, and advances the career development of his students,” wrote Renée and Richard Goldman Interim Dean Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher in her nomination letter for the award. “It is clear that his approach to teaching fosters classroom environments that are productive, student-centered spaces that allow for fruitful dialogue and learning exchanges to occur through instruction, reflection, deliberation, celebration, and joy.”

Since joining the faculty in 2017, Schuster has risen through the ranks from visiting assistant professor to his current role. He also serves as program coordinator for the Master of Education (MEd) in Higher Education program and the school’s ombudsperson for graduate and postdoctoral students. An alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh, he earned his MEd in Higher Education Management in 2010 and his PhD in Administrative and Policy Studies in 2017.

Schuster’s research, which delves into the varied experiences of college students with minoritized identities, employs frameworks from organizational culture, campus climate, and college student identity development. He says his research informs his teaching and allows him to offer rich educational experiences that engage students in meaningful and transformative ways.

Reflecting on the significance of this award, Schuster says, “Winning this award is both humbling and deeply personal to me. It was very kind for others to recognize the efforts I take to foster an inclusive, reflective, and socially just learning environment through my teaching.”