Pitt Education faculty members Gina Garcia (L) and Shannon Wanless (R).
Two faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education were awarded 2022 Chancellor’s Distinguished Awards. Shannon Wanless, associate professor and director of the Office of Child Development, received the Public Service Award and associate professor Gina Garcia received the Distinguished Research Award in the junior category.
Every year, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher recognizes faculty and staff members at the University of Pittsburgh for their exemplary contributions and work in innovation and diversity. Each recipient receives a personal letter from Chancellor Gallagher, a $2,000 cash prize, and a $3,000 grant to support their work. The awardees will be recognized at the Faculty Honors Convocation on April 1, 2022.
“It feels wonderful to be recognized for work that is so meaningful to me,” says Wanless. “I feel proud to work at an institution that truly values public service. The university thrives when the community thrives.”
Wanless is one of four Pitt faculty members to receive the Public Service Award. As the director of the Office of Child Development, she is committed to creating community-focused programs that improve the lives of children, youth, and families throughout the Pittsburgh region. Through her work with the OCD, Wanless oversees collaborations in research, practice, and policy that are designed to respond to the challenges facing children and families in equitable ways.
“Being the director of the Office of Child Development is truly an honor,” says Wanless. “Our center has been engaged in public service, program development, and research for children and families for over 35 years. Now, I am having an opportunity to be part of this history and lead us into a new chapter where we bring a social justice approach to all that we do.”
Garcia also brings a social justice approach to her work. A leading scholar on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), her research focuses on how higher education can better serve Latinx populations. Her work, which has been featured in multiple national publications, centers on issues of equity and justice in higher education.
“My research is critical, but it provides a practical framework for educators and decision makers at HSIs to think about organizational transformation as the college demographics continue to shift,” explained Garcia. “We know that all colleges and universities, not just HSIs, need tools for providing students of color with an educational experience that not only advances their knowledge, job prospects, and economic mobility, but also allows them to be critical of social issues facing people of color and provides them the tools for serving marginalized communities and people once they graduate.”
Garcia is one of three Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award recipients in the junior category, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated great potential as scholars.
“To receive this award is an extreme honor and one of the most important recognitions I have received to date,” says Garcia. “It means that the University and my campus colleagues recognize the important research that is coming out of the School of Education, which is my home here at Pitt and the School I represent. It also brings greater recognition to equity and justice issues for Latinxs and Hispanics in education.”
In the Pitt School of Education, Shannon Wanless is an associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Development and Gina Garcia is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy. The programs are now accepting applications.