Three Recognized for Research, Teaching Excellence

May 5, 2023

During the 2023 Commencement celebrations, three members of the St. John Fisher University faculty will be honored with the University’s most prestigious scholarship and teaching honors.

Stephen Brauer, Terence Gipson, Jeff Wallis

Dr. Stephen Brauer, associate professor and chair of the English Department in the School of Arts and Sciences, will receive the Trustees’ Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement. The Award for Teaching Excellence at the undergraduate level will be given to Dr. Terence Gipson, assistant professor of public health, while Dr. W. Jeff Wallis, an instructor in the Executive Leadership Doctoral Program, will be given the Award for Teaching Excellence at the graduate level.

The Trustees’ Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement is the highest honor that the Board of Trustees can bestow on a faculty member, second only to an honorary degree. It is given to full-time faculty members in recognition of outstanding scholarly work, ranging from writing books and articles, to presenting papers at professional conferences.

Brauer arrived at Fisher in 1999 after having received his Ph.D. in English that year from New York University. He teaches courses focused on American literature and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

His monograph, Criminality and the Modern: Contingency and Agency in Twentieth-Century America, published in 2022 by Lexington Books, examines how the emergence of the social sciences in the 19th century influenced academics, researchers, and the general public in their thoughts and discussion surrounding criminal behavior. He focuses on the concepts of contingency and agency to explore the figure of the criminal and American 20th-century culture. In the year since its publication, the book has been purchased for inclusion in over 20 major university libraries including Princeton, Yale, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan, among others.

In addition to his latest book, Brauer has published articles in American Literature, American Quarterly, American Studies Journal, InVisible Culture, The Fitzgerald Review, and other journals, along with chapters in several collected scholarly editions. His 2003 article titled “The Prohibition Gangster as Businessman” (which focused on The Great Gatsby and its cultural contexts) continues to be cited by other scholars nationally.

As chair of the English Department, Brauer has contributed greatly to the campus community through his leadership and oversight of the annual Fr. John Cavanaugh, CSB Lecture, and as the main organizer of the Annual Teach-In events at Fisher. 

In 2019, Brauer presented a paper, “Reviving the Teach-In as a Site of Social Engagement: Education, History, and Politics in the Present Moment,” at the academic conference, The Uses and Abuses of History in the Trump Era. That same year, he served as chair and commentator of a panel on “Social Movements and the ‘Crime’ Problem” at the American Studies Association, the leading international scholarly organization in the field.

In spring 2022, he presented a paper titled, “Kota Ezawa, Colin Kaepernick, and the Framing of Black Bodies in Protest,” at the North American Society for Sport History Conference. This spring he returned to that conference to present a paper on the sportswriter Grantland Rice. Both of these papers are part of his new project on sports media, technology, and American authorship. 

Brauer earned his bachelor of arts in English at Trinity College.

The Awards for Teaching Excellence are chosen by students, and are given annually to full-time faculty members for outstanding work in the classroom. Award recipients must demonstrate thorough knowledge of their subject matter, solid preparation for class, clear and effective communication, and genuine enthusiasm for their job.

As an assistant professor of public health, Gipson teaches courses related to health policy, health administration, evaluation, and program planning. Prior to coming to Fisher, he taught undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral-level courses at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Michigan State University. Outside of academia, he has also served as legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives, and development strategist and international community health specialist for Michigan State University. From 2016-2019, he was program director of Next Young Phenom Foundation, Inc., in Lansing.

He received his Ph.D. in Health Promotion Sciences from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and completed his fellowship in neurodevelopmental disabilities at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Health in Health Administration from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Gipson has led health system performance assessments and patient quality improvement evaluations for the Maternal & Child Health Bureau, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Alzheimer’s Association. His research focuses on leveraging participatory methods to improve the quality of care among patients with complex care needs and integrating health equity frameworks in care coordination.

In addition, he is currently a child welfare consultant for Sistema Nacional para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia, in Mexico City, Mexico, a city where he has conducted much of his research.

Gipson has received awards from the Oklahoma Public Health Association, Hudson College of Public Health, National Association of Community Health Workers, Campus Compact, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his service and advocacy in public health.

In letters nominating Gipson for the teaching award, several students wrote that he “goes above and beyond to help his students.” One student said he is a “role model in the community, an advocate for social justice, and often asks students how he can be better and change his courses to help them.”

“He brings something really special to the table and I think Fisher is lucky to have him,” the student added. “I know I have been lucky to have him as a professor.”

Wallis is an instructor in Fisher’s Executive Leadership program at the Iona University location. In his role, he also serves as dissertation chair, executive mentor, and field work advisor. He has been an instructor in the program since 2009.

Prior to joining Fisher, Wallis served as vice president for academics and chief academic officer for Monroe College in Bronx, New York. He also served as dean of faculty instruction and dean of the division at the institution. His K-12 education experience spans over two decades, where he worked as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist at schools in New York and Vermont. In 1980, he moved into administration serving as assistant director for Bank Street School for Children and Bank Street College of Education in New York City. He also served as assistant director of academic affairs at The Calhoun School in New York, after being in the roles of director of upper school and director of lower school. He went on to be the head of school at Village Community School in New York before being named principal at Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in English and Theater Education at the University of Utah and earned his Master of Arts in Curriculum Development and Educational Administration at the Columbia University Teachers College. Dr. Wallis pursued his Doctor of Education in Educational Administration at Seton Hall University.

Calling him a “master of his craft,” one student wrote that Wallis has a way of making complex information simple. “On more than one occasion, Dr. Wallis has helped me think through challenges with my dissertation proposal (even when I was not in his class then). As a result of my experiences in the three classes with Dr. Wallis, I am confident in my ability to conduct research and write a high-quality dissertation,” the student wrote.

Another student described him as an “invaluable mentor” who has provided the “support necessary to propel students forward and achieve their goals.”

Brauer will be honored at the Athletics Ceremony on Wednesday, May 10. Gipson will receive his award during the School of Arts and Sciences Ceremony on Friday, May 12, while Wallis will be presented with his award at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education Ceremony on Saturday, May 13.