L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Wilder School Faculty & Staff Awards

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 Faculty & Staff Awardees!
Congratulations to our 2019-2020 Faculty & Staff Awardees!

May 5, 2020

This year, the Wilder School recognizes and celebrates faculty and staff members who have triumphed through unprecedented times to deliver our students the highest-quality teaching, scholarship and support services as well as displayed commitment to academic excellence and phenomenal work within our community and beyond.

Our 2019-2020 Wilder School faculty award recipients and our inaugural staff awardees are:

  • Excellence in Scholarship AwardChris Whyte, Ph.D., assistant professor of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

Chris Whyte has published five peer-reviewed articles—three of which were sole-authored—two forthcoming articles, and two books including the Routledge volume “Information Warfare in the Age of Cyber Conflict”—on which he served as lead editor and first author—all in the past 12 months. He is also the co-author of “Understanding Cyber Warfare: Politics, Policy and Strategy” published with Brian Manzanec in December 2018. His latest book, “Information at War: Military Organization, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power,” is currently under contract with Georgetown Press.

Chris’ body of research on the critically important topic of the vulnerabilities posed by technologically based warfare is fascinating, impressive and incredibly relevant.

  • Excellence in Public Policy and Practice Award Damian Pitt, Ph.D., associate professor and program chair of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning

Damian Pitt blends research and practice to the benefit of the greater community. In 2019, he joined the Richmond School Board’s Rezoning Advisory Committee to provide critical connections between Richmond’s master planning process – Richmond 300 – and decisions about schools that would be impacted by plans for population growth. With Damian’s assistance, RPS participated in the RVA Solar Fund program and installed solar at ten RPS schools saving the district $2 MM in energy costs while giving students access to green jobs educational curriculum and real-life examples of green jobs. Additionally, he collaborated with CURA and the Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association to produce a report that garnered significant local and national news attention, as well as recognition by clean energy experts. His efforts provided support for the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which was passed in February of 2020 in both houses of the General Assembly.

Damian helps to continue a tradition long-established in the Wilder School’s planning program, of community engagement at all levels of planning and policy – including community, local government and state government.

  • Excellence in Mentorship AwardSarah Raskin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

Sarah Raskin is recognized for extraordinary mentorship and an approach that is collaborative, accountable and holistic in its appreciation for student’s roles and responsibilities outside of VCU. Her influence as “a great mentor” wrote her nominator, is “rooted in treating students with the utmost respect, being their advocate; never failing to give them their due; and fulfilling all of these duties with consistency, empathy and always with professionalism.”

Sarah, whose community-engaged scholarship has garnered national attention, was also saluted for her “commitment to enriching mentees knowledge-base by situating knowledge gained in the classroom in the broader community context, thus enhancing her impact and the impact of her students’ efforts on society.”

Randy Barrack has been engaging, teaching and inspiring students within the Wilder School’s MPA program for 14 years. Randy is an accomplished author, educator and lobbyist with nearly 40 years of nonprofit experience whose courses in administrative law, public policy analysis and nonprofit management are among the program’s most popular. Among the many welcoming faces at the Wilder School, Randy has become a fixture in the School’s commencement program and a sought-after resource for dissertation committees, references and introductions.

  • Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award - Larry Prokop, Ph.D.

A former Russian linguist, cryptologist and intelligence analyst, Larry Prokop brings over 40 years of professional experience in the defense and intelligence arenas to our students. Larry teaches HSEP 320, “U.S. Intelligence Community and Processes,” a core course in the HSEP curriculum.  Additionally, on his own initiative, Larry created “Introduction to Intelligence Analysis,” a popular elective course for HSEP and CRJS students looking to pursue careers in intelligence.  Larry's commitment to the success of our students goes well beyond the classroom. He guest lectures for other courses, including HSEP 691, where he walks graduate students through an actual "cold case" while familiarizing them with structured analytical techniques. He also serves as a mentor to Eta Lambda Sigma fraternity members and meets regularly with students on his own time, in order to provide career advice and mentorship. 

  • Integrity and Professionalism Award - Ashley Harrison, assistant director of Student SuccesS

Ashley, who has been with the Wilder School’s Office of Student Success since 2016, is currently the assistant director of the unit. In her role, she works closely with the assistant dean to support student success initiatives, development programs and employer partnerships. She also represents the Wilder School on the university’s staff senate and is a dedicated professional who has generously given her time to support service in the profession as the co-chair of various university-wide counseling initiatives. Wrote her nominator, “Ashley is a highly dedicated professional, who knows how to motivate students to strive for excellence. For years, she has been among the most visible proponents of student engagement, not only in the way she encourages and guides students, but also as a supportive colleague.”

  • Service Excellence Award - Kiara Faulks, program coordinator for The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute

Kiara is a program coordinator for GEHLI where her conscientiousness and commitment to quality, have been apparent in the creation of programmatic processes that ensure program objectives are met with excellence. Kiara has been instrumental in advancing the capacity of the institute’s student workers, developing instructional materials that empower paraprofessional workers to take control of their work and gain greater independence in their development. She also took the lead on communicating with program participants during the recent health crisis, performing her duties with grace and aplomb in the absence of senior leadership. Wrote one nominator, “I absolutely love the energy and positivity that Kiara always displays. She is always eager to learn more about those around her and to help out with anything of need.”

Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients. Special thanks to the nominators, chairs and committee members who helped to make these awards possible.