Johns Hopkins Gazette | May 18, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 18, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 35
Welsh to Receive Max M. Fisher Prize at SAIS

Award to Bridget Welsh recognizes excellence in teaching

By Felisa Klubes Neuringer

Bridget Welsh, associate professor of Southeast Asia studies at SAIS, will receive the 2009 Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching at the school's commencement ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 21.

Welsh, who joined the SAIS faculty in fall 2001, has taught graduate courses on political conflict, democracy, human rights, development, gender, comparative politics and Southeast Asian politics. Her primary research interests focus on contemporary Southeast Asian politics, with special emphasis on Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar/Burma and Indonesia.

With three single-authored books forthcoming, Welsh has two additional projects working, on mob/vigilante violence in Indonesia and campaign strategies of Islamic parties in Southeast Asia. Her awards include the Henry R. Luce Southeast Asian Fellowship at the Australian National University and a United States Institute of Peace grant to examine political support for Islamic parties in Southeast Asia. She is research director for Malaysia for the Asian Barometer Project, a consultant to Freedom House and a strong advocate for democracy and gender rights.

In nominating her for the teaching award, one of Welsh's students wrote: "Professor Welsh is wholeheartedly dedicated to the education and personal growth of each of her students. She taught five courses at SAIS this year and actively published in academic and media journals, demonstrating not only her depth and breadth of knowledge but also the rich blend of a true academic-practitioner. She is an asset to SAIS."

Another student wrote, "Professor Welsh has been an outstanding teacher, firmly committed to her students in every way possible. Her seminars are stimulating and she makes a personal effort to get to know each student. She even goes out of her way to have her classes over to her house for dinner. One would be hard-pressed to find a more ideal mentor."

A graduate of Colgate University, Welsh received her doctorate from the Department of Political Science at Columbia University.

Having completed her eight-year faculty appointment at SAIS, Welsh will be departing this summer to become an associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University.

The Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching was established in 2007 by the family of Max Fisher as a tribute to his life and his abiding interest in international affairs. Former chairman of Aurora Gasoline, Fisher was a dedicated advocate for the Jewish community and for his hometown of Detroit. He served as an adviser to Republican presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush and as an unofficial ambassador between the United States and Israel in Middle Eastern affairs. His daughter, Marjorie Fisher, is a trustee of The Johns Hopkins University. The Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching is presented at commencement each year to one professor selected by the students of SAIS.

One of the stipulations of the Fisher Prize is for the recipient to give a public lecture at SAIS on a topic of his or her choosing. For Welsh, this turned out to be a bittersweet assignment as her Fisher Prize lecture also served as her last SAIS lecture. On May 6, Welsh was welcomed to an auditorium of more than 100 students, faculty, staff and friends as she gave an impassioned speech about "Engagement, Empowerment and Employment: Building Democracy in Southeast Asia."


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