Mason’s Andrew Peterson honored as 2021 Outstanding Faculty Award recipient

Andrew Peterson
Andrew Peterson was among the 12 honorees awarded Outstanding Faculty Awards by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Photo provided.

George Mason University’s Andrew Peterson was among the 12 educators from around the state honored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) with its 2021 Outstanding Faculty Awards. 

Peterson, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was selected as a “Rising Star” from among 72 original nominees. 

The award is the highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private institutions of higher learning, recognizing those who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service. Nominees are selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. Peterson becomes Mason’s 23rd overall selection since the award’s inception in 1987. 

“It means a great deal to me,” he said of the honor. “I come from a humble academic background. I attended state schools for the majority of my academic training, and for what I lack in intelligence, I've always tried to make up in hard work. I also grew up in the military family but took a leap of faith to pursue an academic career rather than enlisting. The SCHEV Rising Star Award gives me confidence that I chose the right path.” 

The “Rising Star” category was created in 2004 to recognize faculty with more than two complete years of full-time experience, but less than six. Beginning in 2010, two Rising Star recipients are selected annually. 

Provost and Executive Vice President Mark R. Ginsberg lauded Peterson for making a difference in the lives of Mason students. 

“He is a wonderful example of an inspiring faculty member who supports our students and helps to change their lives,” Ginsberg said. “His breadth of research also is impressive while demonstrating a solid record of engaged and transformative work. He is a dynamic and student-centered instructor and mentor, and a respected scholar—the perfect combination for an exemplar for a “Rising Star”—and well-deserved recognition by SCHEV.” 

Working in Mason’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy since 2016, Peterson has quickly established himself as an up-and-coming leader in the field of bioethics. His expertise in health-driven and evidence-based strategies could help policymakers forge a comprehensive approach to a COVID-19 vaccine strategy that benefits all Americans. 

CHSS Dean Ann Ardis credited Peterson for fostering the next generation of scholars through his innovative classes, commitment to mentoring and outstanding bioethics teaching. 

“Andrew Peterson is an outstanding scholar-teacher who represents the distinctive strengths of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Mason,” Ardis said. “His cutting-edge ethical research on brain trauma and dementia exemplifies how CHSS faculty address essential questions and provide solutions to social problems, while demonstrating the intellectual flexibility to pivot, as he has done in his recent work on the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew epitomizes the world-class research and engaged teaching and mentoring on which our college thrives.” 

Previous Outstanding Faculty Award recipients from Mason have included 2020 honoree Cynthia Lum, and Jeff Offutt and Charlotte Gill, both of whom were recognized in 2019. 

“It is immensely satisfying,” Peterson said of the recognition. “But I'm also mindful of the many other faculty members across Virginia who are deserving of recognition. This year has been exceptionally difficult for all Americans, not least university communities. I am in awe of the educators across Virginia who have raised heaven and earth to fulfill their mission in spite of the pandemic.” 

Each recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Faculty Awards will receive a $7,500 gift from Dominion Energy and will be honored at a special virtual ceremony later next year.