Four faculty members in the School of Arts and Sciences were awarded major teaching and mentoring prizes at the end of the spring semester. Richard Gaskins, Proskauer Chair in Law and Social Welfare and Professor of American Studies, was awarded the 2011 Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer ’69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. The prize goes to an exceptional teacher who has also had a significant impact on students’ lives as a mentor, adviser and friend. Tory Fair, assistant professor of sculpture and a widely exhibited artist, was named the 29th recipient of the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching. The award is given to a tenure-track Brandeis faculty member who combines superlative scholarship with inspired teaching. The 25th Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Eileen McNamara, professor of the practice of journalism. A Pulitzer Prize winner, McNamara was a reporter and columnist at The Boston Globe, covering Congress, the State House and such topics as domestic violence and juvenile crime, before joining the Brandeis faculty in 1995. Historian Michael Willrich, recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mentoring of Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, came to Brandeis in 1999. An expert on the Progressive Era and legal history, he is the author of a new book, “Pox: An American History,” published in April.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Janet McIntosh won the 2010 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion for her book “The Edge of Islam: Power, Personhood and Ethnoreligious Boundaries on the Kenya Coast” (Duke University Press, 2009). Anthropologists have called the book “a work of the highest order … methodologically innovative, provocative, and timely,” and “written in elegant but straightforward prose.”

The harrowing story of a young woman’s flight from female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone to the United States, where she suffered fresh injustices, was published in Ladies Home Journal, garnering its author, Jan Goodwin, senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a 2010 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Winners are selected for “tireless reporting, vivid writing and cleareyed focus on the American ideal of justice for all.”

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) announced that Jonathan Sarna, Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, is the recipient of its 2011 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. According to AAR, “The award goes to those whose work has a relevance and eloquence that speak not just to scholars, but more broadly to the public as well.”