The Oregon State University Honors College has named Eliza Barstow, a history and religious studies senior instructor in the School of History, Philosophy and Religion, as the 2023 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Professor and Christopher Stout, an associate professor of political science in the School of Public Policy, as the 2023 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor.
“These awards recognize the dedication and contributions of two of the Honors College’s most committed faculty partners,” says Honors College Associate Dean Susan Rodgers. “Drs. Barstow and Stout have gone above and beyond in their service to honors students, and they set a model for how much our community benefits from working with faculty from across the university.”
A panel of distinguished Honors College instructors and mentors select the eminent professor and mentor each year. These awards are supported by contributions from the Margaret and Thomas Meehan Estate.
Dr. Eliza Young Barstow is a senior instructor in religious studies and has taught in the School of History, Philosophy and Religion since 2016. Beginning in the fall, she will be serving as the associate director of religious studies. She has developed several Honors College colloquia courses, including Race, White Supremacy and the State of Oregon; the Handmaid’s Tale; and American Religious Diversity. She has also served as a thesis mentor and committee member for multiple honors students.
Barstow is currently working on public history projects in Corvallis, such as assisting the superintendent of the Corvallis School District with efforts to rename some of the city’s schools. She is also a faculty senator and serves as the chair of the Honors College Council. In 2021, she won the Isabelle Brock Memorial Outstanding Instructor Award for her exceptional contributions to the College of Liberal Arts, and in summer 2022, she received a teaching innovation fellowship from the Oregon State University Center for the Humanities, which supported her efforts to design a survey-level course on new religions and religious movements.
“I was delighted to learn that the Honors College had selected me for the award,” she said upon learning the news. “Working with Honors College students and administrators is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It’s delightful to know that there are other people out there who appreciate my work.”
Barstow has a special connection to honors colleges—she was in one herself. Barstow was in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University. The small, academically focused community within a larger university was instrumental to her success, and she hoped to have the chance to give back and work with a similar program someday. At Oregon State, she appreciates how the Honors College encourages professors to create innovative colloquia courses, which has allowed her to develop and teach classes that span multiple disciplines. She has also enjoyed serving on thesis committees, as many alumni have cited their honors thesis as one of the best parts of their undergraduate experience, and she is proud to have played a role in that process.
Dr. Christopher T. Stout first joined Oregon State University’s School of Public Policy in 2015 and is currently an associate professor of political science. His research interests include racial and ethnic politics, gender and politics, political behavior, representation, and Congress. He is the author of two books, Bringing Race Back In: Black Politicians, Deracialization, and Voting Behavior in the Age of Obama and The Case for Identity Politics: Polarization, Demographic Change, and Racial Appeals.
Over the course of eight years, he has mentored nine Honors College student thesis projects and served on 14 thesis committees. “I felt extremely honored and grateful to be nominated and receive this award.” He says, “I thought back to all the wonderful students that I had the opportunity to work with during my time at Oregon State University. I thought about how proud I was to see each of them produce groundbreaking research in the social sciences which answered pressing questions about contemporary politics. I feel lucky to have crossed paths with so many great honors students.”
Stout credits his former mentors for inspiring his work mentoring honors students, saying, “Knowing the significance of good mentorship inspires me to work with honors students. The students that we work with go on to do amazing things, and by modeling good mentorship, they too will be better able to help the next generation succeed.” He enjoys watching students learn and embrace the research process. But most importantly, Stout loves how he learns from his students, saying, “I am a better teacher and scholar because of the conversations that my students and I have and the research that we collaborate on.”
“Congratulations to Eliza and Chris,” says Rodgers. “They represent the best of the Honors College community and I am proud to recognize their dedication to our mission of inclusive teaching and mentoring excellence.”
By Kate McHugh, Public Information Representative