“Dr. Downing is known internationally for his contributions to the fields of English and literary and cultural studies. We are proud to have him join the ranks of our Distinguished University Professors, who remain active scholars and teachers.” IUP President Michael Driscoll said.
Each year, the President's Office recognizes one faculty member with the Distinguished University Professor Award, choosing from a field of many exemplary faculty in an extremely competitive process.
The honored faculty member must hold the rank of full professor; hold a doctorate or other terminal degree; possess a record of outstanding teaching, quality research/scholarly activities, and university service; and show active and demonstrable engagement in research/scholarly activity that advances his or her discipline or its pedagogy.
The Distinguished University Professor Award, established in 1988, brings recipients a grant and reduced teaching load for one year to allow them to dedicate more time to research/scholarship, as well as other benefits.
A professor of English, Downing is known for his
work on important topical issues such as academic freedom; intellectual
property; affirmative action; the privatization of public higher education; the
history of criticism and theory; critical pedagogy; integrating the liberal
arts and professional education; the academic labor movement; and the role of
the humanities. He also is the founding editor of “Works and Days,” a
distinguished academic journal with an international subscription list.
“First of all, I am tremendously grateful for this honor,”
Dr. Downing said. “IUP has been a wonderful place for me in large part because I
work in a collaborative environment with the support of so many fine students, colleagues,
“IUP has also given me a great deal of academic freedom to
pursue my interests in both teaching and scholarship. That is not the case for
so many higher education faculty today who are not protected, as we are, by
strong collective bargaining agreements.”
Downing joined the IUP community in 1988. He is the director
of graduate studies in literature and criticism in the Department of English.
He is the author or editor of six books. Two of those books
were published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the main
national organization in his field.
He has published more than 65 essays, book chapters, and
review articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has been invited to speak at
local, national, and international forums and universities. He has received
numerous grants and awards, both locally and nationally, and his scholarship is
referenced in many publications, including in the “New York Times” (March,
2009; December 2010) and in interviews by such national publications as “InsideHigherEd,”
and in a radio talk show broadcast on many stations.
Downing’s research also extends to the divisions between the
sub-disciplines of composition, creative writing, and literature, and impacts
the ways universities organize the curriculum, the classroom, and the academic
workplace. All of Downing’s research and teaching has been motivated by the
need to create and sustain just working and learning conditions for faculty and
students in higher education.
“Works and Days” has been widely cited in many other
sources, both online and print, including both “The New York Times” and “The
Chronicle of Higher Education.” The journal has an international subscription
list. Over the past 30 years running this journal, Downing has edited and
published some of the most innovative, cutting-edge scholarship in cultural
studies and critical pedagogy. Five of
the “Works and Days” volumes have subsequently been revised and published as
notable books by university and commercial presses.
He has been nominated to the governing bodies in national
organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American
Association of University Professors (AAUP). In 2010, he was nominated and
elected to the MLA Delegate Assembly, the main leadership organization for the
Modern Language Association; and to the MLA Committee for Academic Freedom and
Professional Rights and Responsibilities.
In addition, Downing has served in leadership positions in
national organizations such as on the Board of Directors for the Society for
Critical Exchange and as a Steering Committee Member of the well-known GRIP
Project (Group for Research in the Institutionalization and Professionalization
of Literary Studies). He has often been asked to review books for notable
academic presses; he has also been asked to do outside tenure reviews at other
universities and, in 2010, was asked by the Pennsylvania Department of
Education to serve as an outside evaluator for two new proposed M.A. programs
at LaSalle University.
At IUP, Downing has served on every one of the main English
Department committees (search, tenure, promotion) and all of the standing
committees in the Graduate Studies in Literature and Criticism Program. He has also
served on three university-wide committees, including the University Wide
During his tenure as Distinguished University Professor, Downing
plans to work on two primary scholarly projects: he will design, produce, and
implement an interactive, multimedia website to serve as a companion to his
most recent book, “Just Theory: An Alternative History of the Western Tradition;”
and will work on completing his next book, “University Uprising: A Diorama of
Social Crises in Higher Education, 1798-2018.”
He received his Ph.D. from the State University at Buffalo.
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