Professor of Communication Studies Richard West has been named recipient of the 2013 Norman and Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award.
West said he is putting funds from the award toward his research project, which examines the relationships between U.S. public school systems and same-sex parents.
“For the first time in the field of communication, we’re having a candid discussion about what is often referred to as a marginalized family type,” said West, of the Communication Studies Department. “Still, this family configuration is fast becoming mainstream.”
West will conduct research interviews in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage; Maine, one of the first three states where voters legalized same-sex marriage; Wisconsin, which has a limited same-sex domestic partnership law; and Illinois, where same-sex marriage was legalized last month.
As part of his research, West will interview principals and superintendents of various school districts as well as same-sex parents to determine the various levels of social support in the schools.
West said his work is expected to be included in an academic anthology, and will be submitted to both the National Communication Association annual convention and the National Parent Teacher Association convention.
The Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award is presented annually to a full-time faculty member at Emerson in recognition of outstanding scholarly or creative achievement with a stipend of $3,000. Thanks to a generous endowment from Irma Mann Stearns ’67, a former Emerson Board Chair and Trustee Emerita, and her late husband, Dr. Norman Stearns, the recipient may use funds to enhance an ongoing project or develop a new scholarly or creative endeavor. Travel is strongly encouraged as part of the project.