Peter Wallenstein, professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received Certificates of Teaching Excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1983, Wallenstein champions undergraduate research, and he sees teaching and research as vitally related. Believing that undergraduate and graduate courses should engage the ways a discipline works, he promotes research in all his classes and encourages students to present their work at conferences and publish it.

In 1997 and 1998, when Virginia Tech marked its 125th anniversary, he taught a course on the school’s history, and for each class he compiled a collection of student research projects and placed a copy in Special Collections in University Libraries. A few years later, when he co-authored a book on T. Marshall Hahn Jr.’s presidency and Virginia Tech’s transformation from a mostly undergraduate teaching school into a big research university, he drew upon many of those essays, properly identifying the essays and crediting their authors.

In 2005, he taught a University Honors colloquium he titled “Written a Good Book Lately? Writing a History of Virginia for 2007.” 

Mark Barrow, professor and chair of the Department of History, recounts that the students “embarked on a voyage of discovery, helping materially to develop the book; it carried a title contributed by a student at the very first class meeting, Cradle of America.” The book came out in time for the 400th anniversary commemorations of 2007.

“Few other scholars could draw on their own work to produce a single-author history of Virginia across the centuries; fewer still would seek to incorporate the work of their students in such a book and properly acknowledge those contributions,” said Barrow. 

Subsequent students contributed to a second edition, published in 2014.

Wallenstein is a founding member of the Undergraduate Research Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and he currently co-chairs the Faculty Advisory Board of the university-level Office of Undergraduate Research.

He has received a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2015, the college’s Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award in 2010, and the university's Diggs Teaching Scholar Award in 2005.

Wallenstein frequently leads workshops for K–12 teachers, and he has co-authored a history of Virginia for fourth graders.

Recognized for his accomplishments in research as well as teaching, Wallenstein has won the Scholar Award in History from the Virginia Social Science Association, the Sturm Award from Phi Beta Kappa at Virginia Tech, the college’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship, and various other awards. He was a finalist in 2010 for an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Wallenstein previously taught in New York, Canada, and Asia. He earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.