Max Stephenson Jr., professor of public and international affairs and director of the Institute for Policy and Governance, has received the Graduate School’s 2018 Faculty Outstanding Mentor Award for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Sponsored by the Graduate School, the annual award recognizes excellence in mentoring graduate students. Students nominate recipients, and one professor from each college receives an award.

Stephenson’s current research and teaching interests include collaborative governance, leadership and democratic politics, arts and community change processes, NGOs and international development, peace building, and humanitarian relief.  He is the author or editor of several books and more than 60 refereed articles and book chapters. He has served on or chaired committees for more than 190 graduate students during his 29-year career at Virginia Tech. He previously received the Excellence in Scholarship award from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought program.

Past and current students described Stephenson’s mentorship as a combination of high standards, patience, empathy, respect, and passion for providing support and guidance. Former student Scott Tate said, “I regularly encounter former students of Max, who uniformly praise his character, his support, his accessibility, and his encouragement.”

Students also said they found collegiality, support, and academic challenge in the interdisciplinary Community Voices group, now the Community Change Collaborative, housed at IPG. In addition to his efforts to help their research, students praised his editing and teaching, and several said he served as a role model for them. Alumna D'Elia Chandler said, "I think his greatest reward is seeing his students grasp complex topics, discuss and solve problems together, and succeed in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue."

Stephenson earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia.