McSweeney to receive Eminent Faculty Award

Frances K. McSweeney, professor of psychology and vice provost for faculty affairs at Washington State University, has been named the winner of the 2004 Eminent Faculty Award.

The $15,000 award was created in 2000 at the request of WSU President V. Lane Rawlins to honor career-long excellence within WSU’s academic community. McSweeney is the fourth recipient of the highest honor the university bestows on a faculty member.  Along with other award-winning faculty members, McSweeney will be honored during the WSU Showcase on March 26.  Ralph Yount, Don Dillman and Rod Croteau are former Eminent Faculty Award winners.

”Our intent in establishing the Eminent Faculty Award was to recognize some of those giants in our midst who do their jobs quietly every day but, in doing so, have made a profound impact in their field of study, inspired and lifted hundreds of students and served the university with distinction. Frances McSweeney, this year’s recipient, fills that bill in every respect,” Rawlins said.

“As we examined her research, teaching and service, all of us were impressed that she is an exemplary faculty member in every respect. Fran has made major contributions in her research area while filling the role as a complete and outstanding faculty member. Working with her is a great pleasure,” he said. “She brings her enormous energy, talent and intellect to each task she accepts.”

McSweeney said she was astonished to learn she had won the Eminent Faculty Award.  “It’s a privilege to be part of a faculty as distinguished as WSU’s,” McSweeney said. “I consider the award quite an honor.”

A faculty member at WSU since 1974, McSweeney is known for her fundamental work on behavior and reinforcement.  Her current work tries to explain why a behavior stops.  When asked, one may give a different explanation for why he/she stopped eating (e.g. subject is full), stopped running (e.g. subject is tired) or playing video games (e.g. the subject is bored). McSweeney argues, instead, that there is a simple, common contributor to the termination of all of these behaviors: habituation.

McSweeney’s research has been supported by grants from many agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.  

Throughout her career, McSweeney has been recognized for her outstanding scholarship. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and American Psychological Society, two major professional groups in psychology. She was recognized by her WSU peers for her research and teaching accomplishments by being selected to give the Distinguished Faculty Address in 1995. She is a former WSU Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of Psychology and recipient of the 2002 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship and Arts.  A past chair of the Faculty Senate, McSweeney also received the Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award for 2001.

In January 2002, McSweeney was named vice provost for Faculty Affairs and continues to work as a faculty member.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., McSweeney is a graduate of Smith College (Mass.) and earned a master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University.

McSweeney will receive the Eminent Faculty Award at a new university event, “Celebrating Excellence: An Evening Honoring Our Faculty and Staff.” Created to honor the outstanding achievements of faculty and staff across campus, the event begins with a banquet at 6 p.m. March 26 at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. Newly tenured and promoted faculty, award recipients and one guest each will be hosted by the university. Reserved banquet tickets for the rest of the campus community and the public will go on sale in early March.

To be considered for the Eminent Faculty Award, nominees must be a full-time Washington State University faculty member and have been employed a minimum of 10 years at the university. They must have changed the thinking in their respective fields by making lasting contributions through teaching, research, creative scholarship and service and possess notable contributions to the vitality and strength of the WSU community.