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UNT political scientist honored with Piper Professor award

During a visit to Washington, D.C., last year, University of North Texas faculty member John Ishiyama unexpectedly met a former student, who was chief of staff for a Congressional representative from Missouri.

“He was my student more than 15 years ago, but he still remembered me,” said Ishiyama, University Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Political Science. “I also recently learned that a kid I knew when he was 18 is now a distinguished professor at Penn State.”

Ishiyama said seeing former students become successful in their careers, and knowing that he had some impact in their lives, is his greatest reward as a teacher. He’s now been recognized statewide for his impact on teaching as a 2017 Minnie Stevens Piper Professor.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation was created in 1950 by San Antonio residents Minnie Stevens Piper and her husband, Randall Gordon Piper. After the Pipers’ deaths in 1955, the foundation’s directors and officers initiated the Piper Professors program to recognize inspiring educators. The foundation names 10 full-time faculty members at Texas colleges and universities as Piper Professors each year, providing each with a $5,000 honorarium, a certificate and a gold pin. Nominations for the award come from students and other faculty members.

Ishiyama joined the UNT Department of Political Science faculty in 2008. He said teaching “has been a passion for me as long as I can remember.”

“Research in higher education is recognized more easily, but teaching is what we’re supposed to do as professors and have done for thousands of years. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all taught what they knew to the next generation of scholars, so research and teaching go hand in glove,” he said.    

Ishiyama is a faculty associate at the Castleberry Peace Institute, which is housed in UNT’s Department of Political Science, and was lead editor/editor-in-chief of the American Political Science Review when it was housed in the department from 2012-2016.

Since 2010, Ishiyama has directed UNT's summer Research Experience for Undergraduates Program on Conflict Management and Peace Science, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant and provides students from other universities as well as from UNT with intensive research experience.

He has received several other teaching awards, including the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Political Science Association, which previously honored him in 2012 with its Political Science Education Distinguished Service Award. In his previous position at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, Ishiyama was named Professor of the Year for Missouri by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

His awards received as a UNT faculty member include the 2013 Eagle Feather Research Mentor of the Year Award from the Honors College, the 2014 Outstanding Service Award from the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program and the university’s 2014 Ulys and Vera Knight Faculty Mentor Award. Most recently, he was honored with the 2017 UNT Foundation Faculty Leadership Award.

Ishiyama is the eighth UNT faculty member to be named a Piper Professor.