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UMass Lowell Educator Honored with Manning Prize

Professor Credited With Growing Nationally Recognized Program for School Administrators

Coburn Hall renovation 2020
UMass Lowell's Stacy Szczesiul has received the 2021 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching in recognition of her work in the university's College of Education.


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LOWELL, Mass. – A UMass Lowell education professor has been recognized for her exemplary commitment to students with one of the University of Massachusetts system’s highest honors. 

Stacy Szczesiul, an associate professor in the university’s College of Education, has received the 2021 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching, awarded to an outstanding faculty member from each of the UMass system’s campuses in Lowell, Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Worcester.  

The award is named in honor of UMass Lowell alumni Robert Manning ’84, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, and Donna Manning ’85, ’91, who established the prize in 2016. To date, the award has been presented to 30 UMass faculty.

Szczesiul was recognized for her achievements yesterday during an online event celebrating the award’s 2021 recipients. 

“It is an honor to receive this recognition and I sincerely thank Donna and Robert Manning for their continued, public valuing of the work teachers do every day. Their support further fuels my commitment to make equity leadership central to the courses I teach,” said Szczesiul, who lives in Lowell.

Szczesiul joined UMass Lowell’s College of Education as a tenure-track faculty member in 2010. Since then, she has taught a range of online and on-campus master’s and doctoral courses in leadership and special education. 

For the past five years, Szczesiul has taught exclusively in and served as coordinator of the college’s nationally recognized online Leadership in Schooling doctoral program, which has doubled in size since its inaugural cohort in 2016 and includes students who work as school administrators all over the world. The program is a member of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, a consortium of schools and colleges of education across North America working to improve the expertise of educational leaders who serve a growing, diverse student population.

Through the program, Szczesiul works alongside her colleagues to develop in their students the awareness needed to understand and disrupt racism, oppression and cultural bias in the classroom. This work is all the more critical given the majority of the program’s students are white K-12 administrators working in schools that serve increasingly diverse communities. 

“It’s our moral and professional responsibility to ensure that kids from historically marginalized groups at least get a critically conscious white administrator who understands that it’s their job to fix the systems that marginalize people,” Szczesiul said. “My colleagues and I have worked hard to make equity literacy a demonstrated requirement of the degree by providing students opportunities to develop the skills and dispositions needed to examine how racism, oppression and cultural bias live in their institutional policies, practices, everyday interactions and organizational norms.”

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, a nationally recognized innovator in higher education and pioneer of online learning, commended Szczesiul for her selection as a Manning Prize recipient.
“I and the entire UMass Lowell community extend our congratulations to Prof. Szczesiul on this well-deserved recognition,” Moloney said. “Her work to level the educational playing field for students who have for too long been marginalized in our society has never been more important. It is imperative we provide school leaders with the tools necessary to build inclusive and responsive educational environments. Prof. Szczesiul’s work places UMass Lowell squarely in the vanguard of these efforts.”

UMass Lowell College of Education Associate Prof. Phitsamay Uy, one of Szczesiul’s collaborators, also offered congratulations.  

“We are thrilled Dr. Szczesiul is being recognized for her hard work. Under her leadership, Stacy was able to move our doctoral program from the conceptual stage to being nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report,” Uy said. 

Szczesiul was nominated for the Manning Prize by UMass Lowell Prof. James Nehring, College of Education faculty chair. Nehring, along with Szczesiul and Megin Charner-Laird, a colleague from Salem State University, authored the 2019 book, “Bridging the Progressive-Traditional Divide in Education Reform,” which examines the history of school reform in the United States and what constitutes excellence in teaching and learning in increasingly diverse classrooms. 

“Dr. Szczesiul’s teaching is exemplary in so many ways. Her message to students consistently is: ‘I will hold you to high standards, and I will support you in getting there.’ With this combination of academic press and emotional support for all her students, Stacy has led the development of our highly successful doctoral program for educators committed to careers in preK-12 schools. The College of Education is very lucky to have Dr. Szczesiul on our team,” he said. 

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.