Bandopadhyaya, Roemer, Watanabe Receive Distinguished Faculty Awards at Commencement

June 10, 2013

Pamela Worth


At Friday’s 45th commencement exercises, three members of the UMass Boston faculty were recognized for their outstanding teaching, research, and service by Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Provost Winston Langley.

Professor Arindam Bandopadhyaya, known affectionately as “Bando,” chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance in the College of Management, received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Motley praised Bandopadhyaya’s leadership of the Student Managed Fund, a class that started as a club, in which students invest actual money (donated by the UMass Foundation) in the stock market and track their portfolio’s performance. Because of Bandopadhyaya’s persistence, each UMass campus now has its own Student Managed Fund; UMass Boston’s fund has consistently outperformed its counterparts.

Bandopadhyaya, who has taught at UMass Boston since 1991, says his students are the best part of the job. UMass Boston students are unique, he says, because “they are not just here to earn a degree: they’re here to learn, they’re here for the full experience. That’s really refreshing.”

One former student says, “As I applied to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Professor Bando gave me advice, confidence, and a sense of purpose that anything I put my mind to I can achieve. When I got the job, he was the first to congratulate me.”

Bandopadhyaya recently took his students to Wall Street to tour the New York Stock Exchange.

Receiving the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship was Professor of Psychology Lizabeth Roemer, whom Motley recognized as an internationally renowned researcher on anxiety disorders. Roemer’s work on the possibilities of mindfulness and awareness-based treatments for those who suffer from conditions such as General Anxiety Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorders, among others, has earned her millions of dollars in research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, and inspired five books and nearly 100 publications in leading scientific journals.

One of her colleagues writes that Roemer is “that rare scholar who produces work that is actually read by both researchers and practitioners,” adding that her scholarship is so accessible, it can help “those who suffer as well as the therapists who treat them.”

Roemer says her research is a collaborative effort, and praises the collegial environment at UMass Boston. “Everything that I do is something I’ve done with a number of other people,” she says. “The students who I work with provide all kinds of contributions, particularly my doctoral students, who are very actively involved with my research. And my colleagues are brilliant and provide emotional and practical support.”

Political Science Department Chair Paul Watanabe, also the director of the Institute for Asian American Studies, earned a standing ovation from the faculty on stage at commencement as he was presented with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service. Although most award winners are notified that they have been nominated, Watanabe’s colleagues submitted his recommendation in secret, knowing that he would object to special recognition.

“My approach is to think that service and teaching and research can be well integrated together. They don’t have to be distinct, they don’t have to be compartmentalized. In fact they feed on each other and enrich each other,” Watanabe says of his 33-year career at UMass Boston. In that time he has assumed many roles, including hosting the radio talk show Commonwealth Journal, conducting public policy-focused research on Asian American communities through the IAAS, involving students in a project to document the experiences of Japanese students in internment camps, and serving as chair of the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations.

Motley told Watanabe that he has “forever changed the culture, priorities, and passions” of UMass Boston. He also nodded to Watanabe’s sought-after political commentary, thanking him for keeping UMass Boston in the news as “a well-informed, witty, pithy political pundit.”

During the fall semester, the three winners will present on topics of their choice at the Distinguished Faculty Lecture.