Dr. Francisco Plaza, associate professor of politics is the 2018 recipient of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Charles and Hazel Corts Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Plaza, who is originally from Venezuela, has been teaching at PBA for more than a decade. He also currently serves as a faculty member for the University’s Frederick M. Supper Honors Program.
The distinguished faculty award is presented through an endowment fund established in 1995 by former PBA president Dr. Paul R. Corts and his wife, Diane to honor his parents and their commitment to higher education and scholarship.
“This award is perhaps the most cherished distinction here at PBA. It certainly is for me,” said Plaza in an email Thursday.
As the newest Corts honoree, Plaza will serve as faculty Grand Marshal during the 2018-19 academic year performing a range of ceremonial duties such as carrying PBA's mace in procession at the December 2018 and May 2019 commencement ceremonies.
Plaza’s arrival at PBA in 2005 launched a new chapter in his veteran teaching career – the opportunity to teach in English for the first time.
“I was greatly humbled by the confidence that PBA placed [in] me by giving me the responsibility to teach Freedom in American Society, one of [its] most essential general education courses for its identity as a Christian university,” he said.
PBA’s confidence in his abilities was again reaffirmed when the University’s administration encouraged him to make substantial changes to the pre law and politics academic curricula, Plaza added.
“This award is yet a new, most appreciated sign of appreciation from an institution that has given me so much, by allowing me to integrate my Christian faith to my teaching and scholarly activities,” he said.
Plaza holds several academic degrees including a master’s and a doctorate from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s and MBA from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas.
Prior to joining PBA, Plaza taught political theory at his alma mater Universidad Metropolitana, where he also founded and served as director of the first liberal arts program in Venezuela. During the mid-to-late 1990s, he worked as an alternate representative of Venezuela’s Diplomatic Mission to the Organization of American States.
“He’s a wonderful human being and a great teacher,” said Dr. Linda Raeder, professor of politics in the School of Arts and Sciences who nominated Plaza for the Corts award. The two professors have known each other since graduate school when they studied together in the doctoral program at Catholic University of America, said Raeder, the 2017 Corts recipient.
In recent years, other Corts awardees have included Pam Sigafoose, senior assistant professor of education (2016); Dr. Thomas Chesnes, professor of biology (2015); Dr. Beate Rodewald, associate professor of English (2014) and Dr. Jennifer Elmore, professor of English and department chair (2013).