Marquette social and cultural sciences professor honored with Teaching Excellence Award

July 27, 2020

darren wheelock headshotMILWAUKEE — Dr. Darren Wheelock, associate professor of social and cultural sciences in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University, is the recipient of a 2020 John P. Raynor, S.J. Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.

The Excellence in University Service Awards recognize staff members for their contributions to the essential work of Marquette at the highest level of excellence. Candidates are nominated based on meritorious service that is above and beyond the duties normally assigned to their positions.

Wheelock is known for pushing students to think critically about issues of great importance to the Marquette community and beyond. Department colleagues recognize Wheelock as priding himself on living out Marquette’s Jesuit principles and values.

A person who nominated Wheelock for the award wrote: “Darren not only knows each student by their name, he also invests time getting to know them on a much deeper and more holistic level. Darren believes that to teach in a Jesuit institution, and to follow its mission, he must care for the whole student. This means Darren spends time — both in and out of the classroom — getting to know his students.”

One student said Wheelock has been a consistent source of encouragement and motivation, which has had a long-lasting, positive impact on her education and outlook on life’s possibilities.

“One day after class, Dr. Wheelock told me that he appreciated my contributions to an earlier discussion and asked if I had ever considered conducting research in the future. I had not and couldn’t fathom myself as a young African American woman in such an esteemed position,” the student wrote. “Yet, both throughout the remainder of the course and even after the course, he often reminded me criminology and sociology needed someone with my unique insight. Though he may not have known at the time, those words encouraged me to begin imagining what was possible — and for that I am forever grateful.”

Wheelock said his teaching is inspired by the capacity for human action, community and change.

“As a criminologist, much of my research and scholarship focuses on criminal justice practices that strip people of fundamental dignity and rights or on public support for those policies,” Wheelock said. “Contemporary criminal justice is rife with problems including, but not limited to, mass incarceration; police violence and surveillance that frequently targets communities of color; social and economic penalties of arrest and pretrial detention; the countless challenges for released prisoners that seek to improve their lives. Teaching provides an opportunity to reorient my focus from the persistence of these issues to needed reforms and changes.”

About Shelby Williamson

Shelby Williamson

Shelby is a senior communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Shelby at (414) 288-6712 or