On April 13th, Mason held its annual Outstanding Achievement Awards Ceremony. At the event, Honors College Director of Communications Richard Todd Stafford was recognized for his dedication to Mason’s mission through the David W. Rossell Quill Award.
The David W. Rossell Quill Award celebrates the strong leadership of its nominees, both within their regular duties and beyond. By dedicating their time and expertise, those presented with this award see potential in their students and put them first time and time again, truly making Mason a better place.
Richard Todd Stafford is the Director of Communication for Mason’s Honors College and a professor in both the Honors College and Cultural Studies departments. This semester, he is teaching HNRS 361, a multidisciplinary practicum course where students develop unique creative research projects. This is just one of many courses he has taught throughout his ten years at Mason.
Multidisciplinary learning and collaboration are the hallmarks of Stafford's approach. As Director of Communication, he mentors a communication team of seven Honors College students and one alumnus that represent several majors. The charge of this team is to tell the Honors College's story. As supervisor of the Honors College Communications Team, Stafford provides professional development guidance and supports interns as they create content including news articles, newsletters, videos, and social media posts.
Outside of academics, Stafford engages with students through the Climate Change and Energy Transition Book Club and as a committed advisor for the Virginia Environmental Justice Summit, a student-led conference that empowers activists across the state. In the past, he has also helped produce the Cultural Studies "Capitalism, Climate, and Culture" Colloquium Podcast.
Stafford was nominated for the David W. Rossell Quill Award by Honors College student and President of the Mason Environmental Justice Alliance, Dasha Maslyukova, with the support of Assistant Dean of the Honors College Anthony Hoefer. “I nominated him because I have seen him both in and outside of the classroom helping students engage with topics that they really care about,” shared Maslyukova, citing her interactions with him through HNRS 361, the book club, and planning the Virginia Environmental Justice Summit.
In addition to his work with students, Stafford is a PhD candidate for the Cultural Studies program, researching the relationships between discourses of “clean coal,” politics surrounding climate change, and practices used by the coal industry.
Maslyukova is just one of many students who have been positively impacted by Stafford’s mentorship. “I hope that he sees that the students he interacts with really take a lot [from his mentorship] and that he influences a lot of different students, even if they might not tell him that directly. Just having him care about students makes me feel like Mason cares about students,” she explained.
In addition to acting as an educator and advisor, he serves as an example in his personal life and local community. For instance, Stafford is currently dedicated to the restoration of Happy Creek, a threatened public waterway in his own community of Front Royal, VA.
“I think that it’s important for students to see professors as active citizens in their own communities,” shared Maslyukova.
The extra mile he goes to mentor students in a professional and personal capacity is impactful, and it shows through the way his students develop as leaders in their communities, find their own direction, have access to the tools they need, and make meaningful cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary connections. Maslyukova emphasizes the importance of his mentorship to her college experience: “He values his students as people and those connections are something I just really appreciate.”