Loyola Marymount University President Robert B. Lawton, S.J., presented the Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award for 2009 to Jodi S. Finkel, associate professor of political science.
Finkel is known as an innovator in the classroom. In her “Overcoming Poverty” course, she works with students six months before the start of class to discover their research interests and career goals. She uses that information in establishing compatible internships for them with Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations.
“In my own classroom,” Finkel said, “I attempt to ask my students the burning questions that will send them on a life-long journey. … You never know which question will dance endlessly at the back of a student’s mind or beat tirelessly at the center of a student’s heart.”
An example of her inspirational leadership is the nonprofit MuJER. In 2005, Finkel helped Ana Moraga and Tania Torres, two of her students, found the organization as a small literacy project in Guatemala City for about 30 female sex workers. Since then, MuJER has expanded to serve and empower more than 200 women through computer training, vocational classes and programs dealing with self-esteem, human rights and domestic violence. Today, Finkel is the president of MuJER’s board of directors.
The Burns Award, the university’s top honor for teaching, is named after Fritz B. Burns, who was a real estate developer and benefactor of Loyola Marymount University.