The Macebearer is the highest faculty honor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is symbolic of the faculty’s commitment of service to students, to scholarship, and to society.
Distinguished Professor of Humanities Michael Handelsman has used his considerable talents as a scholar-teacher to benefit those at UT and beyond.
His contribution to Latin American studies spans several decades, during which he’s authored nine monographs, edited six textbooks, and published 74 articles in refereed journals. Through grant initiatives, he has forged important cultural and linguistic ties between UT and Latin America and between the university and the greater community. Here at home, Handelsman developed the East Tennessee Collaborative on Latin American Studies for K–12 teachers and has been a major proponent of service-learning. Through UT’s Community Spanish Practicum, about 150 students with advanced knowledge of Spanish have put their skills to work in a variety of community venues including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Centro Hispano, Project Grad, the UT College of Law Legal Clinic, Catholic Charities, Head Start, and Inskip Elementary School.
He has served as director of the Spanish section of the Tennessee Governor’s Academy for foreign language teachers and on the board of the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association. He has held the distinguished professorship since 1987, been a faculty associate of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy since 2009, directed the College of Arts and Sciences Global Studies program since 2010, and served as faculty director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships since 2011.
An outstanding teacher and the holder of multiple Fulbright faculty scholarships, he is a recipient of UT’s Alexander Prize and the Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award. His outreach work has also garnered numerous honors, including the 2017 UT President’s Award: Citation of Merit for Public Outreach, the UT Ready for the World Initiative Award, and UT’s Jefferson Prize for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. He received the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association’s 2011 Jacqueline Elliott Award for teaching and service in higher education.