Bridget Welsh, associate professor of
studies at SAIS, will receive the 2009
Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching at the
school's commencement ceremony in
Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 21.
Welsh, who joined the SAIS faculty in fall 2001, has
taught graduate courses on political
conflict, democracy, human rights, development, gender,
comparative politics and Southeast Asian
politics. Her primary research interests focus on
contemporary Southeast Asian politics, with special
emphasis on Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar/Burma and
With three single-authored books forthcoming, Welsh
has two additional projects working, on
mob/vigilante violence in Indonesia and campaign strategies
of Islamic parties in Southeast Asia. Her
awards include the Henry R. Luce Southeast Asian Fellowship
at the Australian National University and
a United States Institute of Peace grant to examine
political support for Islamic parties in Southeast
Asia. She is research director for Malaysia for the Asian
Barometer Project, a consultant to Freedom
House and a strong advocate for democracy and gender
In nominating her for the teaching award, one of
Welsh's students wrote: "Professor Welsh is
wholeheartedly dedicated to the education and personal
growth of each of her students. She taught
five courses at SAIS this year and actively published in
academic and media journals, demonstrating
not only her depth and breadth of knowledge but also the
rich blend of a true academic-practitioner.
She is an asset to SAIS."
Another student wrote, "Professor Welsh has been an
outstanding teacher, firmly committed to
her students in every way possible. Her seminars are
stimulating and she makes a personal effort to
get to know each student. She even goes out of her way to
have her classes over to her house for
dinner. One would be hard-pressed to find a more ideal
A graduate of Colgate University, Welsh received her
doctorate from the Department of
Political Science at Columbia University.
Having completed her eight-year faculty appointment at
SAIS, Welsh will be departing this
summer to become an associate professor of political
science at Singapore Management University.
The Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching was
established in 2007 by the family of
Max Fisher as a tribute to his life and his abiding
interest in international affairs. Former chairman of
Aurora Gasoline, Fisher was a dedicated advocate for the
Jewish community and for his hometown of
Detroit. He served as an adviser to Republican presidents
from Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W.
Bush and as an unofficial ambassador between the United
States and Israel in Middle Eastern affairs.
His daughter, Marjorie Fisher, is a trustee of The Johns
Hopkins University. The Max M. Fisher Prize
for Excellence in Teaching is presented at commencement
each year to one professor selected by the
students of SAIS.
One of the stipulations of the Fisher Prize is for the
recipient to give a public lecture at SAIS
on a topic of his or her choosing. For Welsh, this turned
out to be a bittersweet assignment as her
Fisher Prize lecture also served as her last SAIS lecture.
On May 6, Welsh was welcomed to an
auditorium of more than 100 students, faculty, staff and
friends as she gave an impassioned speech
about "Engagement, Empowerment and Employment: Building
Democracy in Southeast Asia."