Professors Chou and Trawalter Announced as Inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia announces the appointment of Eileen Chou and Sophie Trawalter as inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors. These endowed professorships seek to honor teacher-scholar-leaders of the top rank who embody the ideals and vision of Frank Batten, Sr., the founder of the Batten School.

The Batten School is the only school of its kind, committed to integrating leadership and public policy education. These professorships support recruitment and retention of distinguished leadership scholars and ensure that leadership remains at the forefront of the Batten School’s reputation in perpetuity.

“The Batten School’s mission is ‘to develop leaders and generate new knowledge to solve the world’s toughest public policy challenges,’” said Jay Shimshack, associate dean for academic affairs. “Eileen and Sophie are transforming how we think – and teach - about leaders and leadership. I am so delighted to see them honored as Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Professors.”

Eileen Chou Batten School
Eileen Chou, one of two inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors.

Eileen Chou, Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Associate Professor of Public Policy

Chou completed her Ph.D. in management and organization at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and subsequently joined the Batten School in 2012.

She is a leading scholar on the organizational, social and psychological forces that regulate behavior and she investigates how situations can be engineered to reduce individual dishonesty, build trust, foster cooperation and encourage creativity.

Chou emphasizes leadership in the context of both the organization and the individual. She studies leadership in terms of leading effective organizations and career development for leaders. Students regularly describe her experiential approach to teaching, where students participate directly in simulations and experiments that highlight core lessons, as “phenomenal,” “fun” and “inspiring.”

“I can’t think of many professors whose lectures and interactive classes are applauded - including standing ovations - more often than Professor Chou’s,” said Ian Solomon, dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.  “Her teaching is a masterclass in leadership education.”  

Sophie Trawalter Batten School
Sophie Trawalter, one of two inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors.

Sophie Trawalter, Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Associate Professor of Public Policy and Psychology

Trawalter received her Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in 2006. Trawalter joined the Batten School in August 2010, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Psychology.

Trawalter is one of the world’s leading scholars on how identity and context shape individual experiences and how this translates into lessons for organizational leadership and public policy. She studies interracial interactions, interpersonal bias, the effects of race and class on disparities and individuals’ sense of place and the impact of differential representations of diversity in organizational settings.

Her papers frequently include a student or former student as co-author. Students consistently describe Trawalter as “knowledgeable,” “passionate” and “inclusive.” Students praise her classes, which enable them to engage thoughtfully in difficult conversations about values and bias.

“Professor Trawalter’s contributions in and out of the classroom - and beyond academia - are profound in terms of how leaders think about interracial conflict and exercise leadership for diverse and divided communities,” said Solomon.

The Impact of the Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professorship

Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professorships provide recipients with financial support to continue first-rate scholarly productivity and impactful contributions to teaching and mentoring. The research chairs recognize and support tenured faculty who have demonstrated a substantial commitment to the study of and teaching about leaders, leadership, or organizational effectiveness. Recipients represent the ideal scholar-teacher model with outstanding contributions to the university and society through their teaching as well as scholarship.

“It is humbling to work with Batten School colleagues who epitomize excellence in original scholarship and innovative teaching on leadership,” Solomon shared. “As proud holders of the Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professorships, Professors Trawalter and Chou will equip and inspire students to serve the greater good. They cultivate leadership that is both great and good.”

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