Dr. Joan Ostrove, psychology professor and director of the Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching, is the recipient of the 2024 Thomas Jefferson Award. The award was established in 1961 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation to honor members of the Macalester community who exemplify the principles and ideals of the third President of the United States. Dr. Ostrove was selected by a committee of past Jefferson Award winners.

“Joan is a beloved member of the Macalester community whose impact on our campus is deep and broad,” said Dr. Tom Halverson, dean of the faculty and recipient of the 2020 Jefferson Award. “She has mentored nearly every faculty member at one point or another, she helped guide the campus through the pandemic, and she is a fierce advocate for equity and justice.”

Ostrove came to Macalester in 1999 after completing her PhD in psychology and certificate in women’s studies at the University of Michigan, as well as a postdoctoral fellowship in health psychology at the University of California–San Francisco. In her teaching, she guides students to appreciate the broad social structures that shape human experience. Her courses include Introduction to Psychology, History of Psychology, Psychology of Gender, Directed Research in Psychology, Health Psychology, Lives in Context, and her signature course, Psychology of/and Disability. Her pedagogy is innovative and creative, and deeply relational: she values and respects all members of the class as fellow teacher-learners. She received the Minnesota Psychological Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award in 2015.

Her scholarly work is highly cited, including papers that pioneered our understanding of the psychology of social class and the complexities of alliances across differences in social identities, as well as recent work on the unique experiences of disabled people during the worst of the COVID pandemic. Her leadership in professional societies includes the Board for the Society of Disability Studies.

At Macalester, Ostrove’s service contributions have touched nearly every facet of the college. She chaired the Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) departments, and served for many years on the WGSS steering committee. As associate dean of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship, she deepened her engagement in equity and justice work. Her committee service includes the Faculty Personnel Committee, Educational Policy and Governance Committee, Affirmative Action Committee, Disability Task Force, and many faculty and staff search committees. In Ostrove’s current role as the Serie Center’s director, she ensures that equity is at the heart of programming, with resources on implementing universal design, anti-racist teaching, and instructional innovation.

“I value how dedicated our colleagues are to what they do, and I value Macalester’s commitment to always trying to do better and live into our mission and goals,” Ostrove says. “And I value our students: their curiosity and their commitment to changing the world. I’m proud of all of the really meaningful and important relationships I’ve gotten to have with awesome colleagues and students over the years.”

Previous recipients of the Jefferson Award include Professors Satoko Suzuki (2023), Bill Moseley (2022), Duchess Harris (2021), Galo González (2018) and James Laine (2017), former Registrar Jayne Niemi (2019), and Laurie Hamre (2015), former Vice President of Student Affairs. “We have amazing colleagues here,” Ostrove says. “This is deeply humbling—I’m completely shocked and incredibly honored.”

April 10 2024

Back to top