The award, in its 32nd year, is UofL’s most prestigious faculty award, recognizing faculty members who have made significant contributions to student life. The UofL Board of Trustees made the announcement at its meeting April 22.
“Thank you so much,” Gainous said. “I couldn’t be more honored. I really do owe this so much to my students. I can’t believe what I get to do.”
Gainous, who has been at UofL since 2006, is a comparative political behavioralist whose research focuses on the intersection of information technology and public opinion. He is frequently interviewed by members of local, national and international media in television, print and radio for his political science expertise. He is director UofL’s Kentucky General Assembly Internship Program, where he has placed almost 500 students in the House and Senate in Frankfort. He also works with the Personnel Cabinet of the Kentucky Executive Branch placing students in paid summer positions.
“For most students, their dreams are bigger than one class. They want to take on the challenges of the world and the workplace. To help students, experiential learning outside the classroom is critical,” Gainous said in his teaching and learning statement. “I have seen the importance of experiential learning as the director of the Kentucky General Assembly Internship Program for 14 years. … This program has shaped lives by teaching students that they can use what they have learned to affect change.”
In letters reinforcing his nomination for the award, students and colleagues praised — over and over again — the unconditional support and infectious enthusiasm he offers students.
“Despite my dyslexia, Professor Gainous saw in me a student worth teaching,” wrote Bryce Kleinsteuber. “As a direct result, I went from someone unsure about what I wanted to do with my future when I first sat in his class on the Internet and Politics in 2013 to a PhD student in political science now.”
Gainous is a frequent conference presenter and his most recent book is “Tweeting to Power: The Social Media Revolution in American Politics,” with co-author Kevin M. Wagner. He is also co-editor of Journal of Information Technology & Politics, the American Political Science Association’s flagship journal in political communications.
In partnership with the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs and Jeffrey Sun of UofL’s College of Education and Human Development, Gainous has recently been helping to develop training programs in the cybersecurity industry for service members, veterans and their dependents.
Gainous will receive the award, which includes $5,000 in prize money, during commencement exercises at Cardinal Stadium the weekend of May 7-9.