Professor Glendinning Receives William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award

In recognition of his comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence, instruction, and outreach, Peter Glendinning, Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, has received the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Supported by MSU’s Office of University Development, the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards are made each year to faculty members for their outstanding total service to the university. The nominations are based on teaching; advising; research; publications; art exhibitions; concert performances; committee work; public service including extension, outreach, and work with government agencies and industry; or a combination of these activities. 

Professor Peter Glendinning
(Photo by Basil Brady Photography)

Glendinning is an accomplished photographer with an outstanding record of exhibitions and publications, teaching and mentorship of MSU students, an expanded pedagogical reach through Coursera (an online database of courses and specializations taught by accredited university professors around the world), and leadership within the photography education community. His record exemplifies his most enduring commitments: his drive to explore the technical history of photography as a medium, his investment in photography’s capacity to record social change in local and global contexts, and his commitment to advancing the teaching of photography at Michigan State University and beyond.

As he moved into his fifth decade of service at MSU, Glendinning embarked upon a new research project based on field research in South Africa. Called “Attached to the Soil,” this multimedia project of oral histories, landscape video segments, and location portraits, focuses on the metaphor of unity proposed by President Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech as Apartheid ended in 1994.  The 50 works, each combining portraits with oral history stories from the subjects, guided by metaphors proposed by young South Africans based in their aspirations for the future of their country 25 years after Mandela’s, will be exhibited widely in 2022.

Professor Peter Glendinning (left) during his Fulbright fellowship to South Africa. He is pictured with Victor Matom, a photographer who teaches photography in Soweto, South Africa.

During his 2019 Fulbright fellowship to South Africa, Glendinning accompanied his field research with lectures at 16 universities, moving beyond the country’s few resource-rich institutions to share techniques with a wide array of students and colleagues. In the words of one referee, “‘Attached to the Soil’ is an important work of art. It demonstrates that South Africa is truly on the road towards that ‘better place’ that Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela envisioned.” 

Having taught in the Department of Art, Art History and Design since 1978, Glendinning has witnessed and helped shape several waves of change in the teaching of art at the undergraduate level. His record shows his consistent balance between encouraging students to develop a solid background in technical skills and being open to emergent forms of artwork. In 2014, he created and began leading The Art of Photography education abroad program. In 2011, he launched an AT&T Award-winning online photography course for MSU education abroad students, and five years ago, he and Professor Mark Sullivan launched a five-course online specialization on the Coursera platform that has served more than 390,000 students worldwide.

Professors Peter Glendinning (left) and Mark Sullivan (right) in fall 2016 with the photography exhibit at MSU’s Kresge Art Center that featured photos taken by students of their Coursera photography course.

Glendinning has served the national and regional photographic education community as President of the Midwest chapter of the Society for Photographic Education and as President of the Photo Imaging Education Association. 

Throughout his career, he has shown a commitment to excellence most deserving of the recognition and honor of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.

Glendinning will receive his award during the MSU Awards Convocation, which is being scheduled for next year due to the pandemic.