Wasser selected as 2020 Kelley-Willits Award winner

August 26, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Michael Wasser, an adjunct faculty member with the School of Labor and Employment Relations in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, has been selected as the 2020 winner of the Kelley-Willits Award for Excellence in Online Teaching.

Since 2011, the award has been given annually to an instructor in the school’s Labor and Human Resources or Human Resources and Employment Relations online programs who demonstrates exceptional teaching ability, concern for students, and commitment to the school’s mission of preparing students for productive careers.

Rex Simpson, professor of practice in labor and employment relations and the inaugural Kelley-Willits Award winner, noted, “Michael was chosen because of his excellent teaching, but also because of his service. Over the years, he’s helped organize student visits to Washington, D.C. and is active with the Alumni Board of Directors as well as the virtual LERA chapter. He often volunteers to "coach" student groups during our Thursday night presentations tied to the spring alumni board meeting, too. He’s an all-around Penn Stater.”

A graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, Wasser obtained both a bachelor’s degree in labor studies and employment relations and a master’s degree in human resources and employment relations from the school. As an adjunct professor, Wasser teaches Introduction to Labor and Human Resources and has been employed at the University for more than eight years.

“As Ed Kelley and Billie Willits’s former student, it’s a high honor to be chosen for this award. Ed and Billie didn't just teach the course material, they brought their passion for the field of labor and employment relations to every lecture. Their commitment to helping students inside and outside the classroom inspires me today as an instructor,” said Wasser.

Outside of Penn State, Wasser currently serves as assistant to the president and legislative director for the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), a coalition of 24 national unions representing over 4 million professional, technical, and other highly skilled workers. Wasser joined DPE in August 2016 and is responsible for conducting outreach to labor and nonlabor organizations, representing DPE before Congress on issues important to professional and technical workers, and working with affiliate unions to identify and advance issues important to professional and technical workers.

Prior to joining DPE, Wasser worked at Jobs With Justice (and, prior to its merger, American Rights at Work) for six years, serving most recently as senior policy analyst. He produced original research and led the organization’s federal policy strategy, monitoring developments related to the workplace and serving as the primary liaison to congressional offices and federal agencies.

Wasser’s work has been reported in numerous of media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hill, Huffington Post, and NPR. He also has been published in the Nevada Law Journal.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 26, 2020