Maximilian Schuster Receives Research Award for Campus Climate Study

Maximilian Schuster in a black suit and tie

Maximilian Schuster, assistant professor of practice in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, was selected for the 2021 Excellence in Research Award by the NASPA Orientation, Retention and Transition Knowledge Community.

Schuster received the award for his article “‘An Experience Unlike Any Other’: The Experiences of First-Year Students with Minoritized Identities with Campus Climate During the 2016 Presidential Election,” which appeared in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education in June 2020.

NASPA’s research award recognizes exemplary research that practitioners can use to improve student services in the areas of orientation, transition, and retention within higher education institutions.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with this distinction from NASPA, the leading professional association for student affairs,” says Schuster.

Schuster will be honored during the 2021 virtual NASPA Annual Conference, which is scheduled from March 17-21.

His award-winning paper examined a tumultuous time on college campuses across America: the 2016 presidential election.

Using a campus climate framework, the qualitative study reported on the experiences of 17 first-year students with minoritized identities amid this divisive political context. The students, who included people of color and LGBTQ+ students, were from an urban university within a battleground state.

The study found that students with minoritized identities experienced increased hostilities within this political context. To contend with this negativity, the students engaged in forms of activism. Their activism allowed them to rebuff the hostilities they were experiencing, raise awareness of their own identity and foster stronger peer connections. 

Schuster was previously selected for the 2019-20 NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy. The one-year program is for early-career faculty in student affairs and higher education graduate programs.