(At time of award presentation, 2009)
Professor of Geography, College of Liberal Arts, is described by his colleagues as a "towering intellect, a universally admired educator, and a highly respected leader." His contributions have transformed the core understanding of the space economy, urban transformation, regional development, globalization, and geographic science, and are recognized globally. He is credited with bringing his department to a top-three national status. Considered to be one of the worlds leading geographers, his scholarly work includes nine books, thirty-two major refereed papers and seventeen book chapters. His first book, The Capitalist Space Economy (written with a former student who is now Distinguished Research Professor at the University of British Columbia), took up systematically the spatial dynamics of pricing strategies, commodity flows, labor markets and resource endowments. A review published by the Annals of the Association of American Geography, called it "a seminal contribution to the writings on political economy." He has worked tirelessly to shape the discipline at large and an example of that work is the development of GIS (Geographic Information Science), or GIS and Society. He is credited with pursuing the implications of considering how GIS is intertwined with society and for taking the lead in developing more critical approaches, and for catalyzing research on "public participation GIS." Not only is his research held in high esteem, so are his cutting-edge graduate and undergraduate textbooks, which have become key texts in classroom around the world. In addition, his contributions to the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change have made him a key contributor in internationalizing the University. The $700,000 grant he secured from the Mellon Foundation funds a collaborative faculty and graduate education partnership between ICGC and the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, placing Minnesota at the center of an innovative scholarly network. He has expanded this endeavor to universities in Turkey. Most recently, he took the lead in putting together a $600,000 grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation to support the education of undergraduate students of color. He has held numerous leadership positions in the University and its community including department chair, vice-chair of the CLA Assembly, chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, chair of the Urban Studies Advisory Committee, and has been a members of many search committees and advisory committees. He is a successful advisor and mentor to graduate and undergraduate students. Six of his Ph.D. students have graduated and have gone on to hold tenure track positions and post-doctoral fellowships as prestigious universities both in the United States and abroad. He has organized/co-organized numerous international conferences and has been the keynote, plenary lecturer, or invited lecturer at more than 130 conferences or universities nationally and internationally. Professor Sheppard exemplifies the qualities of a Regents Professor.