Dr. Ralph Curry, former chair of the English department, was a key figure in the founding of the college’s Faculty Committee and in designing the processes that protect the rights of the faculty. He worked tirelessly for the good of the faculty, believing that by protecting and promoting the faculty he was protecting and promoting what was best for the college. He was a problem-solver who encouraged faculty to confront issues openly but who always promoted a collegial atmosphere and creative, cooperative conflict resolution. He was willing to make sacrifices and take risks for the good of the college.

Dr. Curry was also a distinguished scholar and a dedicated teacher who fostered academic excellence in his students. A Fulbright Scholar and internationally-recognized expert on Canadian literature, Dr. Curry was an inspiration to his colleagues and to his students.

Dr. Gwen Curry succeeded her husband as chair of the English Department and demonstrated extraordinary dedication to student success. Because of her commitment to quality teaching and to caring, one-on-one relationships with her students, she was named Kentucky Professor of the Year and presented with the Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award.

The Curry Award for Faculty Excellence was established in 2005 and recognizes the elements of faculty life that were important to the Curry’s: service to faculty, excellence in scholarship, and dedication to students and is awarded annually to the faculty member who best emulates the qualities demonstrated by Dr. Ralph Curry and Dr. Gwen Curry. The award is presented at Founder’s Day each spring semester.


  • 2017 – Regan Lookadoo
  • 2016 – Roger Ward
  • 2015 – Karyn McKenzie
  • 2014 – Tom Cooper
  • 2013 – Timothy Griffith
  • 2012 – Jennifer Price
  • 2011 – Harold Tallant
  • 2010 – Harold Tallant
  • 2009 – Brad Hadaway
  • 2008 – Will Harris
  • 2007 – Susan Bell
  • 2006 – Sonny Burnette