To see how much The John Walker Manning Distinguished Mentor and Teacher Award means to a professor you needed to have been at Georgetown College’s 180th Opening Convocation Tuesday when the surprised winner walked onto the John L. Hill Chapel stage and hugged Provost Rosemary Allen.
“I was just flabbergasted,” said Math professor Chris Leverenz. Afterwards she was amazed that her department – she chairs Math, Physics & Computer Science – kept it a secret for 10 days.
Her family – husband Theo, and adult children Jonathon ’02 and Karyn ’08 – knew a week before, kept their silence and attended the presentation without her knowing. The following day Leverenz sort of choked when she said, “That night, my son said ‘Som, I’m always proud you’re my mom’.”
“But, this award means the most because students do the nominating as well as the bulk of the selection,” said Dr. Leverenz, obviously moved Tuesday when she realized Dr. Allen was reading student remarks about her consistently going “above and beyond.” Certainly demonstrating teaching excellence is paramount, but being involved with students outside the classroom determines Manning winners.
Before calling Leverenz to the stage, the Provost said:
“She teaches in a field that many find intimidating, but she is herself someone whom everyone loves – recognized for her warm, caring attitude and (as one nominator put it) her ‘mom hugs.’ She’s highly effective in the classroom, but her real strength comes from her willingness to be there for students outside of the classroom, whether it is by supplying help on assignments, giving grad school advice, providing essential help with student organizations, or simply being there on a personal level when students need her.”
Then, Dr. Allen described a memorable moment in the Lexington airport last year – at almost midnight – as she was returning from a conference: “As I went to pick up my bags, I saw this professor who was there waiting for a student who was coming back from studying abroad for a semester. He received the sort of love and support from this professor (Leverenz) that is usually the provenance of parents, and in his nomination he says how much this meant to his success.”
Nominees must also have contributed to the college academic community above and beyond regular duties during the past two years. More than satisfying that requirement, Dr. Leverenz has been one of the real leaders of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society as a past president and current treasurer.
Now, in her 28th year of teaching at Georgetown College, Leverenz knows the company she joins as the 14th recipient of this award. “The Manning group is very distinguished,” she said, adding “Anything I have learned about working with students I have learned from my colleagues.”
The Manning Award Winners
- Doug Griggs – 1996
- Rosemary Allen – 1997
- Pete LaRue – 1998
- Barbara Burch – 1999
- Suzanne Peal – 2000
- Frank Wiseman – 2001
- Karyn McKenzie – 2002
- Jeff Fieberg – 2003
- Mary Brady – 2004
- Michael Cairo – 2005
- Ed Smith – 2006
- Sheila Klopfer – 2007
- Juilee Decker – 2008
- Chris Leverenz – 2009
More about the award
The John Walker Manning Distinguished Mentor and Teacher Award has been established for the purpose of recognizing tenure-track faculty at Georgetown College who have shown a commitment to mentoring students and who have also demonstrated excellence in teaching. Nominees shall have demonstrated leadership in mentoring and counseling students in their academic course work and other aspects of college life during the past two years. They shall have demonstrated collegiality, Georgetown attitude and spirit, and high moral character.
This award is named in memory of John Walker Manning, class of 1921. Dr. Manning was a professor of management at the University of Louisville and former commissioner of finance for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The award has been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Manning’s late widow, Mrs. Sylvia Beard. The recipient was chosen by a committee composed of students, faculty and staff after receiving nominations from the college community last Spring. In addition to the $2,500 award, the recipient will also be presented with the Manning Medallion designed by Georgetown College alumna Emily Osborne Lackey ’99.