The Curry Award for Faculty Excellence is one of three significant ones awarded to Georgetown College faculty members each year. Tuesday (Jan. 26) at Founder’s Day Convocation, Provost Rosemary Allen said that choosing the co-chairs of the General Education Task Force – Dr. Cliff Wargelin, Professor of History and Chair of the department, and Dr. Bill Stevens, Association Professor of Biology – to share this recognition for 2010 was only fitting.
“I appointed these two about five years ago (soon after I became provost) to try to re-start the process of reforming our general education program and aligning it with the needs of our current students,” Dr. Allen wrote in an e-mail. “We hadn’t had a successful change in our general education program in over 30 years – and our program was antiquated and unresponsive to the interests and needs of our students. But curriculum is VERY hard to change, especially since it is common for faculty to see changes in the general education program as a threat to their departments and their jobs.
“But these two figured out a way to work together to construct a process that would include as many faculty as possible in the revision process, thus building a sense of ownership among the full faculty,” she continued. “These two are so different in nearly every way – and in learning to work together, they started to build a theory of how to bring together the various constituencies involved in the general education process.”
She went on to explain that after a year of initial work and research, they brought additional faculty onto the process, forming the Task Force that had representatives from all five divisions. Wargelin and Stevens then devised a development process that involved nearly two thirds of our faculty as active participants in the design of the curriculum.
Said the Provost, “This is an extraordinary achievement – and it was truly a joint achievement.”
Leading up to the announcement of Wargelin and Stevens before a large Hill Chapel audience, Dr. Allen said:
“This year, the award goes to two outstanding teachers, both of whom have received accolades from students. One is described as “a great teacher—challenging, funny, and always willing to help students in whatever way he can.” The other is described as “A dedicated, genuine teacher who deeply cares about teaching and his students.” Both are serious scholars in their respective disciplines. But the key reason for this award comes from their combined five-year endeavor to bring about curriculum reform in general education. Through careful research, inspired leadership, and selfless dedication of time and effort, they succeeded in bringing the faculty to consensus on a contentious issue.”
Allen said that a Faculty Committee determined there would be co-winners this year and that Wargelin and Stevens were nominated together by several people.
The Curry Award for Faculty Excellence is named in honor of Dr. Ralph Curry and Dr. Gwen Curry, two long-time leaders of the Georgetown College faculty and former chairs of the English department. The award is intended to recognize three elements of faculty life that were important to the Currys: service to faculty, excellence in scholarship, and dedication to students.
The other two significant faculty awards the Provost alluded to are the John Walker Manning Award, presented at opening convocation in the fall to a faculty member who excels in mentorship of students. The Don B. and Chris Kerr Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award is presented at commencement to the faculty member who is recognized as the best teacher.
But, the Curry award, she said “is special because it gives us an opportunity to recognize faculty who combine excellent teaching and academic research with the very important behind-the-scenes work of faculty committees and the special projects that are part of our institutional tradition of shared governance.”
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