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Magazine On-line [summer 2007]
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Around the Campus

Faculty receive Bingham Awards, promotions for teaching excellence

Three Transylvania professors have been recognized with Bingham Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and four other faculty members have been granted tenure and promotions.

Ellen CoxPhilosophy professor Ellen Cox, education professor Kathy Egner, and mathematics professor Kim Jenkins received Bingham Awards, which are accompanied by annual salary supplements for five years. A committee comprised of outside educators selects Bingham Award recipients based on classroom visits, essays, and student evaluations.

Ellen Cox came to Transylvania in 2002 after earning a Ph.D. from DePaul University. With specialization in 20th-century continental philosophy and women’s and gender studies, she teaches a range of courses from feminist philosophies to ethical theory.

Cox said her primary goal as an educator is to teach students to read.

“Learning to read means attending to the way language works, broadly,” she said, “not just to reflect reality, but also to shape and determine it.”

Cox uses a combination of Socratic teaching and close reading in the classroom, with class periods almost always dialogue driven, and on-going conversations that push students to take positions on the issues.

“So much of what students want and expect to learn involves finality, one answer, a conversation closed,” she said. “I strive for them to recognize the difficulty and sometimes impossibility of resolving many of the important questions we address in philosophy and women’s studies, without allowing them to become frustrated or disheartened by this lack of resolution.”

Kathy EgnerKathy Egner joined the Transylvania faculty in 2000. She earned her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and came to Transy from Berlin, Germany.

Egner said her major goals as an educator are to inspire students to love learning, to encourage them to strive for transformation in their thinking, and to support them as their learning becomes part of themselves and influences how they live.

“I establish a learning community in each class, and I am one of the learners,” she said. “When we are engaged in discussion, which is my primary way of teaching, I try to draw out the best in each one of them.”

Egner adheres to a philosophy of constructivism, which advocates learning by doing, with individuals being responsible for their learning within the context of a community.

“I expect students to take the primary responsibility for their own learning,” she said. “In all of my courses, I collect materials, offer readings, and lead discussions. The students must apply principles by developing units that they will teach to children or other projects, trying them out in schools, and reflecting together on their experiences.”

Kim JenkinsKim Jenkins also came to Transylvania in 2000 after earning a Ph.D. from Auburn University and teaching at the University of Evansville. Her area of research is combinatorics, with primary emphasis on design theory and graph theory.

“My goal is to teach students to ask and answer the question, ‘Why?’” she said, “in all my classes, from Foundations of the Liberal Arts to Design Theory.”

Jenkins strives to engage an active learning style in her mathematics courses. She said that while she once saw her responsibility as teaching her students to work problems, she now sees it as teaching her students how to explore mathematics and think critically about what they are doing and why.

“I want to teach them to see connection to other material, to adapt previous methods to fit new situations, to know why a previous method may fail and why it may still apply,” she said.

“I spend much more time discussing mathematics and less time actually at the board working problems.”

Promotions and tenure

History professor Melissa McEuen and biology professor James Wagner have been granted promotion to full professor. Tenure and promotion to associate professor have been granted to French professor Brian Arganbright and education professor Amy Maupin.

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