LEXINGTON, Ky.—Philosophy professor Ellen Cox, education professor Kathy Egner, and mathematics professor Kim Jenkins have received Transylvania’s highest teaching honor—The Bingham Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The recipients are selected by a committee composed of distinguished professors from leading liberal arts colleges and universities across the country.
“The members of the selection committee are always impressed with the quality of teaching at Transylvania,” said President Charles L. Shearer. “We place a high priority on teaching excellence at Transylvania, and that fact is underscored by our Bingham Awards for Excellence in Teaching.”
The Bingham Program is unique among faculty incentive programs in that it rewards superior teaching rather than research and its awards are substantial. Recipients receive annual salary supplements for five years and are then reevaluated for annual fellowships for up to 20 years.
Cox came to Transylvania in 2002 after earning her 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.
She 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,” Cox 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 resolutions.”
Egner joined the Transylvania faculty in 2000. She earned her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and came to Transy from Berlin, Germany.
As an educator, Egner’s main goals 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,” Egner 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.”
Jenkins also came to Transy 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?’” in all my classes, from Foundations of the Liberal Arts to Design Theory,” she said.
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.
The Bingham Program for Excellence in Teaching was established in 1987 to attract, inspire and reward faculty members in their efforts to make the classroom an imaginative place of learning and discovery.
“The Bingham program has been extremely successful in rewarding and retaining our best professors and in recruiting exceptional teachers from across the country,” said Shearer.