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Awards for excellence in teaching, scholarship and faculty service granted at Convocation

2011 TEACHING AWARDSAt Muskingum University's Convocation, held August 30 on the campus, three faculty members were recognized for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. The awards were presented by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. James E. Callaghan.

The William Oxley Thompson Award for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Dr. William T. Kerrigan, who is the university’s Arthur G. Cole and Eloise Barnes Cole Distinguished Professor of American History.  This award is named in honor of an alumnus whose career combined teaching, ministry and service as president of Miami University and The Ohio State University.

Dr. Callaghan said of Dr. Kerrigan, “His dedication to teaching and – especially – to his students is well-substantiated, and he has developed ways to not only better connect with students, but to better enable them to master skills and to improve their scores.  He has been an early adopter of innovative classroom technologies, but also engages students in what some might call “old-school” – but no less valuable – ways, engaging students in historical projects that not only advance knowledge, but also have given students practical, “hands-on,” experience translatable into skills and opportunities in the workforce.”

Dr. Kerrigan joined the faculty in 1997. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Austin College, his master’s degree from Texas Christian University and his doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.   

The William Rainey Harper Award for Outstanding Scholarship was granted to Associate Professor of English Dr. Jane Varley. This award is named for an alumnus who was a renowned scholar, educator and the founder and first president of the University of Chicago.

Dr. Callaghan said, “Dr. Varley is an inspiring teacher and an extraordinary writer, with a strong sense of not only narrative, but of place and of the inner essence of things, people, and experience.  Dr. Varley’s greatest recent achievement was her work with our late softball coach, Donna Newberry, on the autobiography, You Must Play to Win. Her latest publication of poetry– Sketches at the Naesti Bar – impressively places the reader alongside her during recent visits to Iceland.”

Dr. Varley joined the faculty in 2000. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Idaho and her doctoral degree from the University of North Dakota. \The Cora I. Orr Faculty Service Award was bestowed upon Professor of Music Dr. Joyce Alesandrini.  It is named in honor of a Muskingum faculty member and administrator who served the university with devotion and distinction for four decades.

Of Dr. Alesandrini’s achievements at the university, Dr. Callaghan said, “Dr. Alesandrini embodies the essence of collegiality, possesses an inspiring ability to lead from within, as a team player, while also providing tremendous service to the institution as a whole.  In 2009, she took on the task of chair of the Music Department, successfully orchestrating the move of the department into the new Otto and Fran Walter Hall and overseeing the building’s dedication.”

Dr. Alesandrini joined the faculty in 1990.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, her master’s degree from Northwestern University and her doctoral degree from The Ohio State University.

IN THE PHOTO: From left to right:  Dr. Jane Varley, Dr. James Callaghan, Dr. Bil Kerrigan and Dr. Joyce Alesandrini.