Professors Struthers, Kensky and Heller receive special recognition at Coe commencement ceremony

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2013-05-16 09:43:11 - General

Several members of the Coe community received special recognition at the college's commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 12. Coe English Professor Ann Struthers received the Eliza Hickok Kesler Outstanding Service Award, while Religion Professor Meira Kensky was honored with the Lynch Award for outstanding teaching. In addition, Howard Hall Professor of English Terry Heller was granted emeritus status following 38 years of teaching at Coe.

Eliza Hickok Kesler Outstanding Service Award

Ann Struthers,
National Fellowship Advisor

Ann Struthers, who served as an English Professor and Writer in Residence for 27 years, and continues to work as the college's national fellowship advisor, was this year's Eliza Hickok Kesler Outstanding Service Award winner. Dr. Struthers has had a distinguished career as a classroom teacher, poet and mentor to the college's Fulbright Scholars.

She is the author of two chapbooks and two collections of poetry. Struthers has published numerous book reviews, articles in literature reference books, academic essays and short fiction. She was a Fulbright Fellow in Syria and in Sri Lanka, and is the faculty advisor for students and faculty who apply for Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Rhodes and Marshall Fellowships.

"Ann Struthers has the intellectual quality of a first-rate mind combined with vibrancy, energy and goodwill. Devoted to her students and colleagues, she has been part of the foundation upon which her department has rested," said Coe President James Phifer. "Perhaps her most notable trait is that in both her writing and her teaching she displays prodigious talents and creativity. She both understands and can create beauty of expression through her poetry, and she is able to lead others to enlarge their own understanding and talents. She has also come to play a remarkably successful role in mentoring and guiding our best students in earning recognition as Fulbright Scholars."

The Eliza Hickok Kesler Outstanding Service Award is given most years, but not every year, at Coe's graduation. It was created in 1999 for the purpose of honoring superior, long-term service to Coe - service that advances the purposes and mission of the institution. Faculty, staff, alumni and trustees are all eligible.  This award is named for Eliza Hickok Kesler, class of 1931, known to generations of the Coe family as Roby, whose lifetime of distinguished service to the college is unparalleled.

Charles J. Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award

Meira Kensky,
Assistant Professor of Religion

As selected by the Coe College class of 2013, the Charles J. Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award was granted to Assistant Professor of Religion Meira Kensky. Presented by Chair of the Board of Trustees Dave Carson '72, the award was established at Coe in 1983. It is presented annually at commencement and consists of a $2,000 prize made possible by an endowment gift.

Kensky earned her bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College, and her master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She has taught in the Coe Philosophy and Religion Department since 2009.

Kensky's research interests lie in the very rich field of biblical studies, particularly in the New Testament and early Jewish and Christian literature. Her first book, "Trying Man, Trying God: The Divine Courtroom in Early Jewish and Christian Literature," examines scenes of God holding trial in Jewish and Christian literature from antiquity. She teaches courses across the wide spectrum of Western religions, from their origins to their manifestations in the contemporary world.

Members of the class of 2013 were invited by Coe President James Phifer to nominate a member of the faculty for this award. In doing so they were asked to give careful consideration to three criteria: quality of teaching; concern for students as individuals; and scholarship.

The Charles J. Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award memorializes the values and service of C.J. Lynch, an alumnus of Coe College, class of 1926. Lynch was a prominent Cedar Rapids attorney whose dedication to Coe College was reflected, among other ways, by 43 years of service on the board of trustees of the college.  Above all things, C.J. Lynch valued inspirational teaching and sound scholarship.

Emeritus status for Professor Terry Heller

Terry Heller,
Professor Emeritus of English

Howard Hall Professor of English Terry Heller was granted emeritus status during the commencement ceremony. He retired this spring following a distinguished teaching career at Coe that began in 1975. Dr. Heller is author of "The Delights of Terror" and "The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision," and editor of Sarah Orne Jewett's "The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Fiction." He has written reference articles, short fiction, and literary journal essays. He is the manager of the online archive, the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project.

"Professor Heller has been a devoted classroom instructor, an equally devoted advisor, and a wise mentor for generations of Coe students. He has also compiled a body of published work that is impressive both for its volume and its quality," said Phifer. "He is one of the most published scholars at this school. Beyond his distinguished achievements as a teacher and scholar, Terry has been a humane and steadying influence as a colleague and friend, not only to members of his department but to the larger Coe community. Always, his is a voice of calmness, learning, and good will."