Faculty excellence celebrated at Linfield with award ceremony

Linfield College bannerLinfield College’s faculty awards were presented at a May 19 ceremony honoring five professors for scholarly achievement, excellence in the classroom, international scholarship, creative achievement and exceptional impact on the life of the college.

Recipients were Steve Bernhisel, associate professor of education, who earned the Edith Green Distinguished Professor Award; Joe Wilkins, associate professor of English, who received the Julie Olds and Thomas Hellie Creative Achievement Award; Barbara Seidman, professor of English and department chair, who earned the Samuel H. Graf Faculty Achievement Award; John Sagers, professor of history and department chair, who received the Marvin and Laurie Henberg International Scholar Award; and Chris Keaveney, professor of Japanese and department co-chair, who earned the Allen and Pat Kelley Faculty Scholar Award.

Bernhisel received the Edith Green Distinguished Professor Award, recognizing a senior faculty member who has worked creatively to enhance Linfield’s commitment to academic excellence through their dedication to the intellectual growth and academic success of students within and beyond the classroom. Bernhisel, at Linfield since 1999, “sets a standard for teaching to which we all aspire,” said Chris Gaiser, associate dean of faculty and professor of biology.

His teaching evaluations are strong, citing his thorough understanding and enthusiasm for elementary science education, and his ability to create genuine student involvement with the subject. Bernhisel is also an excellent advisor: he won the Colloquium Advisor of the Year Award in 2016, and in 2006, he became the only Linfield faculty member to receive an Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association.

Wilkins received the Julie Olds and Thomas Hellie Creative Achievement Award, which honors a faculty member whose outstanding creative activity has been recognized by peers and has been slated for dissemination. At the time of his nomination, Wilkins’ book When We Were Birds was under consideration for the 2017 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. It won that award in April 2017. The work has an impressive publication pedigree, as it was published by the University of Arkansas Press under the editorial guidance of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Wilkins is also the author of Far Enough: A Western in Fragments, which was awarded the High Plains Book Award for fiction. His 2012 work of creative non-fiction, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing Up on the Big Dry, earned the 2014 GLCA New Writers Award in Non-Fiction, a finalist’s spot for the 2013 Orion Book Award and its selection as a 2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book. This spring, Wilkins was awarded a contract by publisher Little, Brown and Company for two novels, both of which are awaiting revision: Others Who Were Here and And Ever These Bull Mountains. Watch Wilkins read excerpts from When We Were Birds

Seidman received the Samuel H. Graf Faculty Achievement Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has made an outstanding contribution to the life of the college that extends beyond his or her regular duties. Seidman, at Linfield since 1983, has been a pioneer in diversifying both the campus and the English department, and she has made a long-term practice of supporting the hiring, promotion and mentoring of women faculty.  She was instrumental in founding a group for female faculty, ensuring that their voices were heard. Her commitment to, and articulation of, feminist and multicultural issues — continuing to this day in her work with multicultural Canadian literatures — has made her a long-time beacon of inclusion and justice at Linfield. Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner said of Seidman that she has “dedicated herself so tirelessly, selflessly and conscientiously to improving the life of the college for so long, that it’s easy to take her contributions for granted.” He also lauded her for mentoring multiple students and advisees, leading the English department through a complete revision of its curriculum, coordinating the complicated process of drafting and approving the departmental guidelines for promotion and tenure, guiding both colleagues through the promotion and tenure process, steering students to regional and national literature conferences, and chairing two consecutive faculty searches in the English department.

John Sagers | Linfield CollegeSagers received the Marvin and Laurie Henberg International Scholar Award, which recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly activity on an international topic or theme has passed peer review and has been or is slated for publication. Sagers joined Linfield in 2001, and since that time, he has been a quiet force of scholarship on campus. He has produced multiple peer-reviewed articles and numerous presentations, such as “The Crucial Role of Entrepreneurs in the Modernization of Japan,” which Sagers was invited to give as the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Lecture at Central China Normal University, in Wuhan, China. His 2006 book, Origins of Japanese Wealth and Power: Reconciling Confucianism and Capitalism 1830-1885, was hailed as “a lucid, thought-provoking account” in reviews. Sagers’ new project, Selling Capitalism to Samurai: Shibusawa Eiichi and the Promotion of Private Enterprise in Meiji Japan, will explore the challenges of importing modern business enterprises from Europe and America to Japan, where the pursuit of profit was considered beneath the dignity of a samurai gentleman.

Keaveney received the Allen and Pat Kelley Faculty Scholar Award, which recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement. This academic year, Keaveney had one book accepted for publication while another was just coming off the press. The former, Contesting the Myths of Samurai Baseball, is a continuation of his scholarly interest in Asian culture, specifically Japanese culture and baseball. The latter is a collection of poetry, Your Eureka Not Mined. Keaveney’s forthcoming book examines the subject of Samurai baseball, which is at the heart of Japanese baseball — reconciling the American ideal of the individual versus the Japanese ideal of the team through what might be the true national sport for Japan. Keaveney plans to build on the book by exploring the concept of Samurai baseball through four films: one each from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States. As for his published book this year: the poems in Your Eureka Not Mined began to appear in literary journals three years ago, but the journey that led to this publication started 30 years ago. Keaveney’s poetry has appeared in the Columbia Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, the Minetta Review, Stolen Island, Faultline and more. Watch a video of Keaveney reading from Your Eureka Not Mined.