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K-State Today

July 10, 2020

English department honors faculty with awards

Submitted by Karin Westman

The Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences recognizes two faculty members with awards.

Ania Payne, instructor of English and professional writing, has received the department's annual Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Payne teaches courses in professional writing that are often required for students completing pre-professional degrees. As she explains in her statement of teaching philosophy, "Many enter these mandatory courses with a sense of dread, but I enjoy the challenge of immersing a group of reluctant writers into what they often discover to be a surprisingly invigorating and reflective classroom environment."

Payne's goal, in her words, is "to at least light a spark that will motivate my students to continue being avid readers and writers who will remember the pleasure of writing and discussing in my class, even if they initially came to it just to complete a requirement."

In addition to having students complete memos, positive and negative letters, infographics, and final reports, Payne incorporates service-learning projects for local businesses and nonprofit organizations to help students appreciate and practice skills in audience analysis, document design and communication. Student comments on evaluations and peer observations of Payne's teaching document her award-winning success with her students.

Anne Phillips, professor of English and children's literature, has received the Donnelly Faculty Award in English for 2020-2022.

The award, created by donors Michelle Munson and Serban Simu, Berkeley, California, honors English professor emeritus Michael Donnelly and the impact he had on numerous students. Munson graduated from K-State in 1996 with degrees in physics and electrical engineering. An English class taught by Michael Donnelly greatly influenced her, leading to this gift.

The Donnelly award is given to an outstanding faculty member in the English department in recognition of their contributions to teaching, research/creative activity and service. Each recipient holds the award for two years. A new recipient is named each year, allowing the award to be held by two faculty members at a time. An interdisciplinary committee of faculty and alumni, including Donnelly himself, select each year's recipient.

Phillips joins five previous winners of the Donnelly Award: Greg Eiselein, 2015-2017; Don Hedrick, 2016-2018; Elizabeth Dodd, 2017-2019; Michele Janette, 2018-2020; and Phillip Marzluf, 2019-2021.

In her letter of application for the award, Phillips explains, "It fills me with joy when students who do not initially consider themselves readers emerge from my course not only having read every assigned text (sometimes as many as 14 books, many of them substantial novels), but also with a revised perception of their own intellectual abilities."

In addition to her excellence in teaching and advising, Phillips has published four co-authored or co-edited books and authored or co-authored 17 peer-reviewed articles or chapters. Notable service includes 20 years as associate department head of English — since 2000 — and five years as associate editor of the journal Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 2009-2014, in addition to serving as president of the Children's Literature Association, 2005-2006.

The 2020-2022 Donnelly Award follows on earlier recognitions for Phillips, including Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1997; the College of Education's honor society, Kappa Delta Pi, Teacher of the Year in 2005; the university's Presidential Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Advising in 2010); and the College of Arts and Sciences' inaugural Ron Gaches Lifetime Teaching Award in 2016.

As Phillip concludes, "Many of my former students are teaching in classrooms across the country and across the world. I had no idea prior to completing my doctorate in 1993 that I would have such an opportunity to be involved in the lives of so many amazing people, and I didn't know that I would have such a rewarding life in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas."

For more information about the Department of English, visit the department's website, social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the department's blog.