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New named professor

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Outstanding faculty

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Four English Department members honored for excellence

Four faculty members in the Department of English have received this year’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) awards for outstanding achievement.

The 2020-21 awards were given to Christine Cucciarre, professor of English, for excellence in service; McKay Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Professor of English, excellence in scholarship; Devon Miller-Duggan, assistant professor of English, excellence in teaching; and Miranda Wilson, associate professor of English, excellence in advisement.

They are among nine faculty award recipients selected throughout the College in a variety of categories. CAS Dean John A. Pelesko recently surprised each of the honorees with an in-person or virtual visit during a class or event to announce and present the award.

Following are more details about the recipients and the tributes Pelesko offered.

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Christine Cucciarre, excellence in service

Christine Cucciarre

​Christine Cucciarre

Christine Cucciarre is director of composition in the Department of English, chair of the University Faculty Senate’s General Education Committee and a member of several other task forces and committees within UD and the College of Arts and Sciences. In all her services duties, she looks for ways to make connections involving students, faculty, initiatives and departments.

Cucciarre is an active collaborator with the Center for Teaching and Learning and also provides service at the state and local community levels. She has been a promotion dossier reviewer for the departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice and of Women and Gender Studies, a Fulbright faculty mentor, an interim vice president of the American Association of University Professors Executive Council and a steering committee member for the Continuing Track Faculty Caucus.

She has won praise for her ability to take a bird’s-eye view of large systems and to facilitate connections between their components.

“Here at UD, that has meant cultivating relationships with other offices in order to produce fruitful collaborations,” said Délice Williams, the English Department’s associate director of composition. “This ability extends to her work outside the University as well: In all of her service duties, she looks for ways to make connections—between students and instructors, between junior and senior faculty, between University initiatives, between departments and divisions.”

Cucciarre has said she sees service as “essential for feeling connected to all of the University,” including faculty, students and staff.

“As a teacher of writing, working and having relationships with people, departments and units across campus is the most effective way to do what is important to me: spreading the message of the importance of writing in every class,” she said.

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McKay Jenkins, excellence in scholarship

McKay Jenkins

​McKay Jenkins

McKay Jenkins, who has developed such interdisciplinary programs as the environmental humanities minor, has a “prolific and prestigious record of publication” that includes not only articles in academic journals but also articles and books on a wide range of topics that have broad public appeal. He approaches scholarship with a sense of mission on environmental practices.

To address this mission, he has established interdisciplinary networks at UD and beyond, and he has mentored and encouraged younger scholars in the field of environmental humanities, helping them find ways to be more productive and effective. In addition to developing programs, he has worked with established programs such as the Delaware Environmental Institute.

Over the past two decades, his books have covered a variety of important issues and include The South in Black and White: Race, Sex and Literature in the 1940s; The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and the Assault on Hitler’s Europe; Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA; and What Has Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World.

“I try whenever possible to use my research and writing to inform my teaching, and vice versa,” Jenkins said. “For example, I’m spending a lot of time in class these days discussing the origins of North American environmental degradation and human degradation, in the form of genocide and land theft from Indigenous communities and slavery and Jim Crow. But I’m also bringing my students along to work on long-term ecological restoration projects, working in Delaware with the Lenape community and in Baltimore with an African American community.

“The idea here is that we study the damaging and depressing practices of the past and then embark seriously in the hopeful work of ecological restoration and community engagement.”

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Devon Miller-Duggan, excellence in teaching

Devon Miller-Duggan

​Devon Miller-Duggan

Devon Miller-Duggan has taught at UD for 40 years, most of them as an adjunct faculty member. Her teaching focus is on creative writing, a subject that requires devotion to the craft and to developing each student’s individual skills.

Her priority is to make the classroom inclusive and a safe place to share ideas, critiques and points of view, and she has established herself as a faculty member who cares deeply about her students and fostering an environment where they not only learn but thrive.

With a teaching style that has been described as “deeply engaging and effective,” students respond powerfully and positively to her. Her teaching is focused not only on the craft of writing but also on important issues of our time and giving voice to those issues.

Miller-Duggan says she tries to teach classes she would want to take and to remember her own favorite teachers.

“My teaching philosophy is tied up with my rather old-fashioned ideas about the purpose of a university education, which is that we are not in the business of training young adults for careers, rather that we are in the business of training them to approach life with a complex, nuanced, intelligent approach to being humans and acting humanely in the world,” she said.

“While that is the ground from which I start, I am acutely aware that I am taking me, not some idealized ‘Professor’ into the classroom, and that I am a ditzy, anti-authoritarian mix of old-fashioned standards and practices and carefully change-informed openness to meeting my students where they are. I have liked every generation I've taught and continue to rejoice in the company of young adults. It's a stage of life that has never lost its fascination for me.”

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Miranda Wilson, excellence in advisement

Miranda Wilson

​Miranda Wilson

Miranda Wilson is associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English, where she has made a profound and lasting impact on the culture of advisement. She has used her prolific mentoring and advisement experience to develop new plans for connecting students with the advisers who can best help them.

Wilson is known for fostering a culture of service to help undergraduate students orient themselves to the English major. She understands the importance of connecting students with department advisers who can assist them in envisioning the many opportunities their English degree will offer them.

Among her numerous accomplishments, she has taken a special interest in students coming from the Associate in Arts Program and developed a partnership with UD’s Mobile Health Initiative. She has also established the Future Blue Hen Teaching Award and has been instrumental in helping students who qualify for the Phi Beta Kappa honor society but cannot afford the associated fees.

Wilson’s colleagues described her “steadfast commitment to advisement” and outreach and her work to ensure that students have access to a diverse curriculum. She is a tireless advocate for the English Department’s internship program and promotes opportunities for students to participate in undergraduate research and other key programs.

“UD is a big place, with many opportunities for our students. But since there’s so much here, it’s easy for people to get lost,” she said.” I want to help students see the possibilities that are already here for them – all the ways they become leaders, artists, researchers, teachers and people who can change the world. I also love creating new ways for our students to thrive and getting them the institutional support they need and deserve.”

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About the awards

The honorees were selected by the college’s Faculty Awards Committee, chaired by John Jungck, professor of biological sciences, with members Richard Cunningham, professor of theatre; Jennifer Lobasz, associate professor of political science and international relations; and Brenda Shaffer, instructor in fashion and apparel studies.

To read more about all the award winners, see this article.

Article by College of Arts and Sciences communications staff

Published Oct. 29, 2021

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