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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
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.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
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.
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
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.
she tries to teach classes she would want to take and to remember her own
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.”
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
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.
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.”
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
To read more about
all the award winners, see this article.
Article by College
of Arts and Sciences communications staff
Published Oct. 29,