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Mamary’s philosophy on service leads to Hatch Award

Barry McNamara
03/19/2020
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College annually presents Hatch Academic Excellence Awards in three main areas, and that makes sense to philosophy professor Anne Mamary.

“Teaching is A-No. 1,” she said of one of the three Hatch Award categories, “but service and scholarship are required of all of us, too.”

It was announced at the March faculty meeting that Mamary was this year’s recipient of the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service. Although the 16-year veteran of Monmouth’s faculty typically shuns the spotlight, she accepted the honor with some heartfelt praise for her roomful of colleagues.

“At the faculty meeting, I said that it was wonderful to have such a good team here, and I mean that,” she said. “It’s not just one person carrying all the weight. We really have a hard-working team at Monmouth.”

Mamary does her share of the lifting by chairing the Personnel Committee, as well as co-organizing the annual Samuel M. Thompson Memorial Lecture series, coordinating the annual Thompson essay contest in the humanities, and assisting with the College’s Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research. She also hosts a weekly philosophy-based gathering – formerly called the Sam Thompson Society – that now meets over the noon hour and has changed its name to the Meaning of Life Lunch.

“We joke that all we need to do is add a colon – the meaning of life: lunch,” she said. “We just enjoy being together. It’s about sharing food and food for thought.”

Serving on committees

Mamary said her committee work helps her fulfill a personal philosophy.

“I take faculty governance really seriously,” she said. “If we want faculty to run the show, then faculty has to step up and run the show.”

Although Personnel Committee work makes some apprehensive, Mamary said it’s an important tool for the faculty.

“When people are asked to be a part of the Personnel Committee, some will say ‘I don’t want to have to judge people.’ But the work that’s done on that committee is so important. None of us wants to judge people; my experience is that the committee wants to develop a team of excellent teachers. They have the good of the institution, the good of their colleagues, and the good of the students in mind, helping faculty members to be the best possible teachers, the best possible scholars they can be.”

It’s not only the faculty members being reviewed who benefit.

“It’s good for those who serve on the committee, too,” she said. “We have to observe how others teach, and we get good ideas from those who are under review. Seeing some of those new ideas gets the people serving on the committee revved up about teaching, and our colleagues under review sometimes observe that the process is collaborative. It’s about community building, and it’s also about the faculty having a say about how the College runs.”

Serving on special projects

Her nominator for the Hatch Award summarized Mamary’s service to the College:

“Whether she is serving on any of the myriad search committees she has improved, spending the extra time helping her students explore their learning and vocation, or reviewing submissions and overseeing editors on the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, she brings her considerable intelligence, and generous sense of humor, to the tasks.”

“What a wonderful team of people,” said Mamary of her work with the students who publish MJUR. “To be involved with MJUR is such a privilege. The student editors are smart, dedicated and earnest. How many students get to have that type of experience, working on a scholarly journal? Not many.”

She also calls it a privilege to bring in leading contemporary philosophers for the Thompson Lecture, which was first held during the 1989-90 academic year, a half-dozen years after legendary Monmouth graduate and philosophy professor Sam Thompson died. Mamary has overseen roughly half of the lectures since joining the faculty in 2004.

“To have daughters find a way to remember their father like that is really special,” she said of the endowed series. “We’ve had an impressive lineup of speakers throughout the years, and a lot of them are still active in the field,” including several she included on her syllabus for her most recent “Contemporary Philosophy” class.

Serving her students

Her nominator also wrote: “She relishes working with seniors on theses and projects that they care about and can invest themselves in. Often Anne has been an ally and champion to marginalized students. Anne loves her students.”

Mamary said she especially enjoyed working closely with a group of 2018 graduates from the philosophy and religious studies majors, as well as the new peace, ethics and social justice minor.

“My colleagues and I worked with them on writing a thesis, showing them that there’s not just one way of writing a good article. Students often want to know what template they need to use to get an ‘A,’ but I’m not doing that. We showed them that are 25 different ways to do it.”

Mamary said the instruction with the 11 students “became a writing group, and it was so rewarding for me to see them go from first draft to final thesis. All five faculty members involved became part of the group. Students read essays by all five current and recent members of the department, and we talked about revising and writing strategies.” The seminar produced a 260-page collection of student theses.