The recipients of two of the three 2012 Hatch Academic Excellence Awards at Monmouth College have been named.
Professor Mike Connell, chair of the department of political economy and commerce, received the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service at the May faculty meeting. History professor Stacy Cordery received the Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Research during Scholars Day activities on campus last month.
Funded by 1957 graduate W. Jerome Hatch, a retired executive for American National Can, the Hatch Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding work by MC faculty in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. Through cash stipends, they honor faculty who have excelled in their academic disciplines and who have served as an inspiration to both their students and their colleagues.
Criteria for the Distinguished Scholarship and Research Award include: participating in faculty-student research projects leading to publication; pedagogical research to improve classroom teaching; creative activity that explains the research; and traditional research in peer-reviewed journals.
Cordery can certainly lay claim to being published, as her most recent book, a major biography of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, was released in February, just in time for the centennial celebration of the organization on March 12.
In a letter to Cordery, the Hatch Award Committee commended her “published work, reviews, newspaper articles and other materials. … We were immensely impressed with the scope, quality, quantity and also broad reach of your scholarship. As members of the Monmouth College faculty, we are particularly pleased and honored to see the public and media attention that your excellent works brings to the college.”
Cordery, who began teaching at Monmouth in 1994, explained the thought process behind her latest work.
“After I finished ‘Alice’ (Cordery’s best-selling biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, which was a New York Times Notable Book), my editor asked, ‘What can we do next?’ I gave her three ideas. One of the topics was ‘Daisy’ Low. This was in early 2008, and the stipulation was that the book had to be completed before the centennial.”
In its review of the biography, the Library Journal wrote: “Cordery paints a vivid portrait of the woman who, despite physical challenges, romantic disappointment, and having no children of her own, founded the largest educational organization in the world for girls.”
The biography has been named one of Christian Science Monitor’s 20 non-fiction books to watch for in 2012 and was on USA Today’s list of “This Winter’s Biggest Books.”
“I am thrilled for Stacy with the publication of her book on Juliette Gordon Low and the fantastic national reception it has received,” said David Timmerman, dean of the faculty. “I was able to attend her presentation and book signing here in Monmouth, and all the chairs were filled and the response was extremely positive and appreciative.”
The Hatch Award for Distinguished Service is awarded to “individuals and groups that do especially noteworthy work for the institution.” In addition to chairing one of the college’s largest departments with “competence and grace,” Connell has a lengthy docket of advisees and supervises a half dozen internships every year in addition to teaching some of the largest classes on campus.
Widely respected for his wise counsel, Connell has frequently been tapped to serve on search committees and strategic planning intiatives during his 19 years on campus. He was part of the original Curriculum Review Task Force and has chaired Faculty Senate. More recently, Connell was part of the 4-4 transition committee and was responsible for the detailed “transition rules,” taking into careful consideration how the transition would affect current students.
For more than a dozen years, Connell has served as the college’s NCAA faculty athletic representative, a time-consuming responsibility. As his nominator noted, “Whenever there is a problem, he is the ‘go to’ guy to work on it and to explain the situation and the proposed resolutions to the various college publics, to the conference officials and the representatives from the member colleges.”
Connell is also involved in the wider community, including many years of service on the boards of the Warren Achievement Center and the local hospital. In addition, he has been involved with a new initiative to develop a Monmouth Innovation Center, a joint venture between the college and local entrepreneurs.
“Mike Connell is a tireless worker with a deep commitment to Monmouth,” said Timmerman. “I particularly enjoyed working with him last summer with a faculty committee that researched and constructed a proposal for our new 4-4 curriculum. He is a clear thinker who is able to express his thoughts clearly, concisely and cogently.”
Monmouth College will announce the recipient of the Hatch Award for Distinguished Teaching at the President’s Homecoming Gala on Oct. 12. Nominations for that award are solicited exclusively from alumni.