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Faculty members Kessler, Kuppinger and Witzig receive Hatch Awards

Barry McNamara
On Scholars Day, Petra Kuppinger received the Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship during Monmouth College’s Honors Convocation. Faculty members Fred Witzig and Judi Kessler, co-recipients of the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service, are pictured in front of the MJUR office.
Three Monmouth College faculty members were recently honored with Hatch Awards for Academic Excellence.

Anthropology Professor Petra Kuppinger received the Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship at the College’s Honors Convocation in April.

Earlier in the month, Professor Judi Kessler (sociology) and Associate Professor Fred Witzig (history) received the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service for their work with the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research. MJUR was also a co-sponsor of the College’s inaugural Conference of Undergraduate Research & Scholarship.

This is Kuppinger’s second Hatch Award for scholarship, as she also received the honor in 2009.

Since 2009, Kuppinger has published Faithfully Urban: Pious Muslims in a German City (2015). One of the reviewers of her book wrote, “Through remarkably careful and rich ethnography, the author shows how Muslims are part and parcel of urban life in Stuttgart, and how they transform the city and are transformed by the urban life there."

Along with the well-received book, Kuppinger has published 11 articles in peer-reviewed journals and seven book chapters and other scholarly articles. She’s also given 21 presentations at conferences since 2010.

“This is an extremely impressive record for anyone, but given our teaching and service responsibilities, this level of achievement is truly outstanding,” wrote her nominating colleague. “Professor Kuppinger has achieved this level of success because she has a passion for scholarship. All you have to do to taste that passion is to ask what she is currently working on. Her eyes brighten and she gives one not only the detail of what project she is working on but also how it is relevant to the broader theoretical frameworks.”

Because she has an international reputation in her field, Kuppinger is asked to review dozens of articles for peer-reviewed journals and book proposals for publishers such as Rutgers University Press and Syracuse University Press. She’s also been asked to be an external reviewer for tenure at three colleges and universities and serves on the dissertation committees at two others.

She has been an editor for the journal City and Society, co-editor for Urban Life and program chair for the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology (SUNTA). From 2014-16, she served as SUNTA’s president.

Kuppinger joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2000, the same year she completed her Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research. She has a master’s degree from American University in Cairo, and did her undergraduate work in Germany.

In addition to receiving their Hatch Awards in April, Kessler and Witzig also saw the results of the countless hours they invested in the conference and the journal. The conference, which had nearly 100 attendees from 11 states, was held April 21-22, the same week that the latest edition of MJUR was distributed.

“Professors Kessler and Witzig have led a multi-year effort that included many additional faculty members and students to bring the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research to the strong place it now stands, both on our campus and across the country,” said Dean of the Faculty David Timmerman. “The benefits to our students include important intellectual skills and practical skills.”

“It is a publication that makes Monmouth College proud,” wrote their nominator of MJUR. “It also increases the reputation of Monmouth Colleges with faculty members and administrators from other institutions. ... It is refreshing to see Monmouth College emphasizing here and elsewhere that scholarship is alive and well on our campus.”

Kessler has served on the faculty since 2001, while Witzig began teaching at Monmouth in 2009. Both completed their undergraduate work at California State University. Kessler also completed her master’s degree there and earned her Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Barbara. Witzig completed his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Indiana University.

Funded by the late 1957 Monmouth graduate W. Jerome Hatch, a retired executive for American National Can, the Hatch Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding work by Monmouth faculty in the areas of teaching and service, in addition to scholarship.