Barry McNamara  |  Published April 06, 2023

Excellence in Classics

Professor Bob Simmons, student Megan Dailey ’25 bring home prestigious honors from annual CAMWS meeting.

AWARD WINNERS: Professor Bob Simmons and Megan Dailey '25 received prestigious honors at the ... AWARD WINNERS: Professor Bob Simmons and Megan Dailey '25 received prestigious honors at the recent annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A Monmouth College professor and student brought home once-in-a-lifetime and first-in-a-lifetime awards from the annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, held March 29-April 1 in Provo, Utah.

At the conference, which hosted a 1,500-member group of classics teachers and students from hundreds of schools in 35 states and much of Canada, classics professor Bob Simmons received the award for Outstanding Teaching at the College/University Level, which he called “a once-in-a-career award.”

Megan Dailey ’25 was awarded one of six Manson A. Stewart Awards, a distinction for excellence in undergraduate classics. The award “typically goes to students from a ‘who’s who’ of vibrant classics programs around the nation,” said Simmons, who serves as vice president of the Lake Michigan Region for CAMWS, the nation’s second-largest classics organization.

A classics and social science education major from Pendleton, Indiana, Dailey joins two previous winners from Monmouth in the past decade – Emma Vanderpool ’17 and Daniel Hintzke ’18.

“Megan’s excellence in classics is widespread,” said Simmons. “First of all, she has been here only two years, but in those years she has shown a notable commitment to the subject,” taking 8.75 credits of Latin, Greek or classics, as well as auditing a half-credit course.

“She has absolutely excelled in everything she has done in this subject. There are only A’s in her work in classics, and she is exceptionally energetic in her preparations for and participation in every course – she wants to learn and have the best experience possible in her classes, not just get through them.” Bob Simmons


“Second,” said Simmons, “she has absolutely excelled in everything she has done in this subject. There are only A’s in her work in classics, and she is exceptionally energetic in her preparations for and participation in every course – she wants to learn and have the best experience possible in her classes, not just get through them.”

Simmons called Dailey’s level of energy and leadership “phenomenal.”

“She has been critical to all of the events we do that make classics lively,” he said. “She played a big part in last year’s Classics Day and an even bigger part in this year’s Eta Sigma Phi national meeting,” as well as lending her efforts to less comprehensive events.

“Through all of these actions, her passion for the subject has been magnetic to many other students, who have found their own passions for classics as well, inspired by her enthusiasm,” said Simmons, who joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2014 and chairs the classics department.


Praise for Simmons, too

The CAMWS award committee received several testimonials from some of Simmons’ colleagues and students.

“Professor Simmons greets every single student by name at each class meeting, engaging students in classes of all sizes,” reads his formal citation for the award. “He is the professor whose door is quite literally always open, who invites students to his home for end-of-year picnics. … Managing classics almost single-handedly, Professor Simmons has taught 48 different courses at Monmouth, courses that are innovative and meaningful to reflect modern times, and courses highlighting voices of gender and sexuality.

“He always has done more than his share, innovating to keep classics an engaged and lively department,” wrote one of his recommenders for the award. Another wrote: “He tries to relate ancient texts to the present in interesting ways, having his students consider Martial’s poetry to tweets or acknowledging how a republic can face threats through the study of the Catilinarian conspiracy. Using such themes as focal points really seems to help connect students to the material.”

“His passion is contagious, his knowledge about his favorite areas of study is endless, and his kindness for his students and love for the classics is truly boundless.” Student Nominator


All of his recommenders noted Simmons’ dedication to classics outside of the traditional academic setting, and many lauded Monmouth’s annual Classics Day as a vibrant and important event for his students, the College and the community.

According to Simmons’ students, “his passion is contagious, his knowledge about his favorite areas of study is endless, and his kindness for his students and love for the classics is truly boundless.” One former student noted: “I am deeply grateful for the care, honesty and insight he provided regarding graduate school and career expectations in classical studies. Despite his incredibly full plate, Dr. Simmons even attended a couple of non-classics presentations I made.”

In summary, one of his recommenders wrote: “Good teaching is something he has thought long and hard about, and it is his thoughtful approach to it that makes him worthy of this award.”


A leader in classics

In addition to his executive role with CAMWS, Simmons is president of the Illinois Classical Conference, the state’s main classics organization. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Eta Sigma Phi, the national undergraduate classics honors society. The weekend prior to the CAMWS conference, Simmons was heavily involved in Monmouth hosting the national Eta Sigma Phi conference, due, in part, to Dailey volunteering the College for that role a year ago.

This summer, Simmons and Olivia Matlock ’22 – who teaches Latin, English and science at St. Regis Academy in Kansas City – will offer a three-hour workshop at the annual meeting of the American Classical League, the nation’s largest classics organization focusing on pedagogy. The title of the workshop is “Classics Alive and Connected: Co-Curricular Activities Across Disciplines and Throughout the Calendar.”

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