English professor wins prestigious teaching award

May 04, 2010

Associate Professor of English Robert M. Kachur received the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award for inspired classroom work and dedication to students May 2 at McDaniel College’s Honors Convocation. The award provides a $5,000 honorarium for the faculty recipient and a matching fund for ongoing professional and scholarly development.

“I can think of no job more wonderful than reading literature alongside students, looking for revelations about the world and ourselves. And I can think of no greater honor than winning a Teaching Award named after Ira Zepp, who knew that each classroom encounter was unique and potentially transformative — for the students, and for the professor,” said Kachur.

In 1998, Kachur was invited to join the English Department at McDaniel where he regularly teaches British Enlightenment and Romantic literature that draw heavily from philosophy. He also has taught courses on literary giants ranging from Wordsworth to Keats to Coleridge and Blake. Kachur has taken his students on the road in a 2009 Jan Term to lurk about England’s Whitby Abbey, to spy on the Romanian hometown of Vlad the Impaler and to retrace the steps of Dracula as depicted in Bram Stoker’s classics.

More recently, Kachur’s new course on Major Figures focusing on Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction, poetry and non-fiction prose has led to a revelatory interpretation on sexual themes. Kachur and two undergraduates will research the work this summer with the goal of completing an article for publication.

Kachur has published essays in a variety of scholarly books and literary journals and in 1999, he received the Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant to draft a composition textbook designed to help students improve their writing by drawing on their knowledge of the dynamics of everyday conversation.

His students regularly praise his knowledge, his dedication, his engagement, and his humanity and cite how they become “better writers” as a result of Kachur’s caring instruction. In the words of one senior, “[He] is able to take prose and reveal meanings in it that force students to think in an entirely new way about the topic and the time period, and do so with humor and a light heart.”

Kachur’s doctoral dissertation on apocalyptic imagery in British literature earned him a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where in 1995 he was one of six graduate assistants recognized for distinguished teaching. He also earned an M.A. degree in English literature at Madison and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.