Faculty earn top teaching awards
Three McDaniel professors have earned awards for their dedication to teaching and scholarship, awarded at McDaniel's 152nd Commencement ceremony. The awards are: the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant, and the Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
Three McDaniel professors have earned awards for their dedication to teaching and scholarship. The chosen professors were honored at the 152nd Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 21, 2022. The awards are: the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant, and the Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
2022 Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award
The Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes inspired classroom work and dedication to students. Established in 1995 through the generosity of Charles E. Moore Jr. ’71 and Carol Hoerichs Moore ’70, the award memorializes the beloved faculty member Ira G. Zepp, who taught in the Department of Religious Studies until his retirement in 1994.
Linda L. Semu, professor of Sociology, has demonstrated exceptional innovation and enthusiasm in her pedagogy and scholarship, earning her the 2022 Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award. In her 16 years at McDaniel, she has inspired students to engage with their sociological imagination, the foundational principle in Sociology that facilitates the objective study of society and social phenomena. She has cultivated enduring curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning in her students.
In the spirit of the liberal arts, Semu founded the Urban and Community Studies minor, which explores intersections of society and race. Semu has taught a variety of courses in Sociology, such as Food, Culture, and Society; Global Social Change; and Love and Marriage. Her students have explored global perspectives in her First Year Seminar courses and independent studies. Many of her students have gone on to pursue international studies, become Fulbright Scholars, publish research, and attend prestigious graduate programs.
The assignments in Semu’s courses are aimed at getting students out of their comfort zone to gain an appreciation for other cultures, as students did in her Global Social Change course, when they analyzed where the clothing in their personal closets was manufactured; or in Food, Culture, and Society, when they examined their experiences visiting establishments with different cultural fares. Her commitment to students extends to her advisory role with campus groups like Africa’s Legacy, Heroes Helping Hopkins, and Alpha Kappa Delta. She was also inducted into McDaniel’s chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society as a 2009 honorary member for her impact in helping students in their first year.
In 2021, Semu was recognized as a Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellow. The year before, in 2020, Semu earned the Special Achievement Award for her voluntary service in founding and leading the Malawi Washington Foundation and the Malawi Diaspora Network.
Before arriving at McDaniel, Semu earned her Bachelor of Social Science from the University of Malawi, her M.A. in Sociology from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights of Women from World University Service in Vienna, Austria, and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University Bloomington. She began teaching at McDaniel in 2005 and is now a professor and coordinator for the programs in Africana Studies and Urban and Community Studies. Widely published, her research addresses topics in gender, public health, race, orphans and vulnerable youth, food security, and land rights.
She has received McDaniel College Faculty Development Grants for five years, and in 2006 Semu was recognized with the McDaniel College Faculty Book Award for the publication of her book “Nkhanza, Listening to People’s Voices. A Study of Gender-Based Violence in Malawi,” co-authored with M. Saur and S. Hauya-Ndau. For her ongoing commitment to excellence as an educator and scholar, Semu is the 2022 Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teacher.
The Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant
The Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant encourages a significant project designed to enhance teaching. The award favors, but is not limited to, faculty in the first decade of service at McDaniel College and is designed to demonstrate the college’s ultimate commitment to the classroom as our most important function.
The Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant recipient for 2022 is Gretchen McKay. McKay, who came to McDaniel in 2001, is currently a professor in the History department. She was awarded the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award from McDaniel in 2015 and was a Charles A. Boehlke, Jr. Engaged Faculty Fellow from 2019-2021. In addition, she serves as the faculty mentor for the Green Terror football team.
McKay’s proposed project centers around the theme of experiential learning in curriculum design and its applicability and translation into career readiness for students.
She will first participate in the semester-long Curriculum-to-Career Innovations Institute presented by the American Association of Colleges and Universities during Fall 2022. Then, she plans to introduce virtual reality capability into her courses, which would allow students to have immersive experiences with far-away museums, such as the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Not only will students have the chance to experience virtual reality in this context, but they will also create a digital and virtual exhibition in order to experience how the future of art and art history will take place in a digital environment.
Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence
The Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes an outstanding adjunct faculty member at the graduate or undergraduate level whose teaching demonstrates a commitment to excellence and genuine care for their students. This award was established in 2018 through the generosity of Dr. Barbara P. Shelton ’70 and Dr. Gordon B. Shelton ’68.
Brenda J. Conley, adjunct professor in Education, has provided significant support to McDaniel Education majors and minors while they pursue enriching internships in teaching. For her efforts in experiential learning, Conley is the recipient of the 2022 Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
Conley’s time at McDaniel has been defined by her willingness to go above and beyond in assisting students with gaining off-campus experience, particularly in diverse communities. Under her guidance, generations of McDaniel educators have graduated with the skills they need to serve any community.
For over 10 years, Conley has taught the Jan Term course Internship in an Ethnically Diverse Setting, which places Education majors in schools with diverse populations for a 75-hour internship. Since students can select a school anywhere in the U.S., Conley has coordinated internships on a national scale, building enduring relationships between McDaniel and schools across the country.
In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted internship placements for many students, so to make up for the loss, Conley designed an entirely new virtual course that featured visits from working educators. Thanks to Conley’s innovation, her students gained valuable skills despite the loss of internships.
Prior to joining McDaniel in 2011, she taught courses in instructional leadership and professional development at Towson University; developed educational programs and projects at what is now University of Maryland Global Campus and Johns Hopkins University; and worked for 29 years as a teacher and administrator in Baltimore City Public Schools.
Conley’s dedication to placing McDaniel Education students into professional experiences that support their adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and teaching skills has earned her the 2022 Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.