The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has named Dr. Melissa Walker of Converse College the 2007 South Carolina Professor of the Year. Walker was one of 300 nominees nationwide for the 40 state awards.
Walker received her award along with other state winners during a Nov. 15 luncheon at the Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C. A reception at the Folger Shakespeare followed.
Converse College invites the public to a cocktail reception in honor of Walker on Nov. 27 from 5-6 p.m. in Wilson Hall on the Converse campus.
“Dr. Walker is an extraordinary teacher whose love of knowledge and history is contagious,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming. “She has a distinctive, dynamic style in the classroom that cultivates creative and critical thinking in her students and encourages them to draw independent conclusions well grounded in historical fact. An outstanding educator, scholar, and mentor, Melissa has earned the award of South Carolina Professor of the Year.”
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford offered his thanks, commenting, “I want to thank Melissa for all of her hard work that this award is ultimately in recognition of. We’re certainly grateful for her commitment to educating young people here in our state.”
The Carnegie Foundation and CASE have partnered in recognizing Professors of the Year since 1981. TIAA-CREF, one of America’s leading financial services organizations and higher education’s premier retirement system, became the primary sponsor for the awards ceremony in 2000. Additional support for the program is received from a number of higher education associations, including Phi Beta Kappa.
This year, there are winners in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Finalists are selected by two preliminary panels of judges assembled by CASE, and four national winners are selected by a third and final panel convened by The Carnegie Foundation. State winners are named from top entries resulting from the judging process.
Walker was nominated for the award by Dr. Jeffrey H. Barker, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Converse. In his nomination, Barker stated: “Dr. Walker is one of our most respected and accomplished faculty members, a master teacher-scholar recognized as one of the premier scholars of oral history in the South. She has a superb ability to connect with students, bringing to life our nation’s history and the significance of that history in each student’s life. Dr. Walker’s students are transformed by the excitement she brings to the classroom and they in turn are excited to be part of her courses. Her students find both challenge and support, a distinctive combination of scholarly expectation and true caring.”
The Professor of the Year honor caps an extraordinary year for Walker. In July, she led two week-long seminars funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities which attracted 100 public school teachers from across the country to the Upstate to learn about the crucial role South Carolina played in the American Revolution. In September, she was named as the college’s first George Dean Johnson Jr. Chair in History, an endowed position made possible by a $2.5 million gift from Stewart and Ann Cobb Johnson of Spartanburg in honor of Stewart’s brother. Also this fall, her book Southern Farmers and Their Stories was awarded an Outstanding Academic Title Award from Choice: