Converse professor Dr. Laura Feitzinger Brown was among 20 faculty members from private colleges who were recognized for their dedication to teaching by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) at the 10th Annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner on Tuesday, April 14. The award ceremony is part of SC Independent College and University Week, which was recognized by the South Carolina General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley.
Each SCICU member institution selects one faculty member to receive the award, which includes a professional development grant of $3,000 for the professor. “This year’s award recipients demonstrated a remarkable blend of scholarship, passion, commitment, and the ability to motivate students to new heights,” said Kathy McKinney, Chair of the SCICU Board of Trustees.
“I love teaching, I love learning, and this award allows me to learn more so that I will teach even more effectively than before.”
“I am thrilled!” said Brown about her selection. “I am immensely grateful to have a job that I enjoy and that is deeply meaningful. As a parent I know that to watch people grow is a great honor. To take part in that process of encouraging growth is an even greater honor. I love teaching, I love learning, and this award allows me to learn more so that I will teach even more effectively than before.”
Dr. Laura Brown joined the Converse College faculty in 1997, serving as English faculty member and co-director of the Nisbet Honors Program at Converse. She received her bachelor’s degree from Williams College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She regularly teaches courses on Shakespeare, on women in the Renaissance, on adolescent literature, and on music and poetry. Dr. Brown received Converse’s Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for excellence in teaching, one of the highest honors at the college.
Dr. Brown is a model teacher and scholar, bringing her own scholarly research to her students both in and out of the classroom. She coordinated a college-wide Shakespeare Festival as well as the 2009 Hymns in the South Symposium, about the legacy of one of South Carolina’s most important composers, Singin’ Billy Walker and the many roles that hymns play in the South. She also helped coordinate a conference for teachers and students called “Bringing History to Life: Writing, History, and Historical Fiction.” In each case, her students not only heard from leading scholars but participated in the events.
“Dr. Brown is an outstanding, caring teacher. She views each student’s future as a unique set of possibilities and takes seriously her role as mentor.”
When students need a sensitive and caring ear, Dr. Brown is there to listen. Students tell how Dr. Brown is truly inspiring, even when they are not sure of their own abilities. As one student wrote, “Dr. Brown believed in me.”
President Betsy Fleming praises Dr. Brown for her “deep and personal engagement with her discipline coupled with her willingness to bring this passion to the broader community through festivals, conferences and symposia. She truly ignites the intellectual curiosity and risk-taking of her students, inspiring them to discover and pursue their own academic passions.” Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey H. Barker adds, “Dr. Brown is an outstanding, caring teacher. She views each student’s future as a unique set of possibilities and takes seriously her role as mentor. Converse is proud that Dr. Laura Feitzinger Brown is its 2015 South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award recipient.”
Brown plans to use her stipend for an 18-month long research project on Mary Ward, an English Catholic pioneer who fought for education of women and girls in the early 1600’s. “Seeking the full approval of the latest Pope, she did the unthinkable: Risking violence and many other physical dangers, she disguised herself as a pilgrim and walked almost 1500 miles from Brussels to Rome and back in the winter of 1621. This meant going through the Alps,” said Brown.
Her interest in Mary Ward developed over a period of years. “My area of specialization is late 16th- and early 17th-century England, and in the past few decades, scholars have begun to re-explore the religious changes that took place in England during that time,” she said. “When I became Catholic myself in 2007, I learned how much that I had previously believed about Catholicism was not in fact accurate. So I was interested in the ways that my desire to learn more about faith and my need for a new scholarly project might intersect. When I learned that Mary Ward had fought for the education of girls and women, I thought, ‘Wow. This woman’s life might have a great deal to teach me.'” Brown plans a trip to archives at the Bar Convent in York, England, which has an outstanding collection related to Ward.
The 2015 SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award recipients include:
Allen University – Mr. Abdollah Rabieh
Anderson University – Dr. Robert Franklin Jr.
Benedict College – Dr. Ming Yin
Charleston Southern University – Dr. Celeste McMaster
Claflin University – Dr. Mitali P. Wong
Coker College – Dr. Gordon Brown
Columbia College – Dr. Adrienne Oxley
Columbia International University – Dr. David Olshine
Converse College – Dr. Laura Feitzinger Brown
Erskine College – Dr. Howard Thomas
Furman University – Dr. Leslie W. Hicken
Limestone College – Dr. Jerry E. Wright
Morris College – Dr. Elaine McClure
Newberry College – Dr. Peggy Barnes-Winder
North Greenville University – Dr. H. Paul Thompson, Jr.
Presbyterian College – Dr. John Justin Brent
Southern Wesleyan University – Dr. Darryl Jachens
Spartanburg Methodist College – Mr. Kent Newberry
Voorhees College – Dr. Booker T. Anthony
Wofford College – Dr. John Moeller
Additional biographical information and a picture of each award recipient may be found at: http://www.scicu.org/about-scicu/excellence-in-teaching-awards/
SCICU was established in 1953 with the primary mission of promoting independent higher education in South Carolina. SCICU seeks to advance independent higher education through fundraising, scholarships, research, and by facilitating collaborative activities among the 20 member institutions, which educate nearly 33,000 students each year.