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Mentzer Award for Inspirational Teaching

The Mentzer Award for Inspirational Teaching was created by alumna Susan Mentzer-Blair and her husband, William “Bill” Blair to honor a full-time professor recognized by Shepherd students for being particularly inspiring and having a profound effect on his or her students. According to Mentzer-Blair, her brother, Dr. John Thomas “Tom” Mentzer, served as inspiration for the award because he received a similar accolade from his Ph.D. candidate students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he held the Bruce Chair of Excellence in the business department.

MAIT honors Mentzer-Blair’s brother, who passed away in 2010, as well as her mother, who followed in 2014. A portion of each of their estates was used to create this recognition through the Shepherd University Foundation. Mentzer-Blair is a retired school counselor with Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland and her husband is also a retired educator, having taught history and worked as a school counselor with Jefferson County Public Schools.

2024 Mentzer Award for Inspirational Teaching:  Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt

Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt, Professor of English, was selected as the recipient of the 2024 Mentzer Award for Inspirational Teaching (MAIT). All Shepherd students are invited to nominate a professor for this award and briefly describe how this professor has made a difference in their life or the life of a classmate.

Student Nominations:

“Her lectures are so engaging, and clearly so well researched, that as a student I feel challenged and inspired to work harder and care more than I would in other courses. Her dedication to the study of literature and to the Appalachian region is inspiring.”

“Her influence reaches beyond academic achievements, encouraging us to engage with our communities and the world and to champion significant causes.”

Previous Winners

2024 Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt Appalachian Studie
2023 Dr. Matthew Kushin Communication
2022 Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic Sociology
2021 Dr. Samuel Greene Political Science, Geography, and Global Studies
2020 Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst History
2019 Dr. Geri Crawley-Woods Social Work
2018 Dr. Stephanie Slocum-Schaffer Political Science, Geography, and Global Studies