ISSUED: 10 April 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, a professor in Shepherd University’s Department of English and Modern Languages, has been named the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia 2018 Professor of the Year. The Foundation presented the award on April 9 during a banquet held in the Great Hall of the Culture Center in Charleston.
Hanrahan was nominated by the university based on her achievements in teaching and her involvement on campus and in the community.
“It makes me feel so grateful and motivates me to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Hanrahan said. “What a great thing for Shepherd and for our students, the other faculty, and the staff who work so hard. This is as much their recognition as it is mine.”
Hanrahan said receiving the award inspires her to want to try some bold new ideas. She would like to offer interdisciplinary and learning community classes where she can reach students across all majors and promote the humanities.
“That’s what’s so lovely about this too—it’s a wonderful recognition for arts and humanities and the liberal arts,” she said. “It says I’m doing a good job and recognizes the kind of work we do here at Shepherd, which includes that close relationship with students, nurturing and mentoring them and getting them ready for the world beyond the university. It’s nice that the Faculty Merit Foundation appreciates that.”
“As a strong scholar, prize-winning, outstanding teacher and advisor, and caring, contributing member of the university and surrounding community, Heidi was a natural choice,” said Dr. Scott Beard, provost, who himself was a finalist in 2009. “Her passion for teaching and helping students achieve their potential is evident in every course or project she undertakes. She creates an intellectually stimulating environment, one in which students recognize her engaging teaching style.”
In addition to teaching English and literature classes, Hanrahan is advisor to Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, works with students on capstone projects, and helps them present at conferences and publish their work. She also works during summer advising and registration sessions. Hanrahan has taught many different courses and estimates she has touched the lives of at least 1,500 students since she started teaching at Shepherd in 2007.
Hanrahan has helped organize events such as a poetry festival involving high school students and a panel discussion to commemorate Frankenstein at age 200. She has appeared on local radio talk shows discussing Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and worked with her colleague, Dr. Carrie Messenger, associate professor of English, to organize a Jane Austen tea party.
“Shepherd University is extremely proud of Dr. Hanrahan and her commitment to excellence in training the next generation. We are most fortunate to have faculty who excel in teaching, and we are grateful that these efforts are recognized at the highest level in West Virginia,” said President Mary J.C. Hendrix.
The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to provide a means to recognize and reward innovation and creativity among the faculties of West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. Through the Professor of the Year program, the outstanding achievements of those individuals are brought to the attention of the general public. A $10,000 cash award is given to the candidate selected as Professor of the Year, with smaller awards to the other finalists.
The Professor of the Year award is sponsored by United Bank; Bowles Rice LLP; Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel LLP; Maier Foundation; Graystone Consulting; and The Daywood Foundation, Inc.
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