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Daigre and Schumacher Win Top Teaching Honors

University awards for outstanding contributions to student education
February 19, 2019

The University has announced its top teaching awards for 2019, and the Department of English has two winners! Senior Lecturer Eric Daigre (PhD 2001) won the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education and Professor Julie Schumacher won the award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education. Our congratulations couldn't be more heartfelt!

Daigre helped to create the department's signature service learning and civic engagement courses in 2002, when ENGL 3505/3506 "Community Learning Internships" were established. Since rechristened "Protest Literature and Community Action" and "Social Movements and Community Education," the courses place students at local schools, adult education centers, and social-justice organizations; in class, students discuss connections between their community work and literature, education, and activism. Daigre taught these perennially popular classes from the start, along with ENGL 3741 "Literacy and American Cultural Diversity." He is our resident expert on combining experiential learning and academic study; he helps the department stay vitally connected to local community organizations and schools. In addition, he provides teaching support and mentoring for MFA, MA, and PhD candidates who teach undergraduates through an annual teaching orientation and fall semester pedagogy class.

Schumacher is a fiction writer who joined the faculty when the Creative Writing Program began offering a Masters in Fine Arts degree, in 1996. Besides winning the Thurber Prize for American Humor for her comic novel Dear Committee Members (and publishing six other novels here), she has served as the director of the Creative Writing Program for four terms, more than half the time she's taught at Minnesota. Over those years, she shepherded MFA students through application, orientation, class requirements, teaching, thesis writing, and graduation, while dealing with budgets, teaching assignments, curriculum, University and college policy, fundraising, and the occasional crisis. As director, she was instrumental in establishing the undergraduate minor in Creative Writing, which has drawn students from all over the Twin Cities campus. At the same time, Schumacher has worked with over 80 graduate students as thesis advisor, over 30 undergraduates as honors thesis advisor, and both graduate and undergraduate students on individual directed studies, beyond her standard teaching commitments.

We in the Department of English are grateful and proud to have these truly outstanding teachers challenging and encouraging our students.