Privately funded award goes to Professor Mara Scanlon.
What began with a gift from an anonymous donor has now become reality with the naming of the first recipient of the Donald E. Glover Faculty Award. The award criteria specify the recipient be a full Professor of English who has demonstrated dedication and excellence in teaching, energizes and inspires their students, and encourages creative thinking. The 2021-2023 recipient of the monetary award is Mara Scanlon, professor of English and associate director of the UMW Honors Program.
“Mara has been an excellent teacher, and she is a leader in integrating digital technology into the classroom, while offering thoughtful, exciting courses,” says Dr. Gary Richards, professor and chair of the Department of English and Linguistics. “Her classes are consistently student-centered, and she is unfailing in her attention to promoting students’ learning. Additionally, her annual teaching evaluations have been consistently glowing for years, and she is one of the most beloved instructors at UMW.”
A member of the UMW faculty since 1999, Scanlon currently is a full professor of English, as well as an affiliated faculty member of the interdisciplinary programs in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; American Studies; and Asian Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in twentieth-century literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she wrote the dissertation “Novelty in Verse: Bakhtin and the Multivocal Epics of Pound, H. D., and Walcott.”
Her areas of academic expertise include: twentieth-century literature, especially Modernism; poetry (epic, lyric, long poem); ethics and literature; women’s literature and gender theory; literature of the First World War; periodical studies; Asian American literature; and genre studies.
Among Scanlon’s many awards are the 2014 Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Mary Washington and a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Grant for “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman,” a 2008-2010 multi-university collaborative teaching project.
An anonymous donor from the Class of 1971 endowed this award to recognize the inspirational teaching of her favorite professor and the impact it had – not only on how to approach reading literature – but also on how to apply analytical thinking skills to everyday life. Donald E. Glover began teaching English at Mary Washington in 1961 and retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1998 after 37 years of service. He passed away in August of 2020, but his legacy continues through the enlightened lives of the students he taught, and now in the inspired work of the faculty who succeed him.
“The Glover Award publicly documents the excellent teaching that Mara has done and, I hope, energizes her as she continues to change lives in the classroom,” says Richards. “Any time a faculty member is energized that, of course, benefits students, who thrive on dynamic professorial presences in the classroom.”
Scanlon says she is touched by receiving an award named for Donald Glover. “He has been described to me by his contemporaries as kind, passionate, creative, and devoted to his students.” She adds, “Though innovation is paradoxically predictable in my teaching, the award stipend will support my continued growth in fields of scholarly interest with direct effects on my classroom.”
She plans to utilize a portion of the monetary award to focus on her scholarship and teaching on literature of the Great War (WWI). “Two areas of increasing importance to me are first, the intersection of my scholarship and teaching on literature of the Great War with the work I do in the field of Ethics and Literature, a nexus I am beginning to explore in nurses’ representations of pain. The second is the 1918 flu pandemic, the wave of global devastation that overlapped and eventually dwarfed the war’s human toll. Extraordinarily little has been written about the 1918 pandemic in literary genres,” says Scanlon. “In a Spring 2022 iteration of the course I hope to include a text for a student audience now fully aware of what a ‘pandemic’ looks like. The Donald Glover award will allow me to obtain the scholarly materials necessary to bring these topics into the classroom with more expertise.”
Scanlon says she also will use award funds for various poetry classes she teaches UMW students, as well as one planned for an upcoming Elderstudy presentation about Emily Dickinson. “The Donald Glover award will, again, enable me to purchase materials that reinforce my own scholarship in these fields,” she says. “Eventually, I hope this will be part of a larger scholarly project, as well as having benefits for my traditional students and those in our regional Elderstudy community.”
All the above is in keeping with the wishes of the anonymous donor, who writes, “My hope is that Mary Washington English faculty can follow in Dr. Glover’s footsteps, while having a positive and lasting impact on students’ lives.”
*To read more about Dr. Mara Scanlon’s academic background, visit bit.ly/umwscanlon.
*To read more about Dr. Donald E. Glover and the gift behind the endowed faculty award, visit bit.ly/umwglover0221.
*For information about making a gift to support UMW students, faculty, and programs, contact the Office of Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-654-1024.
Article by Donna Harter, Executive Director of Advancement Initiatives