A Utah State University professor of English known for her connection to students and the promotion of undergraduate research has been named the 2013 Carnegie Professor of the Year for the state of Utah. Joyce Kinkead, who has taught at USU for 31 years, was presented the award during a ceremony Nov. 14 in Washington D.C. One of 300 professors nominated nationwide, Kinkead is among just 30 others given the award and is the 13th honoree from USU.
“I’m lucky 13 in 2013,” Kinkead quipped.
But all levity aside, winning the Carnegie is a high professional honor for Kinkead who, as dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in the early 1990s, became aware of the national award and helped start the Aggie tradition of winning. USU’s first winner was classics professor Fran Titchener in 1995. The award salutes the most outstanding undergraduate educators in the country — those who excel in teaching and who positively influence the lives and careers of students. The award is the only national program that recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching. USU boasts more Carnegie winners than any other post-high-school institution in Utah.
During her long career at USU, Kinkead’s work has always been student centric as she has worked diligently to find new and better ways to teach writing and English. An early skeptic of online courses, Kinkead is now one of the biggest boosters on campus for online education, especially in writing. After she taught an online course in young adult literature, she discovered that it was an effective teaching tool to engage future teachers. When asked to offer a Teaching Writing class online, she balked but finally agreed.
“I was skeptical so I thought I should actually try teaching the course,” Kinkead said. “I found that online courses are almost all writing, and I believe a student becomes a better writer by writing a lot. In an online course, every interaction I have with my students is written, and I am communicating with them 24 hours a day. I love it. I’m not limited to three hours in classroom, and I can respond to my students right away. That focused feedback makes them better writers.”
Another signature of Kinkead’s innovative approach is her focus on undergraduate research. At a research institution like USU, graduate research, especially in the sciences, often overshadows the work of undergraduates, especially students in the humanities. But Kinkead has worked hard to develop programs and methodologies for promoting undergraduate research that encourages students to pursue research and publishing options.
“The goal is to bring students into the profession,” she said. “We should be looking at undergraduates as pre-professional members of the club. One of the reasons we are well known for undergraduate research is that undergraduates can contribute something significant to the profession, and USU faculty members believe that.”
Kinkead herself is a prolific scholar-researcher having published 11 books, several focusing on developing undergraduate research programs. A new book, Farm: A Multi-Modal Reader, coauthored with Evelyn Funda and Lynne McNeill, appears in 2014, and should be of especial interest to land-grant universities. She’s just wrapping up a 13th book on research methods on writing studies, and has two more books on her writing agenda.
“Joyce is an innovative researcher who links research about teaching to the actual activity,” said John Allen, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “And she has consistently done so for over a decade. We are very fortunate to have her in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. To have her recognized for the quality of her teaching is indicative of the quality of teachers we have in our college.”
Kinkead came to USU in 1982 for an interview for a job that, at the time, she admits she didn’t think she was going to take.
“I was an assistant professor in Kansas,” she said. “I came to interview as the potential director of the writing center here. I liked my job and I wasn’t really interested, but then I saw the valley and the mountains. I loved it. I took the job that they offered me on the spot.”
More than 30 years later, she continues to identify with USU’s mission, which as a land-grant college, stresses open access to education. Raised on a farm in Missouri, she is passionate about helping students find educational paths that they may not know about.
“I want students to have opportunities that I didn’t have,” she said. “I am a daughter of a farmer, and this is the kind of institution that was made for someone like me.”
Her connection to students is evidenced not only in the Carnegie award but also by the fact that some spaces in the campus library are dedicated to her. At the library’s entrance, a photographic display features several students, along with personal stories of their involvement in research, scholarship and creative activities that helped them achieve their goals. This wall, honoring Joyce’s commitment to undergraduate research, was unveiled as she stepped aside from directing undergraduate research to return full-time to the faculty. On an upper floor, the Kinkead Honors Study Area is a tribute to her many accomplishments on behalf of undergraduate education. On yet another floor, plaques denote student winners of scholarships and fellowships such as the Rhodes, Barry M. Goldwater and Marshall.
“These student awards are the result of her steadfast devotion to undergraduates and their success,” said USU President Stan Albrecht.
But Kinkead eschews such accolades, characteristically returning her focus to USU students.
“I have learned a lot from my students,” she said. “They’ve been very good teachers for me.”
Past USU Carnegie Professors of the Year include these outstanding faculty members: Michael Christiansen, music (2012); Jim Cangelosi, mathematics and statistics (2011); Laurie McNeill, civil and environmental engineering (2010); David Peak, physics (2009); Lyle McNeal, animal science (2007); Bonnie Glass-Coffin, anthropology (2004); Jan Sojka, physics (2002); David Lancy, anthropology (2001); Mark Damen, history (1998); Sonia Manuel-Dupont, English (1997); Ted Alsop, geography and earth resources (1996); and Frances Titchener, history (1995).
Kinkead teaches in the Department of English in the College of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences at USU.
What Kinkead’s students and colleagues say (select comments from the numerous nomination letters):
“Although Joyce has been selfless in answering the call to serve the university over the years, she turned down my recent request to return to an administrative role in Old Main, saying that she’d always believed the best job on campus was that of a professor. Frankly, she has always been a faculty member at heart. Deriving great pleasure in her work as a teacher and mentor, Joyce’s commitment to undergraduates is unbounded.” — USU President Stan Albrecht
“Joyce is an innovative researcher who links research about teaching to the actual activity. And she has consistently done so for many years. We are very fortunate to have her in the college, and to have her recognized for the quality of her teaching is indicative of the quality of teachers we have in our college.” — John Allen, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
“Joyce is a thought leader in the field of undergraduate research. It is hard to imagine anyone in the field who has more influence on a national scale than Joyce; her books and articles will influence the field for many years to come.” — Dr. Janice DeCosmo, chair of CUR’s Undergraduate Research Program Directors and associate dean at the University of Washington
“Dr. Kinkead is the best teacher I’ve ever had! She is student friendly, treats us with great respect and has the best diplomatic skills of anyone I’ve ever met. She is kind, approachable and a pleasure to learn from. She is the archetype that all teachers should follow: in content and character. She took the brave leap for teaching English classes online. She is on the cutting edge of advanced learning, and her willingness to use all available options to improve the learning of her students is unmatched.” — Kevin Turner
“Dr. Kinkead is the most reliable professor I know. She responds to my emailed questions within minutes and is always available to meet one-on-one whenever a new challenge arises. She has gone out of her way to write letters of recommendation and review essays for internship applications.” — Karen Neilson, Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2013
A reception, hosted by the office of Executive Vice President and Provost, will be held in Kinkead’s honor Dec. 3 from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Haight Alumni Center on USU’s Logan campus.
A complete list of USU’s Carnegie Professors, along with biographical information, can be seen online.
- U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program
- USU Department of English
- USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Contact: Joyce Kinkead, Joyce.Kinkead@usu.edu
Writer: Jeremy Pugh, senior communications specialist, CHaSS, 435-797-0267,