Academics

Berks' Grobman wins Outstanding Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year

Laurie Grobman, professor of English and women's studies at Penn State Berks, will be recognized as one of the best in American higher education when she is named Outstanding Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year today (Nov. 20) at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She is one of four national winners of the 2014 U.S. Professors of the Year awards.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the awards recognize professors for their influence on teaching and commitment to undergraduate students. In addition to the four national winners, 30 winners were named state Professors of the Year and one winner was recognized from the District of Columbia.

At the awards luncheon, Grobman will be introduced by one of her students, Elizabeth Kemmerer, a sophomore childhood and early education major. Kemmerer stated, “Dr. Grobman inspires, encourages, and deeply cares about her students. She demands the excellence we as students should all desire, and it is an honor to not only be present for her acceptance of this prestigious award but also to be the one to introduce her.”

In an official release from the sponsoring organizations, it stated: Grobman is being honored for her work as a teacher-scholar, and her commitment to issues of equality and fairness, which have led her to integrate service learning into her writing and literature classes. Her students undertake community-based research projects in Berks County that bring attention to historically overlooked groups. Judges recognized Grobman’s leadership in multicultural education and said she has “incorporated an impressive program of service learning and community-based research” into her courses.

Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk commented, "I am delighted that Dr. Laurie Grobman is being honored as the Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Dr. Grobman inspires and challenges her students to levels of achievement and excellence that I'm sure surprise the students themselves at times. She is a truly outstanding teacher and a valued member of the Penn State Berks faculty who all pride themselves on their commitment to undergraduate teaching and learning."

Among Grobman’s accomplishments is bringing the Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research (formerly known as The Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at Penn State Berks) to the college in the fall of 2010 and serving as the coordinator. Penn State Berks is the first campus outside of University Park to launch the initiative. Several projects are have been completed by the center and many others are currently underway. Students and faculty are partnering with several nonprofit organizations, such as Friend Inc., the Greater Reading Food Bank, the Pagoda, Nicholas Stoltzfus Homestead and the Salvation Army's Mañana program.

She and her students have worked closely with the African-American community, primarily through the NAACP branch in Reading and the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading, to publish "Woven with Words: A Collection of African American History in Berks County, Pennsylvania," a history book that describes the rich­ and previously untold heritage from the county’s 18th century inception to present day.

This project set the stage for a second publication in which Grobman and her students worked with the Hispanic/Latino community, primarily through Centro Hispano Daniel Torres Inc., to produce "Hispanics/Latinos in Reading and Berks: A Portrait of a Community." The book is the first comprehensive documentation of the county’s Hispanic/Latino community.

Grobman was then approached by the president of Jewish Federation of Reading to design a similar project for the Jewish community. "A History of the Jewish Community in Reading and Berks County" was written by Penn State Berks students in partnership with the Jewish Cultural Center/Jewish Federation of Reading and with hundreds of members of the local Jewish community. Then a second book, "Jewish Reading and Berks," which is a photographic history of Berks County’s Jewish community, was produced by students in Grobman’s “Jewish Representation in History and Photography” course. The photographic history book focused on the issues emanating from the telling of history through photographs, such as accuracy, selectivity and historical truth. The book was published by Arcadia Publishing for the "Images in America Series."

Most recently, Grobman led students through a project in which they researched and wrote about the history of the first three decades of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club of Reading. Their work culminated in the recent publication of a book titled "A History of the First Three Decades of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Reading, Pennsylvania."

“Laurie Grobman is a dedicated and caring educator," said Penn State Provost Nick Jones. "Penn State is full of dedicated faculty and it's a delight to see that someone so knowledgeable in her discipline and committed to helping students be recognized at this level. Being known throughout the United States as one of the best is certainly a clear statement about Dr. Grobman's effectiveness and devotion to the profession. It is gratifying to see Penn State faculty recognized for so positively impacting the lives of our students."

The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program, created in 1981, is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

John Lippincott, president of CASE, praised this year’s award winners for their innovative approach to teaching and learning, and their ability to challenge their students beyond the classroom.

“Many of these professors eschew traditional lectures and rote memorization drills, and instead favor a more research-focused approach to pedagogy,” Lippincott said. “These forward-thinking instructors advocate learning by doing, putting their students in the driver’s seat of their own development. Whether in the humanities or the sciences, they reinforce their students’ critical thinking skills by regularly challenging them to confront tough issues.”

Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, noted the “extraordinary leadership” of the 2014 award winners.

“Each of our awardees, state and national, brings extraordinary leadership not just to their classrooms, but to their departments, colleges and universities, and their respective professional fields,” said Bryk.

This year’s U.S. Professors of the Year award winners were selected from a pool of nearly 400 nominees. Judges selected the national and state winners based on four criteria: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former students.

About CarnegieFounded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an Act of Congress, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center with a primary mission “to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of the teacher.” The improvement of teaching and learning is central to all of the work of the foundation.

About CASEThe Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE América Latina, 2011).

Laurie Grobman, professor of English and women's studies at Penn State Berks Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated January 09, 2015