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Drew University Teachers of the Year

Brianne Barker, Kathie Brown and Kristen Turner represent all three schools

May 2020 – Drew University has announced its 2020 professors of the year in the College of Liberal Arts, Theological School and Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. How would we describe them? “Outstanding,” “commit[ed] to teaching … with sincere love and care” and “work[ing] tirelessly.”

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Barker (top right), Brown (bottom left) and Turner (bottom right)

This year’s winners—nominated by graduating students and chosen by their deans or the university president based on performance and student evaluations—were acknowledged during Drew’s virtual Commencement ceremony for their dedication to the art of teaching, their scholarly contributions to their disciplines and their commitment to the students of Drew. Read below for more on the three winners.

College of Liberal Arts – Brianne Barker

Brianne Barker, Associate Professor of Biology, is the 2020 winner of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Barker has expertise in immune response to viral infection and she runs an active research laboratory with undergraduate students studying the immune response, particularly the inflammatory response, to HIV and other viral infections. One student who nominated her for this award appreciated Dr. Barker’s teaching and mentorship in this way, “She is truly an outstanding instructor. She brings so much knowledge to her students and does so in a relatable, understandable, memorable way. Additionally, she brings an excellent energy to campus, and she is always available in her office to chat and help us through the rough times.” Another student noted, “She is a very involved and dedicated professor. You can tell that what she is teaching is truly her passion,” while yet another expressed feeling “lucky” that they had had the opportunity to learn from her by working in her lab. In addition to being an excellent teacher and mentor, Dr. Barker co-hosts a weekly virology podcast. She earned a BS in biology from Duke University and a PhD in immunology from Harvard University.

Drew Theological School – Kathie Brown

Kathie Brown, Associate Professor of Language and Culture for the Practice of Ministry, and Director of the Theological School Center for Language and Learning, is the 2020 Outstanding Teacher/Scholar of the Year. Professor Brown has been a fixture at Drew for more than 30 years, teaching theological, graduate and college students alike. She is renowned for her dedication to her students—academically and personally—and gives of herself tirelessly to help students overcome all obstacles to learning and to forming vibrant learning communities. This year she was recognized for her service with the MLK Award for Social Justice for her work dismantling barriers and improving access and opportunity for all Drew community members. She is an expert in international and intercultural education, and teaches regularly across our Theological School and Teacher Education programs. One student, in nominating Professor Brown for this award said, Not only does she ensure the understanding necessary to create safe environments for learning, she is also concerned with the welfare of her students and how they live and cope, especially the international students. Professor Brown’s commitment to teaching international students with sincere love and care deserves this distinction.”

Caspersen School of Graduate Studies – Kristen Turner

Kristen Turner, Professor and Director of Teacher Education, is the winner of the Thomas H. Kean Scholar/Mentor of the Year Award. Dr. Turner has developed teacher education programs at Drew in ways that benefit Drew students and also the surrounding communities. One of the students in the program noted that Dr. Turner has worked tirelessly to ensure that Drew’s Teacher Education program works with diverse school districts so that her students have the skills and experience to meet the needs of all the communities they will serve as educators. Another student expressed feeling “so lucky to be able to take advantage of Dr. Turner’s expertise for strategies and planning on digital pedagogy in my future classroom.” Dr. Turner’s expertise is digital literacies and is the author of The Ethics of Digital Literacy: Developing Knowledge and Skills across Grade Levels. Dr. Turner earned a BA from Bucknell University, MA from Columbia University and a PhD from Rutgers University.

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