Balina Wins 2008 Pantagraph Award
Marina Balina with a class at Illinois Wesleyan.
April 18, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan Professor of Russian Studies Marina Balina was
named as the 2008 winner of The Pantagraph Award for Teaching Excellence at the University on Wednesday (April 18) at the annual
Honors Day Convocation in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall (1210 Park St., Bloomington).
Listen to the Convocation.
“This is the highest honor that Illinois Wesleyan can give, and I am honored and thrilled
and happy and overwhelmed,” said an emotional Balina as she received hugs of congratulations
from fellow faculty members and staff.
The $1,000 teacher-scholar award is the University's top teaching honor and is sponsored
by the daily newspaper headquartered in Bloomington that services eight counties and
more than 60 communities in Central Illinois. The honoree is selected by Illinois
Wesleyan's Promotion and Tenure Committee based on nominations received from members
of the faculty.
A native of Russia who earned her Ph.D. at Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg),
Balina joined IWU’s faculty in 1989 and is now a member of the University’s department
of modern and classical languages and literatures. Along with teaching the German
and Russian languages and Russian literature, she has published 23 articles and seven
books in three different languages, and earned an international reputation for work
with children’s literature. She has been the recipient of grants from the U.S. Department
of Education, the Austrian Ministry of Culture, the American Association of Learned
Societies, the National Endowment of Humanities and the Kennan Institute for Advanced
Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
“Her life has been like a fairy tale. She grew up in a distant land and has traveled
to be with us at Illinois Wesleyan,” said IWU Provost Beth Cunningham. “Her students
love her and understand that she will do virtually anything to support them in and
out of the classroom.”
The principal address at the Honors Day Convocation was delivered by the 2007 Pantagraph winner, James Sikora. A professor of sociology professor at Illinois Wesleyan, Sikora
formally received his prize from LJ Lusk, community relations director of The Pantagraph. Sikora’s address was titled “Social Capital and the New Individualism.” Balina will
deliver the 2008 Honors Day Convocation speech.
In addition to the announcement of The Pantagraph winner, the Convocation was an occasion to recognize numerous student award winners,
and to honor upcoming University retiree, Mona Gardner.
Director of Institutional Research and Planning and Adlai H. Rust Professor of Insurance
and Finance, Gardner came to Illinois Wesleyan 19 years ago. “She is frequently the
person called upon for help,” said University President Richard Wilson. He noted that
Gardner was the University’s first May Term director in 1994, first director of the
Andrew W. Mellon Center for Faculty and Curriculum Development in 1995, first associate
dean of faculty in 1996 and the first to hold her current title. “We give her our
heartfelt thanks,” he added, and announced she is being granted the status of professor
Contact: Rachel Hatch (309) 556-3960