BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University Associate Professor of English Wes
Chapman has been named the 2010 winner of the Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence
on Wednesday, April 15, at the annual Honors Convocation in Westbrook Auditorium of
The teacher-scholar Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence is the University’s
top teaching honor. The recipient is selected by Illinois Wesleyan's Promotion and
Tenure Committee based on nominations received from members of the faculty.
This is the first year the award has been named with the support of the Kemp Foundation.
The Kemp family has a long tradition with Illinois Wesleyan. Parker Kemp is an emeritus
member of the University’s Board of Trustees. His brother, John Jackson Kemp III,
was a member of the class of 1950. Kemp’s parents are graduates of Illinois Wesleyan
– Glen Kemp in 1922, and Rozanne Parker Kemp in 1927. Parker Kemp’s uncle, George
“Hub” Parker, is an alumnus, as were two other uncles, John T. and Robert J. Parker.
Provost Beth Cunningham said of Chapman, this year’s winner, “He is a skilled teacher
and mentor, a respected and valued colleague in all matters of the University, and
a scholar who places himself at the cutting edge,” said, noting he is known as an
effective and demanding teacher, always challenging his students. “He pushes his scholarly
endeavors to the edge as he does his courses and his students.” She added a description
of Chapman from one of his former students as “someone who made me feel knowledgeable,
comfortable, and capable of discussing complex literary theories. He is a truly incredible
teacher and individual.”
Chapman has been teaching at Illinois Wesleyan since 1991. Graduating from the University
of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1982, he earned both
his master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University in 1987 and 1992, respectively.
During his time at Illinois Wesleyan, Chapman has dedicated himself to bringing the
excitement of possibilities to the classroom, said Cunningham. He has been a strong
advocate for using technology in the humanities, and has led several panel discussions
and presentations on computers in the classroom. Known for his continued commitment
to the University, Chapman was a member of the University’s Strategic Planning and
Steering Committee for the 2004-2005 academic school year. He has served on the General
Education Task Forces, the Curriculum Council, the Hearing Committee, the Literary
Advisory Committee, the Teaching and Technology Learning Roundtable and is the former
director of the University’s Writing Center.
His scholarly work covers men and feminism, Modernism, and Postmodernism, as well
as hypertext fiction – an area of creative writing abandons chapters, lengthy narrative
lines and narrative sequencing. He has published poems, peer reviews, and articles
that have appeared in publications such as Postmodern Culture and Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly.
In addition to the announcement of the Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence
winner, the Convocation was an occasion to recognize numerous student scholastic honors.
Two retiring faculty members were also recognized at the Convocation. Visiting Associate
Professor of Biology Norma Criley was honored for her 35 years of service to Illinois
Wesleyan. Her husband and former chair of the Biology Department, Bruce Criley, the George C. and Ella Beach Lewis Endowed Chair of Biology, was honored and bestowed
the title of professor emeritus.
The speaker for the Convocation was the Miner Linnaeus Sherff Professor of Botany
Jonathan Dey, who was the 2009 teaching award winner. His speech, “Charlie and Change,”
discussed the significant life changes for Charles Darwin, whose most famous work,
The Origin of Species, was published 150 years ago. Dey used Darwin as an inspiration for students today.
“It will be okay for your students to explore and change the direction of your life,”
he said. “Do not worry if you disappoint others. Be prepared to test your preconceived
ideas, be flexible and never stop learning.” Hear Dey's speech