Cameron University's Dr. David Fennema, professor of theatre arts, has been selected as the 19th recipient of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Teaching Excellence Award. The Hackler Lectureship in Teaching Excellence was established in 1996 by CU alumni Harold and Elizabeth Hackler to recognize outstanding contributions by faculty in the lives of Cameron students. Fennema received the award during a reception featuring Mr. and Mrs. Hackler on November 17 at Cameron University-Duncan. Dr. Justin Walton, assistant professor, and CU student Thelonious Smith spoke of Fennema's passion for teaching and continuing quest for learning.
"Dr. Fennema serves as a noble example of what every other educator should aspire to be," Walton said. "He is a model of dignity in our profession and a man most deserving of this prestigious teaching honor.
His professional relationships are a result of the time and effort he invests in getting to know his students and colleagues alike. He takes a personal interest in their work and achievements and extends a helping hand in times of need. He motivates his students to learn by modeling his own enthusiasm for his subject area and by his ongoing desire to learn more about it. He is fundamentally curious about this world and strives to learn something new every single day of his life. By listening, yielding, and reflecting, Doc remains open to all conceivable possibilities--characteristics that have served him well throughout his professional career."
"I have observed Dr. Fennema in the classroom and in the theatre," said Smith. "I truly admire his passion for perfection. In this context, perfection does not mean without error. It refers to his wish to grant students what they need to succeed. He listens with an attentive ear, so he can offer the best advice to students. His attitude helps create an atmosphere of teaching, development, and guidance in the classroom. An atmosphere of teaching, development, and guidance perpetuates success."
He then thanked Fennema "for being a perfect example to follow" and closed by saying, "I wish you continued success in inspiring students to reach their goals and aspirations."
Through the endowment, Fennema will receive a stipend and a grant for professional development. His name has been added to the Hackler Award honor roll plaque that is on display at the CU-Duncan campus.
"As a director, teacher of acting, and a mentor for young actors, David always brings students to a highest possible level of performance," said Dr. Von Underwood, dean of the CU School of Liberal Arts. "He loves to work collaboratively, cultivating and drawing inspiration from the creative energies of his students and his colleagues. You can see his work as a teacher and director later this month in ‘Iphigenia at Aulis.' The proof is in the play. He carries the same enthusiasm for the varieties of expression in drama and the arts into his general education classes. The excitement and gratitude of his students is often still clear years after they have studied with him. He is a teacher's teacher, opening creative horizons with great joy."
Fennema was nominated by CU students Cynthia Reynolds and Francesca Rios, both of whom took his "Exploring Multiculturalism" class during the Summer 2009 semester.
"Dr. Fennema emitted such a happy and excited attitude in his class that was so contagious you couldn't help but want to be excited about the class right along with him," Rios said in her nomination. "It is because of Dr. Fennema that I want to travel to China, Japan, India and the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada to experience first-hand the variety of cultures."
Reynolds said of him, "Dr. Fennema is an experienced and cultured professor whose teaching ethic is high, and he makes it clear to students that his desire is that they learn about other cultures and come away from his class with an open mind...He inspired me to learn more about other cultures and even research more about India, which is a country I've grown to love, with great thanks to Dr. Fennema."
Following teaching stints at the University of Wisconsin, the College of Wooster and the University of Denver, Fennema joined the faculty at Cameron University in 1983, where he teaches numerous classes pertinent to the theatre, including Introduction to Theatre, Theatre History/Drama, Acting/Directing, Technical Productions, Playwriting, Exploring Multiculturalism Through the Arts, and more. He attended the University of Wisconsin, receiving B.S. and M.A. degrees in Theatre/Speech and then earned his doctorate in Theatre/Drama/Comparative Literature from Indiana University.
Recipients of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Teaching Excellence Award are selected based on recommendations from faculty and students. All faculty who have been regular full-time members of the CU faculty for at least three years and hold an appointment as an assistant professor or higher are eligible. The candidate's principle assignment must be teaching.
November 18, 2009