Marianne DeKoven Wins Teaching Award for 2003
English Department is pleased to announce that Professor Marianne
DeKoven has won the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence
in Teaching for 2003. A member of the English faculty since
1977, Professor DeKoven has been, for a quarter of a century,
an inspirational teacher of modernist and contemporary literature,
gender studies, and feminist theory. The Susman Award is the
highest teaching honor at the University, given annually to
four professors in recognition of their "outstanding
service" in stimulating and guiding students' intellectual
Professor DeKoven's undergraduate classes are among the most
heavily enrolled in the English Department, with good reason.
She is known for her high intellectual standards and her lucid
approach to difficult material. One colleague admires her
ability "to encourage students to work at a level far
above expectations," and states how enjoyable it is to
teach students who have worked with her. Students appreciate
the way she challenges the simplified understandings often
brought to subjects like contemporary literature or feminist
studies. As one student put it, she "sharpened my critical
skills, opened my eyes to new ideas and reading, and made
me understand the importance of disagreeing."
In their evaluations, students frequently praise Professor
DeKoven for her willingness to engage in scholarly debate
and consider a wide range of opinions in the classroom. She
is "always encouraging and enthusiastic about students'
ideas," and succeeds in creating a classroom atmosphere
that is "conducive to learning" and "bristling
with intelligence." Many students summarize their experience
simply by writing, "I loved this class" or, "This
was one of my favorite courses at Rutgers."
Graduate students who have worked with Professor DeKoven
also speak glowingly of her impact on them both as a teacher
and a mentor. Her classes are known for being intellectually
rigorous without being intimidating. Students appreciate her
ability to "navigate the class discussion through difficult
and sensitive subjects with grace and openness," according
to one evaluation. She has been a director or reader for many
dissertations, and her former advisees praise the inspiring
exchanges they shared with her, as well as her supportive
mentoring through studying for orals, writing dissertations,
and searching for jobs. Several former students describe Professor
DeKoven as their professional ideal, "a brilliant model
of the teacher I hope to become" or "the best possible
role model for the students" in the Graduate Program.
Outside the classroom, Professor DeKoven has been influential
in shaping the curriculum for both the Graduate Program and
the undergraduate major. She has been enormously successful
and innovative in developing new courses of her own at all
levels, and she has served as chair of the English Department's
Women and Literature/Feminist Studies committee, which was
responsible for creating the current Feminist Studies option
within the English major. Her contributions have helped to
maintain modernism, postmodernism, and gender studies as vibrant
components of the English Department curriculum.
Her influence does not stop within the Department though.
Professor DeKoven has also long been an active supporter of
cross-disciplinary work at Rutgers, particularly in feminist
and gender studies. In 1986, she was co-founder and co-chair
of The Gender Group at Rutgers, an interdisciplinary feminist
colloquium sponsored by the English and History Departments.
She is currently a member of the Institute for Women's Leadership,
and from 1995-1998 was the Director of the Institute for Research
on Women, where she obtained a $250,000 grant from the Rockefeller
Foundation to bring outstanding scholars to campus for seminars
and public lectures. Her work has created a universitywide
support network for all professors working on issues of gender
and women's studies, stimulating important new research and
teaching in those fields. As one colleague notes, "the
influence of her wonderful teaching has reverberated intensively
within her disciplines and extensively throughout the University
as a whole."
Professor DeKoven's many years of service to the English
Department, and to scholarly work at Rutgers in general, have
made an invaluable contribution to the school's academic excellence,
and students and colleagues both are grateful beneficiaries
of her continuing dedication. Congratulations to Professor
Marianne DeKoven for her well-deserved Warren I. Susman Award
for Excellence in Teaching.