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University Relations

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October 24, 2005
Contact: Jenna Sheldon-Sherman.

KU Mortar Board to honor 2005 Outstanding Educators on Nov. 6, 18

LAWRENCE -- Five University of Kansas faculty members were named 2005 Outstanding Educators by KU's Torch chapter of Mortar Board national senior honor society that has presented its teaching awards at KU since 1974.

Winners this year are Ann Cudd, professor of philosophy and director of women's studies; Maryemma Graham, professor of English; Marni Kessler, assistant professor of art history; Mehrangiz Najafizadeh, associate professor of sociology, and Mark Nesbitt-Daly, associate director of the University Honors Program.

Mortar Board will honor this year's Outstanding Educators with a reception Sunday, Nov. 6, and during the KU-Idaho State men's basketball game, Friday, Nov. 18, at KU.

On Nov. 6, Mortar Board will honor the recipients at a 1:30 p.m. reception in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. Mortar Board members and alumni, as well as university administrators and faculty colleagues, are invited to attend.

On Nov. 18, Mortar Board will recognize the recipients during the men's basketball game at Allen Field House. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway; Mortar Board President Audrey Worthington, Dallas, Texas; and Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Co-Chairs Amber Hall, Wichita, and Jenna Sheldon-Sherman, Lawrence, will present certificates to the winners. KU Mortar Board adviser is Linda Mullens, senior budget and personnel administrator in the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success.

Mortar Board members nominate educators for the award for their devotion to academia, teaching style, accessibility, knowledge of their subject and other special qualities identified by the KU chapter. Mortar Board's 39 members selected the winners.

Mortar Board membership is based on distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. Students must have a 3.0 grade-point average and hold senior status during some or all of the academic year.

KU's Mortar Board chapter was founded at KU in 1912 as the Torch senior women's honor society. In 1924, it affiliated with the national Mortar Board women's honor society founded in 1918. Mortar Board opened membership to men in 1975.

KU 2005-06 members, their hometowns, majors, parents' names (when available) and high schools are listed online at

Biographical information and students' nomination comments on KU's 2005 Mortar Board Outstanding Educators follow:

Ann Cudd: "Dr. Cudd motivates students through her commitment to her field in both philosophy and women's studies. Her embracement of the ideals of equality and diversity along with her dedication to service-learning make her not only an outstanding educator but also an outstanding individual," Jenna Sheldon-Sherman, Lawrence senior, wrote.

Cudd has taught at KU since 1988. She received bachelor's degrees in mathematics and philosophy from Swarthmore College, and master's degrees in philosophy and economics and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. Her major research and teaching interests are philosophy of social science, feminist theory and social and political philosophy. She received a 1997 Hall Center for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 2001 W.T Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and 2005 KU Woman of Distinction honor. Her book, Analyzing Oppression, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2006, and she recently published Feminist Theory: A Philosophical Anthology, co-edited with Robin Andreasen.

Maryemma Graham: "Dr. Graham encourages students to engage in lifetime learning outside the classroom by offering opportunities to attend lectures, events and conferences for both undergraduate students and graduate students. Dr. Graham is committed to the lifelong success of each of her students," Cynthia Lynn, Lawrence junior, wrote.

Graham has been at KU since 1998 when she was invited as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor. She received her doctoral degree from Cornell University. She is founder and director of the Project on the History of Black Writing at KU and founder of the Langston Hughes National Poetry Project at KU. She serves as president of the Toni Morrison Society. She is on sabbatical for the year as the John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina where she is completing the biography of Margaret Walker. Graham has published eight books, including Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker, and is the senior editor for the forthcoming History of African American Literature from Cambridge University Press. Her previous awards include the 2005 Steeples Award for Service to Kansans, 2004 KU Woman of Distinction and 2002 KU Women's Hall of Fame. She is one of the founders of the Lawrence African American Families Oral History Group.

Marni Kessler: "Professor Kessler is a talented and compelling lecturer. She has the ability to sustain the attention of her students throughout a three-hour class period. Additionally, Professor Kessler's passion, support and excellent lecturing capabilities make her a truly outstanding educator," Alice Walkiewicz, Stillwater, Okla., senior, wrote.

Kessler joined KU's art history faculty in 2000. Her specialty is 19th-century European art. She completed her bachelor's in English at Vassar College, a master's in art history from Williams College and master's and doctoral degrees in the history of art from Yale University. Her awards include the 2005 KU Byron T. Schutz Award for Excellence in Teaching; 2003 KU Mentor of the Year, Honorable Mention; Luther Gregg Sullivan Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow from 1999-2000 and Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow in 1997-1998, both at Wesleyan University. She currently has a Hall Center for the Humanities Research Fellowship.

Mehrangiz Najafizadeh: "As Professor Najafizadeh teaches her class, it is obvious that she has a love for the profession. Her favorite part of her job is not the extensive travels she embarks upon to complete her research, but rather (it) is walking into Fraser Hall in order to better educate [her] students," Cole Ritchie, Wichita senior, said.

Najafizadeh returned to KU in 1992 after having received a KU doctoral degree in sociology in 1985. She has master's degrees in sociology from KU and Ohio University. Her research interests focus on global social change and social movements, with particular attention to gender, culture, education, social inequality and sociopolitical change. She is a former associate director of the KU Center for Latin American Studies. Her most recent publications are in Gender & Society and The Journal of Third World Studies. She was selected a 2003-04 Fulbright Scholar for Azerbaijan and received a 1996 W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Her other honors include a Keeler Family Intra-University Professorship Award, Byron A. Alexander Graduate Mentor Award, J. Michael Young Academic Adviser Award and an American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant.

Mark Nesbitt-Daly: "Mark Nesbitt-Daly is a professor and adviser committed to giving students a positive college experience. He goes out of his way on a regular basis to help students help students and takes his relationship as adviser and friend seriously." Meredith Hauck, Wichita senior, said.

Nesbitt-Daly became an associate director of the honors program in 1999 and is a courtesy assistant professor in Germanic languages and literatures. He received a master's from Indiana University and a doctorate from KU in Germanic languages and literatures. His research interests are medieval philology and literature, and he is preparing an article on magic and knighthood in Arthurian romance. His past honors include a 2000 Max Kade Foundation Fellowship Award and a 1994 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellowship for research in Germany. He is president of the KU Unclassified Senate (formerly the Unclassified Professional Staff Association), a member of University Council, an ambassador to the Center for Teaching Excellence and the adviser to the HonORead Council, the student council for the University Honors Program.


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