The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Students get chance to nominate professors

Students will get a chance to honor rhetoric professors by nominating them for an award that recognizes their commitment to teaching.

The Devlin Instructorship Award allows instructors to read about the praise that they rarely receive in class.

Many students who take the required rhetoric courses may not pursue an English degree, but the effect a rhetoric teacher can have on students can last throughout their collegiate career.

Rhetoric professor and director of the first-year writing program, Jo Goyne, believes that the award should recognize a teacher who is demanding, sets high goals but also willing to help.

“[It’s for] any teacher who wants to engage the imagination and the mind of the students,” Goyne said. “If you can do that, frequently the students can do the rest.”

Anyone who has taken rhetoric is eligible to nominate an instructor. Organizers are also encouraging upperclassmen to write letters because they have had time to reflect on their writing skills have improved since their first year.

Students now have an avenue to acknowledge an instructor who helped make them a better writer.

“People can look back to first-year writing as a broadening experience,” Steve Daniels, Dedman professor and chairman of the selection committee, said.

The Devlin Instructorship Award serves as a memorial to Laura Kesselman Devlin’s accomplishments as a professor at SMU. She taught first-year English from 1970 to 1979. She died of cancer in 1982.

Devlin is remembered for her high standards and devotion to her students. In her memory, family and friends donated a fund to provide an annual award given in recognition of the excellence of freshman English instructors.

Daniels remembers Devlin as a generous person who extended that generosity with her teaching.

“The rhetoric instructor is sometimes the only teacher that a student has other than in a large class, so it’s often a very important relationship for first-year students,” Daniels said. “And with [Devlin] it was often a continuing relationship because they could always go back to her and get at least the sympathetic ear and often good insights.”

The award recognizes the qualities of academic rigor, intellectual adventure and human concern. The winner is chosen by a committee made up of the current award recipient, the previous director of the rhetoric program, a student selected by the committee and the chairman of the committee.

Goyne said the past two winners were dedicated to going the extra mile and working with their students one -on-one when it was necessary.

“To have a voluminous response from the students signifies how important they think learning to write is,” Goyne said.

Only full time professors are eligible for this award. This year’s eligible faculty members are Ona Barry, Linda Breslin, Carolyn Channell, Annie-Laurie Cooper, Mallory Dubuclet, Jo Goyne, Diana Grumbles, Mary Jackman, D.J Kassanoff, Harold Knight, Pam Lange, David Mitchell, Robb Pocklington, Kristen Polster, Melissa Rankin and Tom Stone.

“My second rhetoric teacher was one of the best I’ve ever had here; she knew so much,” senior film major Sandra Vahtel said. “It’s awkward because no one wants to take that course, but you have to and some teachers make it worth your while.”

Daniels said the committee looks for thoughtful letters that express the inspiration students feel writing letters which recognize their instructors years later.

“People in their senior year will often think they would have been a different kind of student if it had not been not just for that course, but for that particular instructor,” Daniels said.

Recommendations are due April 11, and should be sent to Daniels at [email protected].

More to Discover