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Trent English Professor Wins Prestigious National Teaching Award


Dr. Sarah Keefer Awarded One of Ten 2009 3M Fellowships from Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Friday, February 6, 2009, Peterborough

Dr. Sarah Keefer, a professor of English Literature at Trent University, has been recognized as one of Canada's outstanding university teachers as a winner of a prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship, a national award given annually to professors in Canada in recognition of their excellence in teaching and educational leadership.

“I was absolutely wowed when I received the news,” Prof. Keefer said about winning the award, which is co-sponsored by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada Company. “This is a valorization of what I do. I love teaching and I truly believe that it is a calling. I go the distance for my students and this award says I am doing something right. It is a great vote of confidence.”

“Dr. Keefer is a most fitting recipient of this prestigious award. She models the best attributes of scholar and teacher. Her students are truly fortunate to have been provided with an enduring legacy of scholarship and pride in scholarship,” said Dr. Christine McKinnon, vice president Academic and dean of Arts & Science at Trent. “This honour also adds Dr. Keefer to a prestigious list of previous 3M Fellowship winners at Trent, further demonstrating the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching.”

Prof. Keefer holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. She started at Trent as an instructor in 1984, becoming a full professor in 1999. She has also held the positions of senior tutor, acting associate chair and coordinator of the Emphasis in Medieval, Antique and Renaissance Studies at Trent. Her primary area of research is the liturgy of the Anglo-Saxon Church and its influence on the culture of the period. Throughout her distinguished teaching career, she has also been awarded Merit Awards for Excellence in Teaching (1997, 2003, 2008), Trent University's Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching (2000), and an OCUFA Teaching Award (2001).

In nominating Prof. Keefer for the award, Dr. Elizabeth Popham, an English professor at Trent, spoke of Prof. Keefer’s eagerness to reach out to students, to share pedagogical innovations with her colleagues, and to mentor new faculty. “I can honestly testify that she is that rarest of academic beasts, a true scholar-teacher,” Prof. Popham said. “Despite her prolific output as one of the world experts in Anglo-Saxon liturgical texts, she is - first and foremost - a thoughtful, imaginative and inspiring teacher."

Prof. Keefer’s students agree, praising their favourite professor for her personal approach to teaching and her use of innovative teaching techniques in the classroom. “She challenges her students to exceed the norm, and with compassion and patience she aids them in discovering the limits of their abilities and to push beyond those limits,” said one of Prof. Keefer’s former students.

Prof. Keefer, along with the nine other 2009 Fellows, was celebrated in a special undergraduate issue of Maclean’s Magazine on February 5. The 3M Fellowship awards will be officially presented on June 18 at the STLHE Conference being held at the University of New Brunswick. In November, Prof. Keefer and her fellow award recipients will also participate in an exclusive scholarly retreat at the Fellows to Le Château Montebello in Quebec.

Since 1986 when the award was introduced, 238 Canadian university professors, representing 45 different universities, have been recognized as 3M Teaching Fellowship Award recipients. With this year’s recognition of Prof. Keefer, Trent University is now home to six 3M Teaching Fellows, including: Dr. Deborah Berrill (2006), Dr. Susan Wurtele (2006), Dr. David Poole (2003), Dr. Stephen Brown (1997), and Dr. Alan Slavin (1993).


For more information, please contact:
Dr. Sarah Keefer, Department of English Literature, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6033 or (705) 799-0645 (home)