In a special reception in the Masters Center Mineral Gallery, Dr. Mark Harman was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Teacher Award by the Honors Program at Elizabethtown College. He is the second professor to be honored by the program.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Harman is a world-renowned scholar who has published dozens of articles on a wide variety of subjects, many of which are available for student reading in the High Library. He is currently a professor of international studies, English, and German at Etown. Harman will soon be entering a three-year phased retirement from his academic career. He was selected for the Outstanding Teacher Award for his excellence, dedication and love of teaching classes within the Honors Program, including one that focuses on classic Irish literature.
The Outstanding Teacher Award initiative began in 2015 at the request of the student Honors Council and was first awarded to Dr. Thomas Hagan, associate professor of chemistry at the College. The council is run entirely by students with supervision from the current Honors Program director, Dr. Kyle Kopko. The award recipients are nominated every year and the finalist is selected by a vote in the Honors Council.
“I think this award represents an opportunity for students, alumni, parents and members of the community to recognize an outstanding teacher who has supported the Honors program,” Kopko said. “I really try to involve students whenever possible in the decision making process.”
The award was presented in a brief ceremony which included light refreshments in the Masters Center during Homecoming weekend. The attendees included the President of the College, Dr. Carl Strikwerda, as well as a number of current Honors Program students.
Presenting the award to Harman was The Etownian’s Assistant Campus Life Editor Megan Kane, a sophomore English Education major and member of the Honors Council. During her presentation, Kane spoke of how Harman has influenced her during her time in the Honors Program and inspired her to excel within the program, and described the experiences of herself and other Honors students as some of the reasons Harman was presented with the Outstanding Teacher Award.
“It is truly invigorating to learn about literature from one who has such a passion for it,” Kane said during her speech.
“I am just one student of many whom Dr. Harman has inspired over the years.”’
Harman then took the stage to receive the award and offer a few brief remarks of his own regarding how he felt about receiving the award, which for him was a bittersweet experience due to his pending retirement from the College.
“I’m very honored to be teaching in the Honors Program, and I’m very pleased to accept this award. When one knows the end of something is coming, one appreciates it all the more,” Harman said during his acceptance speech.
Strikwerda said that the Outstanding Teacher Award “recognizes the kind of excellent scholars that we’re proud of at the College, and especially the importance of intentional teaching here at the College.” Strikwerda also remarked that he was pleased to see the award go to Harman, whom he described as, “… a special gift to education at a college like Elizabethtown.”
Harman may be approaching retirement, but he shows no signs of slowing down yet; he had to leave the awards reception early after a brief photographing session to meet with a guest speaker, Irish Ambassador to the United Nations David Donoghue, who gave a presentation in Gibble Auditorium.
Although his retirement is drawing near, Harman is still an active member and vibrant part of the Etown community and a key part of life in the Honors Program for many of the participating students. A number of students were present at his award ceremony to reflect on how they had been influenced by him through their academic careers and to be present for his official recognition for doing so.