The University of Denver honored two Media, Film & Journalism Studies faculty members as part of the university's Pioneer Awards Ceremony on May 18. Margaret Thompson was awarded the William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award and Lynn Clark was named the Service Learning Faculty Member of the Year.
Thompson, an associate professor and director of the International and Intercultural Communication (IIC) program, was nominated by students and faculty for her outstanding teaching, mentoring and academic work. The award is the highest distinction given to a faculty member each year.
"[She] believes our experiences are worth sharing. She encourages the exchange of ideas, past experiences and cultural dialogue. For me as an Arab-American, Margie created a safe space in which I was valued for my differences. My differences were then used as tools to educate, engage, and explore and I never felt marginalized, silenced or excluded," said an IIC graduate student.
"Margie's classes are completely engaging," said another IIC student. "The classes are famous for their heated discussions on a wide variety of issues that are important to anyone studying intercultural or international communication. We learn by taking issues important to us and place them in a global context. It's important as our world becomes smaller with communication technology."
Thompson created the IIC program in 1995 and it has since become the largest graduate program within the Media, Film & Journalism Studies department. The program—the first of its kind—is a joint degree with the Josef Korbel School for International Studies. Students are drawn to the program for its focus on both international and intercultural study within the wide context of communication areas.
MFJS Department Chair Renee Botta said students benefit greatly from Thompson's hand-on approach to teaching. "We're fortunate to have her in this department: she's an incredible mentor and advocate for students. She cares about what they learn as well as how they learn. She's a very passionate instructor."
Also at the Pioneer Awards Ceremony, Associate Professor Lynn Clark was awarded the Service Learning Faculty of the Year by the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning. Clark was nominated for her commitment to active teaching that links traditional academics with community service in partnership with community organizations.
Clark spent the past year working with students at Denver Public School's South High School in developing a digital media studies club. Students get hands-on learning in digital technologies, including video production, journalism skills and collaborative learning. Next year she hopes to expand the program to help the high school develop a weekly television program produced by students.
Students involved in the South High School program bring back enriched experience to their classes at DU and help inspire other fellow students to join service learning. Clark's teaching evaluations regularly praise her for the service learning component she builds into each class.
"Lynn has a great strength in creating successful community partnerships. Her tireless commitment to service learning is a benefit to our department, the university and the communities involved," Botta said.