Gregory Schirmer, professor of English, has been honored as this year’s top teacher at the University of Mississippi.
Schirmer was presented the campuswide 2008 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award Thursday evening at the university’s 65th Honors Day Convocation. The ceremony also included recognition of 46 students who were awarded Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals, the university’s highest academic award.
Announcing Schirmer as the Hood Award recipient, Chancellor Robert Khayat said, “This year’s recipient has the good fortune to teach a subject that can inspire any dedicated student. For nearly 25 years, he has taught poetry and literature at Ole Miss. He has opened many minds to the world of great literature. Faculty, staff, students and alumni look forward to the announcement of the outstanding teacher because the award “recognizes excellence in the classroom and sensitivity to the students’ needs,” Khayat said.”
Schirmer said that he was both humbled and flattered by the honor.
“I was, honestly, quite stunned when I was told I had won this award,” Schirmer said. “The Hood Award is particularly meaningful to me because the selection process depends so heavily on student input. It’s very moving to think of students that I’ve taught over the years taking the trouble to write letters recommending me for it.”
In one Hood Award nomination letter for Schirmer, a student commented, “(Schirmer) brings a passion to the classroom that demands attention … (O)ne can tell he loves his subject, and it is infectious.”
Schirmer, who joined the UM faculty in 1984, said, “There are many, many fine teachers at this university whose work is equally – if not more – deserving of this kind of recognition. I would also like to note that this university has been most generous in supporting my research ever since I arrived.”
Before coming to UM, Schirmer taught at the University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University.
A native of Freeport, Ill., he completed his doctoral degree from Stanford University, where he also gained some teaching experience while a graduate student. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois and his master’s in journalism at Columbia University. He worked for eight years as a journalist, first at the Wall Street Journal and then at Newsday. Schrimer earned a second master’s degree in English from State University of New York at Stony Brook before entering Stanford.
Schirmer, whose primary field of specialization is Irish literature, has taught a variety of courses in this area, several courses in British literature and two courses in Shakespeare. His sixth book, “After the Irish: An Anthology of Poetic Translation,” is slated for publication next year by Cork University Press in Ireland.
He and his wife, Jane Mullen, an accomplished writer of novels and short stories, are the parents of four children.
The Outstanding Teacher Award has been a tradition at Ole Miss since 1966. In 1988, Mr. and Mrs. Warren A. Hood Sr. of Jackson made a gift to endow the award, and it was named the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award in Mrs. Hood’s honor. In 2000, the Hoods made another gift to support the award so that it will continue in perpetuity.
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