Lowering academic standards to accommodate contemporary college students is not an option for English Professor Nancy Barrineau.
“We can become jaded about our students, or we can find ways we can teach them better,” she said.
Dr. Barrineau, a member of the English Department at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, was named recipient of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors 2005 Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Established by the Board of Governors in April 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus.
Dr. Barrineau’s teaching skills are so highly prized at UNCP that she was the founding director of the University’s Teaching and Learning Center. Dr. Thomas Leach, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said she possesses all the qualities of an exceptional faculty member.
“Dr. Barrineau is a dynamic teacher, who communicates her enthusiasm for literature to her students, along with her dedication to excellence in scholarship,” Dean Leach said. “She combines these important attributes in an educational experience which students find stimulating and enjoyable.”
With classes ranging from freshmen composition to graduate courses in American literature, Dr. Barrineau finds satisfaction in the teaching and learning process.
“There is nothing like facilitating a class that really works,” she said. “I’ve learned that teaching college students gives me a high like nothing else I’ve experienced.”
Debates over literature of critical theory routinely go on after the bell in Dr. Barrineau’s upper level classes. But her affection for teaching the elements of writing to general education students is also strong.
“In our department, we have used conferences to teach freshman writing for years, and I have always found that kind of consultation rewarding,” Dr. Barrineau said. “But more and more, I meet with my literature students as well to discuss their rough drafts. As a result, the quality of the final drafts has really improved.”
Dr. Barrineau said she appreciates the spirit behind an Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“I’m delighted and honored,” she said. “It’s important to recognize and reward teaching.”
Dr. Barrineau came to UNC Pembroke’s Department of English in 1989. A native of Albany, N.Y., she received a B.A. in English from Asbury College, an M.A. from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
The American novel, in particular the works of Theodore Dreiser, are the focus of Dr. Barrineau’s academic endeavors. Her scholarship includes a collected edition of Dreiser’s early journalism, many essays and presentations on American literature and on teaching and learning.
Dr. Barrineau is a member of the American Literature Association, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, International Dreiser Society and American Association of University Women.
The 16 recipients were nominated by campus committees and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure, chaired by John W. Davis of Winston-Salem, N.C. The awards will be officially presented by UNCP President Molly Corbett Broad and board Chair Bradley Wilson of Carey, N.C.
The board selected some of its most outstanding faculty to receive the 11th annual award. During a recognition luncheon to be held in conjunction with the board’s May meeting, a faculty member from each UNC campus will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $7,500 cash prize.
Additionally, Dr. Barrineau will serve as grand marshal for UNCP commencement and other special events. She will deliver the commencement address at the 2005 Winter Commencement.
The oldest public university in America, UNC today encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees. UNC enrollment is nearly 190,000.