By: Michael Bruckler, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Baylor University has named Jennifer Cognard-Black, professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, as the 2020 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.
Awarded biennially, The Cherry Award is a prestigious national teaching award – with the single, largest monetary reward of $250,000 presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. The award program is designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourage departments and institutions to recognize their own great teachers.
“Jennifer Cognard-Black is one of the most respected and most beloved professors at St. Mary’s College of Maryland,” said President Tuajuanda C. Jordan. “With Jennifer winning this prestigious award, it shows the world what we already know, that St. Mary’s College is at the pinnacle of higher education, with professors at the top of their field and a curriculum that is rigorous and continues to resonate with students.”
As the 2020 Cherry Award recipient, Cognard-Black will receive the $250,000 award and an additional $25,000 for the English department at SMCM. This is in addition to the $15,000 Cognard-Black received and $10,000 the SMCM English department received when Cognard-Black was named a finalist.
“I am both humbled and honored to be selected as the winner of the 2020 Cherry Award for Great Teaching,” Cognard-Black said. “As a lifelong collaborator and someone with a deep interest in the pedagogy of empathy, it is my hope that I may use my time at Baylor to work side-by-side with students, community partners, and faculty across campus to develop academic projects that ultimately help others in real and lasting ways.”
In a press release from Baylor University, Michael W. Thompson, Ph.D., committee chair and associate dean for undergraduate programs in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science states, “Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black stands out in her ability to inspire and nurture students. Her ‘Just Food’ courses transcend the classroom and provide an excellent model of service-learning. We look forward to her residency at Baylor.” Cognard-Black is expected to teach in residence at Baylor during the Fall 2020 semester.
Cognard-Black was recently named a 2020 Senior Fulbright Scholar to the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she will teach in residence during the Spring 2020 semester. She also was a Fulbright Scholar to the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2012. She has served as faculty-in-residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and as artist-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She has received 12 faculty development grants from St. Mary’s College, as well as two internationalization and teaching and learning grants (2011, 2016). She has twice been given the highest honor for teaching that St. Mary’s College students bestow, the Faculty-Student Life Award (2002 and 2009).
In 2019, she published “Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Writers and Readers” through the Great Courses Program. This was preceded by a 2016 release, “Becoming a Great Essayist.” The Great Courses are a series of educational classes offered to “surround the world’s greatest teachers with a team of experts who collaborate on crafting a customized and entertaining educational journey.”
Cognard-Black earned her bachelor’s in English and music, summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi, from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1991, a master’s in fiction and essay writing, with honors, from Iowa State University in 1994, and her Ph.D. in 19th-century Anglo-American literature, with honors, from The Ohio State University in 1999. She serves as a professor of English at St. Mary’s College.