Q&A with 2015-16 Outstanding Faculty Award (Service) honoree
…Interim Head, Department of English / Associate Professor Karen Bishop-Morris
Following is the second in a series of Q&A profiles focusing on PNW’s six recently-recognized 2015-16 Outstanding Faculty Award recipients. Associate Professor of English / Department of English Interim Head Karen Bishop-Morris earned Outstanding Faculty honors for Service. Remaining Q&A profiles will be published in subsequent Points of Pride issues.
Q: How long have you served PNW and its predecessor university, Purdue Calumet?
KBM: I taught my first writing class at Purdue Calumet as a graduate student in the MA program in English in 1994, and continued for several years and on weekends even while I enrolled in a doctoral program at West Lafayette. I returned to Purdue Calumet as a Visiting Professor in 2006, and then joined the faculty permanently in 2007.
Q: What are your primary areas of academic-related service engagement?
KBM: I’ve been very fortunate to work across the university on a number of academic-related service initiatives. Some of the most impactful projects have been interdisciplinary. Among the highlights would be serving as a founding member of One Book One University, a retention initiative that focuses on students in the freshman year by reinforcing the importance of reading and setting expectations for student success early in their academic career.
I also served for several years on the committee for Undergraduate Student Research Day that highlights the importance of faculty mentoring and showcases the results of dynamic student research projects across the curriculum.
For several years I’ve been involved in the Honors College first as faculty advisor, then Regional Director of Science Olympiad, and this past summer I led a delegation of honors students to Japan to study abroad.
Q: What does outstanding faculty service in higher education mean to you?
KBM: Connecting the dots between research and teaching. Activating our scholarship and teaching in ways that leverage our talents to enhance the various communities we participate in – inside and outside of the academy.
Perhaps most importantly, outstanding faculty service means modeling for students what it means to be a servant leader. If we can teach students to value the sacrifices of others, the achievements of others, and the insights of others, then they will make it their business to improve the world we share.
— Karen Bishop-Morris
Q: Why do you believe service is so important among faculty in higher education?
KBM: I believe service is the mission of higher education. Our enterprise of making, sharing and applying knowledge is ultimately service.
Q: What has been particularly satisfying to you about being so engaged in service endeavors?
KBM: The vibrations of my service work. Inspiring others to want to serve or to do more. With students, especially, seeing them push and attempt what may seem impossible and then surprise themselves by the difference they are able to make for another individual, organization or their home community.
Finally, it’s super gratifying to use service as a mechanism to help students connect their academic and personal lives. When the connection happens students get motivated and focused and realize they have control of their dreams.
Q: How do you believe students can benefit from service provided by our faculty?
KBM: Countless ways. There are so many obvious and specific ways that students benefit from service work our faculty are engaged in: a new or improved policy, an innovative degree program or course, increased volunteer opportunities, or the chance to study abroad.
But much of the service work faculty engage in is invisible and even the benefits may be intangible, and yet without some of the tedious, non-glamorous committee work, students would not enjoy the long-lasting benefits of a Purdue degree.
Q: How do you challenge yourself to continue to grow, learn and serve?
KBM: Challenging myself to continue to grow, learn and serve is an occupational hazard! I am a voracious reader and a writer – two activities that stoke my natural curiosity and adventurous spirit. And I really think the key is that I read widely – not just in my academic area. I begin most days reading The New York Times online; on my nightstand there are issues of The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and a copy of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs replete with post-it notes.
Cultivating relationships with professionals inside and outside of academe helps me stay fresh while helping students stay informed about career opportunities and trends.