Kathleen Nigro has positively influenced hundreds of University of Missouri–St. Louis students. During her 15 years at UMSL, she has tirelessly worked as a teacher, adviser and community service advocate with the Gender Studies program, Department of English, Pierre Laclede Honors College and several student organizations. Nigro’s passionate commitment to her students has earned her the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the category of Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member.
Nigro, associate teaching professor of English and gender studies at UMSL and a resident of Chesterfield, Mo., will receive a plaque and $1,000 honorarium at the Chancellor’s State of the University Address on Sept. 26.
“Through her teaching she has not only enhanced the quality and delivery of undergraduate and graduate education, but also our students’ and the region’s scholarship and artistic-creative activity,” said Sally Barr Ebest, director of the Gender Studies program and professor of English at UMSL. “Through her advising, she has helped recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse student body; through her community service, she has certainly enhanced the university’s civic engagement for social benefit of the region.”
Nigro advises more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students in the Gender Studies program and teaches about 150 students in three courses a semester. The unique courses she’s developed include Women Writing Nature, Feminism and Witchcraft and Ghost Stories: Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism. Having taught at UMSL since 1998, Nigro continues to relish in opening her students’ eyes to controversial issues they might avoid.
“It is a great reward to read student evaluations that say that they will never look at the world in the same way, or they will never treat people who are different from them without mindfulness,” she said. “I know that my commitment to teaching has led to this curriculum of often-divisive issues, but I also know that I have succeeded in my career as a teaching professor.”
In addition to her classroom and Gender Studies advising roles, Nigro serves as the faculty adviser for PRIZM, American Association for University Women and VOICES for Gender Equality. She also devotes considerable time and energy on community service projects. Her students have praised her for her “remarkable dedication to teaching, nurturing of social responsibility in students and continued service to the region and the university.”
Elizabeth Eckelkamp, associate dean of students for the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Fine Arts and Communication, summed up the sentiment.
“As a fellow teaching faculty member, I completely understand what a heavy teaching load Kathleen carries and how much time it takes to do the job as well as she does,” Eckelkamp said. “Yet she never hesitates to spend time on collaborations with other faculty members or campus offices when she believes that it will benefit our students.”
Nigro earned a master’s degree from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., and doctorate in English from Saint Louis University. In 2000, she earned a graduate certificate from the Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies at UMSL, now called the Gender Studies program.