Honors faculty member earns Chancellor’s Award for devotion to student success
A theme emerges when asking several University of Missouri–St. Louis students about Kimberly Baldus’ Pierre Laclede Honors College courses. The consensus? The classes are no cakewalk, but you’ll walk away a better writer.
Many attributed Baldus’ propensity for propelling students forward to her unwavering dedication to helping and advising them over long hours outside of the classroom.
“The structure and design of her honors seminars require full participation, and while the workload is challenging, it is matched equally by her level of support for her students,” said Roberta Gordon, an alumna now pursuing an MA in English at UMSL. “Kim doesn’t hold back in giving extensive, useful feedback on papers, and the seminar papers I produced for her – and because of her – are my best undergraduate writing.”
Baldus’ devotion to advising, teaching and mentoring so many honors college students has earned her the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for a Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member. She will receive the award Sept. 16 during the State of the University Address in the J.C. Penney Building at UMSL.
Baldus, a teaching professor, joined UMSL’s honors college faculty in 1997, after earning her doctorate in English from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She also earned an MA and BA, both in English, from the University of Illinois in Urbana.
The honors college courses she has taught run the gamut from Freshman Composition to the senior capstone honors portfolio. Additionally, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses through the Department of English.
As an instructor, Baldus has made it her goal to establish in her classrooms a sense of community where her students become collaborative learners. Readings and assignments in her courses are challenging. She strives, however, to ensure her students not only succeed, but also help their fellow classmates do the same. She uses extensive class discussions and constructive peer feedback to help develop collegiality among her students.
“I consider my role as a guide and support system during the process of writing one of my most important jobs,” Baldus wrote in her teaching philosophy for her Freshman Composition course.
UMSL senior Keunta Thomas could go on and on, raving about Baldus. But if she had to describe her in five words, Thomas said it would be: selfless, honest, kind, patient and effective.
“She always brought the best out of me and pushed me forward,” Thomas said. “She has [had] a lasting impact on my life that goes beyond the honors college.”
Faculty peers echoed the students’ sentiment toward Baldus.
“Kim is always an advocate for her students, one who lets their needs guide her teaching,” said Birgit Noll, chair of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies at UMSL. “During her years at UMSL, she has enriched the lives of many undergraduates and contributed to the intellectual strength of the honors curriculum.”
Among her many roles in the honors college, Baldus is also the coordinator for the First-Year Experience Program. Her honors colleagues said she has been instrumental in broadening the scope of the student support and developmental program. It has proven crucial as a retention tool, given the sizable population of first-generation college students enrolled at UMSL.
Keeta Holmes, instructional designer and assistant director for the Center for Teaching and Learning, pointed out in a nomination letter that Baldus has long embraced technology-rich and research-based instruction.
“She stands out as someone who is both a master in her discipline and a masterful teacher of literature and composition,” Holmes said. “She understands what it takes to engage students inside and outside of the classroom and help students find their voice in writing. Her commitment to student learning and her respect for pedagogy make her an invaluable member of the honors college and UMSL faculty.”
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