Professor of English, Gender Studies honored with UM System President’s Award for Service

Surrounded by students and colleagues, Professor of English and Director of Gender Studies Sally Barr Ebest (center with envelope) was surprised Thursday afternoon by UMSL Chancellor Tom George on behalf of the UM System with a 2016 President’s Award for Service. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Surrounded by students and colleagues, Professor of English and Director of Gender Studies Sally Barr Ebest (center with envelope) was surprised Thursday afternoon by UMSL Chancellor Tom George on behalf of the UM System with a 2016 President’s Award for Service. (Photo by August Jennewein)

When University of Missouri–St. Louis faculty member Sally Barr Ebest stepped into Lucas Hall 494 to attend a departmental reading earlier today, she didn’t know that major congratulations were imminent.

UMSL Chancellor Tom George surprised Ebest on behalf of the University of Missouri System, awarding her the President’s Award for Service. The seventh of eight UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2016, it includes a $5,000 award and recognizes faculty for distinguished service and exceptional contributions to achieving the university’s goals.

Ebest, a professor of English and director of gender studies at UMSL, has been a constant source of service within the UMSL community for almost three decades. She joined the university in 1987 as director of freshman English and has since served as a mentor to hundreds of students.

Her work has elevated the level of mentoring provided to graduate assistants, resulting in numerous articles and research grants as well as a dramatic increase in the number of teaching assistant applicants to the university. In 2001, she developed UMSL’s first campus-wide teaching assistant orientation and was the first in the country to expand the program to include a track for research assistants.

She also developed UMSL’s graduate Certificate in University Teaching. The program allows graduate students from across disciplines to prepare for careers in teaching through course development, classroom and lab management, grading and assessment, scholarly productivity, use of technology and more.

“The teaching practicum enhances the UMSL experience by offering students practically the only opportunity for them to reflect on their teaching, to be observed and to receive feedback,” wrote nominator Kathleen Nigro, associate teaching professor of English. “Through its format, CUT promotes social and academic interactions and high-impact learning experiences; moreover, it is used as a recruiting tool by departments such as psychology and political science.”

In 2010, Ebest was named director of the UMSL Gender Studies Program. In this role, she has collaborated with all four UM System campuses to present a STEM symposium, initiated a new online Gender Studies certificate for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and developed three certificate programs: Women’s Leadership, Military and Veterans Studies, and Gender and the Military. In 2014, she led the planning committee for Missouri’s first Transgender Spectrum Conference, which has attracted more than 400 participants annually and earned UMSL the Show Me Award sponsored by SAGE and PROMO.

“Sally is a leader in the mentorship of graduate students and junior faculty for excellence in university instruction. She is a visionary leader of the Gender Studies Program, known for fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations and bringing thought-provoking speakers and conferences to the St. Louis campus,” wrote nominator Thomas Meuser, associate professor and director of the Gerontology Program.

Ebest has authored numerous books, including “Writing from A to Z,” the royalties from which she assigned to a department fund to provide financial support for students to attend national conferences. She serves on the Mentoring Committee of the National Women’s Studies Association and as an advisory board member to UMSL’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She is a past recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Ebest will be formally recognized by UM System Interim President Michael Middleton during an awards celebration to be held in June.

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