University of Missouri-Columbia professor receives Thomas Jefferson Award
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Award recognizes faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities and service
COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Bob Schwartz today awarded the second of ten UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2017 to University of Missouri-Columbia Professor of Literacy Studies Betsy Baker.
Schwartz—accompanied by UM System Interim Chief of Staff David Russell and MU Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development Mark McIntosh—surprised Baker with the Thomas Jefferson Award while she was teaching a Qualitative Methods course. As recipient, Baker is recognized as a faculty member who rises above excellence and demonstrates clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities and service to the University and humankind and was also awarded $10,000.
For more than 20 years, Baker has served on the MU College of Education faculty. Her personal goal is to enable teachers, parents, administrators, policymakers and journalists to have free access to the best research conducted in literacy studies. To accomplish, Baker created the Voice of Literacy podcast in 2008. The library, with more than 120 podcasts, advances free public education that advocates for tolerance of different ideas to solve public problems encountered by illiteracy.
“These podcasts clearly extend the reach of the authors interviewed and their work,” David Reinking, Eugene T. Moore Professor of Education at Clemson University wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Thus, her efforts to advance public education and extend the research into the domain of applying knowledge to the solution of public problems, specifically in the area of education, also consistent with the criteria for the Thomas Jefferson Award.”
Baker has won numerous awards throughout her career including: The William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching in 2012, the Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology, among others for her pioneering contributions to literacy studies.
“She is one of the most forward-looking thinkers in our field concerning the ways technology can be used to further our work as literacy educators and researchers,” Vanderbilt Professor Deborah Wells wrote. “She has made outstanding contributions in the area of technology integration in literacy education and has creatively employed new technologies to disseminate her own and other scholars’ research with the aim of improving instruction.”
Beyond teaching and disseminating research, Baker has contributed to the body of work in the literacy field. She has authored or co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed papers and chapters in edited volumes. She secured funding in excess of $500,000 for research from external sources, including Verizon and the Department of Education.
“Such funding is extremely competitive,” wrote nominator Victoria Risko, Professor Emerita at Vanderbilt University. “With this funding, Dr. Baker has produced over twenty-five multimedia cases for teacher preparation within the last decade. The quality of these productions has no parallel; there is no other resource that can be compared to the quality, diversity, and impact of these multimedia materials.”
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. Baker will be formally recognized by UM System President Mun Choi during an awards celebration to be held in June.
From left to right: Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Bob Schwartz, Interim Chief of Staff David Russell, Professor Betsy Baker and Associate Dean John Lannin.
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