Twice Decorated: Leah Middlebrook
On May 6th University President Michael Schill, trailing an entourage of friends and colleagues, unexpectedly interrupted a routine Comparative Literature faculty meeting. The purpose of this surprise visit was to present Associate Professor Leah Middlebrook with the Thomas F. Herman Distinguished Teaching Award. The award recognizes Leah’s adroit manner of making students’ contemporary literacy productive for the understanding of major, often historically remote literary texts (Cervantes’ Don Quixote, to name an example close to her heart), as well as her work as the department’s Director of Pedagogy. In her role as DOP, Leah has pioneered and promulgated practical approaches to classroom teaching in an era of shifting learning styles and changed cultural expectations around literature and literacy.
Leah is already the recipient of the Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching, which honors teachers who demonstrate excellence early in their careers. The Herman Award, her second major decoration of this kind, confirms her continued, indeed redoubled, commitment to thoughtful, imaginative and energetic teaching and mentorship.