The highlight of Thursday’s faculty meeting came at the very end when faculty association president Deb Williams awarded English Chair Keith Geekie with the FA faculty leadership award. The award, established a decade ago, has been awarded only once before. Keith was nominated by Division Dean Larry Reynolds and the award was enthusiastically endorsed by the FA executive committee.
The presentation of the award was a surprise for the whole faculty and for Keith. As Deb began listing the award recipient’s activities and involvement on campus, every faculty member sitting in the English section began to grin in recognition. The last to catch on was, of course, Keith herself. When her name was announced, Keith (as moved as I have ever seen her) worked her way to the stage to the sound of thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Diane Davis expressed the opinion of the department in an open email to Keith, writing “Several of your colleagues, while leaving the meeting today after the announcement you had won the faculty leadership award, commented they couldn’t imagine anyone more worthy of this award than you, and even before the name was announced, their certainty that is had to be you. You are a person who advocates far more for others than yourself, and who graciously deflects praise and shines the spotlight on the rest of us. I can’t tell you how much it means to us, then, to witness the entirety of our college community united in their appreciation of all you do. For the countless hours you spend often behind the scenes looking out for our students, our faculty, our curriculum, our courses, our department, division and discipline, I thank you. Most of us will never know how often you have pulled this group together, fought to keep our division intact, unified us and strengthened us. I’m delighted the spotlight is on you, where it belongs.”
Her acceptance speech has been reenacted by Merritt Wever here.