The David J. Prior COPLAC Award was created in 2012 to recognize senior-level undergraduates whose academic careers and future goals have been shaped by the transformative power of the liberal arts and sciences experience at a COPLAC institution. Each student's reflective personal essay highlights one or more of the following features of COPLAC's student-centered approach to teaching: emphasis on active learning, ethical reasoning, interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge, community engagement, critical and reflective skills, and connections between liberal learning and informed, active citizenship.
The legacy of David Prior - his career-long commitment to superior undergraduate teaching, his desire as a consortium leader to make the outcomes of an education at our public liberal arts institutions widely recognized, and his deep concern that all students, regardless of financial circumstances, have equal access to a high-quality education anchored in the liberal arts and sciences - is the inspiration for this award.
Nathaniel Duggan, University of Maine at Farmington
Nathaniel Duggan is a dual English and Creative Writing major in his senior year at the University of Maine at Farmington. He primarily writes fiction and poetry. A Maine resident, he has many pieces that include rocky coastlines, pine trees, and deep-sea crustaceans. After graduating, he'd like to pursue an MFA in creative writing.
Read his essay here.
The COPLAC Board of Directors, in memory of the contributions of Charles Dunn to the advancement of the consortium and to student success in the public liberal arts sector, had established an annual faculty award in his name.
As President of Henderson State University for twenty-two years, and as a COPLAC President (2000-2001) and Board member for ten years, Dr. Charles Dunn placed student well-being and academic success ahead of all else, affirming Henderson State University's reputation as the "School with a Heart."
Charles Dunn understood that members of the faculty play the essential role in advancing this mission. Therefore the COPLAC Award recognizes a faculty member whose commitment to student success goes "above and beyond" the classroom and office, the traditional roles of teacher, academic advisor, and mentor. She/he will have demonstrated, over the course of many years, extraordinary attention to students as individuals who sometimes face unique challenges, both on and off campus, that may compromise their academic performance.
Examples of student-centered service "above and beyond" are myriad and include: hosting an undergraduate who would otherwise be alone for the holidays, stepping in to assist with transportation to the airport or for a medical appointment, or extending a gesture of friendship when a loved one has been lost. The review committee seeks to recognize a COPLAC faculty colleague who consistently practices the vision of a public liberal arts campus as a community dedicated to learning on a human scale.
Joel King, University of Maine at Farmington
Joel King is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Maine at Farmington. He received his undergraduate degree in mathematics and psychology from the State University of New York Binghamton. Joel argues that some of the greatest contributions to his education came from his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Maktab Rendah Saens School in Malaysia. He was a teacher in a program where Malay children from villages throughout the country were given the resources, education, and opportunities to pursue their dreams and achieve their optimal development. Shortly after, in his role as a stay-at-home Dad for his infant daughter, he realized the tremendous potential that exists in every child. This motivated him to obtain his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University in 1987 in the field of Human Development and Family Studies. Joel has been at UMF for 28 years. He has been selected as Faculty Member of the Year nine times, an award he cherishes because it is an honor given by the students. His research interests include intervention programs such as the Family Development Project, Adult Education, and the Rural Special Education Project. These programs address issues related to poverty, parenting, children, and access to education. In the summers, he has joined efforts with the Autism Society of Maine to mentor UMF students at Camp Summit, a camp for children with autism.