Dr. Kris Swenson, associate professor of English and technical communication at the University of Missouri-Rolla, was named the 2006 Woman of the Year at UMR Tuesday, April 18, during the campus’ annual Woman of the Year luncheon.
UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III presented the award, which is sponsored by the chancellor’s office to recognize an outstanding female faculty member who has helped improve the campus climate for women and has served as a role model for other faculty and students through her research, scholarship and service. Nominations were submitted from the campus, and a subcommittee reviewed the nominations, selecting Swenson as this year’s recipient.
This is the 10th year for the award, which is funded by UMR graduate Cynthia Tang, the founder of Insight Industries Inc. of Platteville, Wis., and a past president of the UMR Board of Trustees. Last year’s winner was Dr. Frances Haemmerlie Montgomery, Curators’ Teaching Professor of psychology.
Swenson joined the UMR faculty in 1997 as an assistant professor of English and was named associate professor in 2003. Her research expertise includes gender and sexuality theory and the novel. She teaches courses in 19th and 20th century British literature, technical writing and introduction to criticism, in addition to introductory English courses.
The author of “Medical Women and Victorian Fiction,” published in 2004, as well as numerous scholarly articles, Swenson is working on a second book about Arabella Kenealy.
Swenson received a Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Iowa in 1995. She received a master of arts degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1989, and a bachelor of arts degree in English from Luther College in 1987.
Carney noted Swenson’s deep commitment to the university and, specifically, to her students, who recognize her as a fine teacher, positive role model and mentor. During her tenure at UMR, she has received several College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Awards.
In her role as coordinator of UMR’s freshman English program, Swenson led the Books-In-Common initiative. Through this program, faculty teaching all sections of introductory English teach the same book. The program gives incoming freshman a sense of community by giving them something in common to talk about. In conjunction with the program, Swenson coordinates a lecture, bringing a leading scholar to campus to discuss the chosen book; and a writing contest among freshmen reading the book.
Swenson organized and led a search committee that resulted in hiring a Renaissance literature professor. She is alsos a member of the UMR Provost search committee.
Swenson’s students often comment that she is a hard teacher with high expectations, but that they like and respect her and learn more from her than they do from many of their other instructors.