Saint Mary’s honored 2014 Professor of the Year Myrna Santiago last Wednesday with a Soda Center reception followed with speeches by Provost Bethami Dobkin and Santiago. Judging by the room packed with faculty and students, both past and present, it’s no surprise that Santiago received the award.
As a professor in the History Department who also works in other departments such as Seminar and Women’s and Gender Studies, Santiago’s many accomplishments and dedication to her students are just a few of the many traits that make the popular teacher such an outstanding presence at Saint Mary’s, Dobkin said.
“I’ve come to understand this award as much more of a career achievement award. That is, we are celebrating people who are phenomenal in every way,” Dobkin said. “And in Myrna’s case, we have someone who has not just career achievements, but also a compelling personal history and someone who personifies our mission and aspirations.”
Many students and faculty noted Santiago’s impact on the Saint Mary’s community in their letters for her nomination. “In Myrna, Saint Mary’s has a professor firmly engaged in the kind of intellectual rigor and personal commitment that stands the college apart,” Dobkin read from one student letter.
Santiago’s speech also made it clear why she is so beloved. Spending little time talking about herself, she instead celebrated the achievements and resilience of students and focused on her love for teaching, describing her classes as a way to “time travel to places and times past and explore with reckless abandon.”
As to the future of Saint Mary’s, Santiago focused on the importance of inclusion, free thinking and leadership, and the need to ensure that Saint Mary’s “is a college that changes lives, that it lives up to its mission of inclusion and equality, that deliberately practices the art of nonconformity in all of its manifestations.”