The Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia each year honors an outstanding faculty member at a West Virginia college or university. The award winner receives a $10,000 cash prize, with smaller awards to the other finalists. The Professor of the Year award is presented with financial support from United Bank.
According to Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Gayle Ormiston, “Dr. Schray is well recognized for her gift of connecting with students of diverse backgrounds and motivating them to achieve the highest levels of performance. The impact of her contributions to the university, its students and the broader community Marshall serves is without question significant.”
Schray feels that next to stepping into a classroom, her favorite part of the workday is meeting with students in her office. She was honored to have been asked to speak at the Freshman Convocation for the Marshall University incoming class in both 2009 and 2013. She said, “The whole idea behind having a faculty member address the new class is to offer advice for success, both academic and personal, during that critical first year, an important investment in student well-being, safety and retention.”
Schray’s work extends beyond the confines of Marshall University. Through work she undertook during a sabbatical in 2010-11, she has become an in-demand speaker on using writing in the elementary and middle school classrooms to enhance student learning and skills and regularly works with these students and teachers in the classroom. She recently expanded her efforts by involving her freshman students to work with young writers at the elementary and middle school level.
The goal was to help her students become better writers. However, her students made substantial connections with their elementary school experience and genuinely enjoyed being needed.
“When our state government funded the Pathways program for certifying those teaching English out of field, they had to assume that an individual such as Kateryna Schray existed and that she would take on this almost impossible task and turn her work into a public good,” said Dr. Jane Hill, professor and English department chair.
John Van Kirk, an English professor and colleague, described Schray this way: “Unquestionably a first-rate teacher, a serious scholar and a generous colleague, authoritative without ever being authoritarian, she teaches and writes from a deep love of her subject matter, a love of language, and a love of teaching itself and the relationships with students that comes with it.”
Shaina Taylor, a former student currently in law school at William and Mary, said that “Dr. Schray does more than excel in her outstanding innovation, ample creativity, and professional leadership. Quite simply, she sets the standard. She raises the bar.”
In addition, Schray has contributed to the West Virginia education community by serving as an on-line RESA Pathways Certification Program Instructor for state high school teachers, conducting writing workshops for Cabell County elementary schools, serving as the president of the West Virginia Association of College English Teachers, and serving as a writing mentor to the Yeager Scholars Program, Marshall’s most prestigious academic student merit program.
“As you can see, Dr. Schray is the real deal,” Ormiston said. “She demonstrates excellence in all aspects of her contributions to the university as a faculty member—a dedicated teacher and extremely productive scholar. We congratulate her as well as the other finalists for this award, and thank them all for their commitment to first-class higher education in West Virginia and to their students.”
Schray received a B.A. in both German and English from La Salle University, an M.A. in British Literature from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She has been teaching at Marshall University since 1996. The University previously awarded Professor Schray with its top two awards: the Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award in 2013 and the Reynolds Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009.
Dr. Mary Elizabeth Ellzey, English and modern language professor at Shepherd University, was first runner-up for this year’s Professor of the Year. Dr. David Cerbone, philosophy professor at West Virginia University; Dr. Powsiri Klinkhachorn, computer science and electrical engineering professor at the West Virginia University Benjamin H. Statler College of Engineering; and Dr. Lisa Reilly, physical science and mathematics professor at Bethany College, also received prizes as finalists for the award.