The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have named Dr. Kateryna Schray of Marshall the 2014 West Virginia Professor of the Year. Schray was among nearly 400 top professors in the United States who were finalists.
Schray, an English professor, describes her teaching philosophy as “embarrassingly simple: provide students with a supportive learning environment, identify and build on their strengths, and make each person an active participant in his/her own education, all the while remembering that learning is inherently joyful.”
She credited colleagues for playing a large part in her receiving the Professor of the Year award.
“I am so grateful for and incredibly humbled by this recognition, but it is so very important for me to put this in context,” she said. “My college seeks out and recruits committed teachers, and at every step of my career my colleagues and my chair have supported and encouraged me in my teaching vocation. I have the best colleagues a professor could hope for.”
Schray was in Washington, D. C. last month when the national and state winners were announced and honored at an awards luncheon at the National Press Club. She also attended an evening congressional reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
She said she considers herself a “pretty good” representative of her department.
“All of us strive to make our classes substantive, meaningful, productive and memorable,” she said. “In addition, I’ve had the privilege to team teach with great teachers at Marshall—Jamie Warner, Susan Gilpin, Caroline Perkins, Steve Mewaldt, Bill Price, just to name a few.”
Most of all, Schray said, she continues to be “absolutely amazed” by her students.
“Their ideas, their insights, their courage, their cleverness and upbeat natures, their generosity towards one another, their desire to serve others, their determination to make the world a better place,” she said. “I cannot imagine a more rewarding career and I still can’t believe how lucky I am. I have a lot to be grateful for, more than I can say.”
Schray, who has been at Marshall since 1996, when she was hired as an assistant professor of English, said she also greatly appreciates the work done by her colleagues at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
“Truly these teachers do the heavy lifting and I am in awe of their talents,” she said. “Now that my oldest child is in high school, I recognize how much I am indebted to the teachers who have preceded me and I am so very grateful. I’ve also come to understand the important role a good principal plays, and the contributions of the essential people behind the scenes: school secretaries, counselors and specialists.”
Schray earned her Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of North Carolina in 1997. She received her bachelor’s degree from La Salle University and her master’s from Georgetown University. She was named the Marshall University Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award Recipient for 2012-13, and was the keynote speaker at the university’s Winter Commencement last December. She also received the Pickens-Queen Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001 and the Reynolds Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009.
She is the fifth professor in Marshall history to have won the prestigious award. The university’s previous recipients include Dr. Karen Mitchell, a mathematics professor, in 1995; Dr. John McKernan, an English professor, in 2000; Dr. Steven Mewaldt, a psychology professor, in 2003; and Dan Hollis, a journalism professor, in 2012.
CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program since 1981. Additional support for the program is received from Phi Beta Kappa, which sponsors the congressional reception, the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education and other higher education associations.
Schray was selected from among faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.
Photo: Dr. Kateryna Schray, second from left, works with three students, from left, Cassidy Dutcher, Chelsea Miller and Cayce Blankenship. Schray said all three are her former students who inspire her to keep striving for excellence and exemplify why she has “the best job in the world.” Photo by Rick Haye