Mihalyi selected for Faculty of Distinction award

Story by Spencer Brown, Assistant News Editor

Assistant Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence Marti Mihalyi has been selected as one of 18 recipients of the Faculty of Distinction award from the Kansas Independent College Association (KCIA).

Other awards Mihalyi has received:

Wisconsin Arts Board Individual Fellowship

The Wisconsin Governor’s Award

The Devine Fellowship in Poetry (Ohio)

The Loft Mentor Series Award (Minnesota)

Mihalyi was, to say the least, surprised about the honor.

“I was downright shocked,” Mihalyi said.

The award honors top faculty members at the 18 private colleges and universities within the state of Kansas. Mihalyi, along with other recipients, was honored at a workshop and award luncheon on Oct. 21 in Topeka.

After Mihalyi was nominated by a committee as the top faculty member for the 2013-14 school year at Baker, Brian Posler, executive vice president for academic affairs, submitted her name for the statewide group.

“I was deeply honored because it was such a huge vote of confidence from my colleagues,” Mihalyi said.

Mihalyi, in her third decade of teaching, instructs nine creative writing courses at Baker. When she came to the university, there had not been any creative writing classes offered.

“I started the whole program,” Mihalyi said. “Most of the classes are brand new classes that I designed and proposed over a period of years.”

In addition to being an English professor, Mihalyi is also the adviser to a student-designed and produced literary arts magazine, Watershed, and the adviser to the English honors program, Sigma Tau Delta.

Senior Carly Berblinger, managing editor of Watershed, has taken several creative writing courses from Mihalyi.

“I think she is an imaginative and compassionate teacher,” Berblinger said. “She is first concerned with the student and his or her growth, but she’s so creative and engaging in the way she goes about it.”

Instructing all courses at Baker and being a writer herself, Mihalyi understands that the creative writing process is a long one.

“Students who start out as freshmen or sophomores in my class really reach their full abilities in skill levels in their last two years of school,” Mihalyi said. “And I enjoy taking them right through the whole long process.”

Freshman Mariah Quinn, who originally enrolled in the course Introduction to Creative Writing in order to “pursue a hobby” now is interested in pursuing it as a minor.

“[Mihalyi] is very energetic,” Quinn said. “She seems to really care about both the subject and her students within and outside of her classroom.”

As she continues to teach students the realm of creative writing, Mihalyi said she really “treasure[s] the moments when suddenly lights go on for students in terms of their abilities to understand literature and their ability to gain skill as writers.”