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Society for Classical Studies honors Dr. Karen Rosenbecker with Excellence in Teaching Award

Not every department gets hit by a hurricane, but not every department has a Karen Rosenbecker to help it rebuild.  In the aftermath of Katrina, as Dr. Rosenbecker arrived to take up her assistant professorship at Loyola University New Orleans, Classics was struggling to deal with sharply declining college enrollments and a required merger with Modern Languages.  Dr. Rosenbecker stepped in and immediately revamped the undergraduate Greek program, whose enrollments were low and unstable.  She made the classroom more interactive, worked with technology services to create digital supplements for Alpha to Omega (supplements which have been praised as models of language pedagogy), and coached and mentored peer tutors.  Enrollments now have nearly doubled and students continue on into the intermediate and upper level courses.  And Greek was only one arena; Dr. Rosenbecker also helped develop a new major in Classical Civilization; added Greek, Latin and now Classical Humanities to Loyola’s honors program; and set up a mentoring program for classics majors to help them present their research papers at venues like The Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS).

In the classroom, Dr. Rosenbecker welcomes students while she challenges them.  Students praise her combination of “playful encouragement and rigorous material” and tell stories of her exceptional and dedicated assistance with applications to graduate school or her commitment to students who needed special advising to deal with unexpected obstacles.  A student who eventually became an Arabist says flatly that Dr. Rosenbecker’s approach to language learning has been one of the most valuable—and transferable—tools he has ever acquired, and this made him an unofficial tutor to his fellow Arabic students when he began learning that language.  Another student reminisces about a classical civilizations class on justice where the students staged an Athenian trial, complete with “ballot-stuffing and bribery” (at Dr. Rosenbecker’s suggestion) to make it more authentic.  Her classical civilization classes, understandably, are always full, with students on waiting lists hoping to get in.  The Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS) has already recognized her innovative and influential pedagogy with their teaching award.

Today, Classics at Loyola is a thriving program—not only independent once again, but home to over two dozen majors and minors in spite of the small size of the faculty (2.5).  The honors Greek program has been cited as a template for all honors language programs by the program’s director.  As a recent alumna says, the best teachers “do not model their students upon their own images, but rather give them the tools to sculpt themselves.”  For the tools she has given her students and her colleagues, the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) is happy to honor Dr. Karen Rosenbecker with the Society for Classical Studies Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level.