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English chair McBratney wins Distinguished Faculty Award

March 24th, 2011

John McBratney, chair of John Carroll’s English department, was named the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Faculty Award. The award recognizes excellence in classroom teaching, scholarship, advisement and leadership of students and community service.

Associate Academic Vice President Jim Krukones said McBratney was chosen because of his “outstanding record of achievement overall with respect to the criteria for the award.”

McBratney, who began teaching at JCU in 1988, teaches and specializes in Victorian literature, and also teaches romantic and Indian literature. Along with his credited teaching skills, McBratney has contributed a great deal of service to the John Carroll community as the English department chair and as a published writer.

McBratney always knew he wanted to be a teacher. He chose teaching at a college level because he was intrigued by the intellectual challenges it exposed.

“I always love to read. I love language and writing, and I am fascinated by words,” said McBratney. “Writing is the one thing I enjoy most about my job. When I get into the zone, there’s nothing more I enjoy.”

He has written several articles on Victorian and British modernist literature and wrote the book, “Imperial Subjects, Imperial Space: Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction of the Native-Born.”

His favorite part about being a professor is learning and interacting with students. He enjoys learning new things from students and hearing what they have to say. Whenever he hears feedback from students that he hasn’t heard before he is taken aback by it and intrigued to learn more.

What makes learning fun and interactive in the classroom, McBratney believes, is giving students questions.

“Questions excite me,” he said. “They are challenging. Sometimes they [my students] are quiet after I pose questions.”

His main responsibility as department chair is to take care of what his other colleagues want to do. He finds his first priority is to enable the growth of his fellow scholars and also his students as well.

McBratney was shocked about winning the award.

“I was stupefied,” McBratney said. “I thought I was really a long shot.”

A committee of three previous award winners – the president of JCU’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu (the Jesuit honor society), the president of Student Union and an alumnus and member of the administration determine the winner of the award, which is the highest honor JCU can bestow upon a faculty member.

“It’s always a difficult decision when you’re considering the accomplishments of several worthy candidates,” Krukones said. “After all, an individual would not be nominated in the first place unless the nominator thought that person had a realistic chance of receiving the award.  For one thing, putting together the nomination dossier takes a lot of effort. In spite of the challenge, it’s actually a pleasant, even inspiring task for committee members to read about the many significant achievements of the faculty.  And the letters of recommendation, especially those from students, are often deeply moving.”

According to Krukones, nominations for the award can come from colleagues, staff, administration, alum and/or students. The nominations must include a letter of nomination, the candidate’s curriculum vitae and several letters of recommendation. To be a candidate, the faculty member nominated must have had three years of full-time service to JCU.