About the Award
The Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award recognizes excellence in contributing directly and indirectly to student learning through teaching, research, and creative activities; advising; academic program development; and educational leadership.
Becca Gercken received this award at the Distinguished Teaching Awards ceremony on April 27, 2017.
Each year, the Alumni Association is proud to join the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost in supporting the Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize the outstanding work of U of M educators. Recipients of the awards are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
About Becca Gercken
- Associate Professor
- Department of English and American Indian Studies
- Division of the Humanities, University of Minnesota Morris
In 2007 Becca Gercken and two colleagues founded UMM’s American Indian Studies program and major, which in eight years has grown into the fifth most popular major on campus. The program’s popularity speaks to Gercken’s ability to present culturally sensitive topics to students.
In discussions inside and often outside the classroom, her students take on intellectually—and even emotionally—difficult material, inspired by a teacher who refuses to impose her own opinions and makes it clear that each person’s experience is valuable. Students discover how to learn from each other, a skill that serves them well in later life.
“As an instructor, Dr. Gercken excels in linking her course materials to our role as global citizens,” writes a former student.
As principal investigator for a Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and Teagle Foundation course-sharing grant, she was instrumental in allowing students at Morris and four other COPLAC schools to take American Indian studies classes that any of the five schools offered.
As an English and writing teacher, she is credited with opening multiple perspectives and showing students what literature, critical thinking, and writing have to offer. Says another former student: “While I was not an English major or minor, I can trace my success as a student to two of her classes: College Writing and Sports Literature and Writing.”
“By sharing my research interests with students, I demonstrate that even the most specialized of topics can be placed into a larger discourse that tells a story across texts and even across disciplines.”
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