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Teaching award recipient helps students open doors through writing

May 21st, 2019

Robert Milliman presents the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award to Siobhan Scarry.

Bethel College’s Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award, presented each year at commencement, recognizes a faculty member who “has made an outstanding contribution to teaching.”

The 2019 recipient is Siobhán Scarry, Ph.D., associate professor of English.

Scarry began teaching at Bethel in 2014. She has a B.A. from the University of Arizona, both an M.A in English literature and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“In her role as an adviser, Dr. Scarry is proactive and positive, always working in the best interest of the student,” said Robert Milliman, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, when presenting the award. “As a dedicated Liberal Education Adviser, she epitomizes the engaged student advocate.”

Scarrys scholarly work includes articles in Paideuma and Southern Humanities Review, and a contribution to a book of essays on the poet Robert Duncan. Her creative work includes the 2014 collection of poems Pilgrimly (Parlor Press), with two more books of poetry in progress. 

She has developed the Visiting Writer Series at Bethel, serves as the adviser for the biannual literary publication YAWP!, and headed up the creation of a Writing and Publishing Certificate that was added to the curriculum in 2018.

Comments from students as well as peers help determine the recipient of the Schrag Teaching Award.

One student in the basic class Critical Writing said that, whether or not they took another writing course, “I leave this [one] with a higher confidence in my writing skills, and tools to succeed in academic writing.”

A student in an upper-level English class remarked, “This class stretched me, and I’m really grateful for that stretching – it will really affect the way I live my life,” and another said, “[Writing opened] a doorway for me to have my voice heard when I otherwise find it very difficult to speak.”

The Schrag Teaching Award recipient is chosen by a committee that includes the most recent recipient and the student body president, along with the academic dean. 

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.