George Fox selects top teacher, researcher award recipients

A psychology professor and a sociologist who has published four books in eight years were selected as George Fox University’s top undergraduate teacher and researcher for the 2010-11 academic year, respectively.

At the graduate level, a seminary professor and a professional counselor who serves as director of the school’s Trauma Response Institute were named the year's top graduate researcher and teacher.

Following are short profiles on each.

Top Undergrad Teacher: Kris Kays

Kris Kays, Top Undergrad Teacher

Kays, who has taught courses in the school’s psychology major since 2005, earned the teaching honor for her contributions as an instructor, mentor and advisor. 

In addition to her adjunct position with the George Fox doctor of psychology (PsyD) program, Kays worked a busy schedule this year covering classes in counseling, human sexuality, abnormal psychology, general psychology and first-year seminar. She also taught a section of the university’s Liberal Arts and Critical Issues course, which engages senior students in research and response to a public issue of current significance.

Colleagues praise Kays for her ability to use class activities, lectures, presentations and creative assignments to keep students engaged.

“I’ve had some amazing role models and colleagues, and honestly, I couldn’t do this job nearly as well if I wasn’t surrounded by so many high-quality people who support what we do as a department,” said Kays, who earned her bachelor’s degree at George Fox in 1987 and her doctor of psychology at the school in 1994. “It sounds cliché, but you need that support – and that’s not something you get at every school.”

Top Undergrad Researcher: Lisa McMinn

Lisa McMinn, Top Undergrad Researcher

McMinn, a professor in the university’s sociology major, received the research award for her extensive teaching, writing and speaking engagements as a Christian sociologist. She was honored for scholarship that impacts both the campus and the community at large.

McMinn’s scholarship is expressed in a variety of outlets, including books, articles, blogs – including the Christianity Today blog – and speaking engagements. On campus, she served as a panelist addressing homosexuality and the Bible and presented a LACI lecture on “Seeing Sexuality: Understanding the Cultural Landscape.”

Off campus, McMinn’s scholarly activities include presenting papers at national professional meetings. She’s also been a chapel speaker at Asbury College, Trinity Western University and Wheaton College.

As an author over the past eight years, McMinn has published Growing Strong Daughters (two editions), The Contented Soul: The Art of Savoring Life and Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World. Her most recent book is Walking Gently on the Earth: Making Faithful Choices About Food, Energy, Shelter and More.

“I was surprised to win the award – I spend less time doing straight-forward research than I presume most winners of the award do,” McMinn said. “Besides, my writing is warm and inviting, but it’s also edgy and can make readers uncomfortable. I’d like to think the award is an affirmation that I’m inviting enough in my writing to help readers stick it out even given the corresponding discomfort they may feel.”

Top Graduate Researcher: Roger Nam

Roger Nam, Top Graduate Researcher

Nam, an assistant professor of Old Testament studies at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, was named the top graduate researcher.

He joined the seminary three years ago and teaches Old Testament, advanced Hebrew, biblical theology, ancient Near East and spiritual formation courses. In addition, he has done 14 academic presentations before his peers and published four peer-reviewed articles in the past four years.

This past year, Nam completed the manuscript for his first book, Portrayals of Economic Exchange in the Book of Kings, and delivered a paper at the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Atlanta. He also serves on two national steering committees of the SBL, “Social Scientific Approaches to the Hebrew Scriptures” and “Economics in the Biblical World.”

He recently received a summer grant from the Wabash Center to research “Innerbiblical Exegesis in Genesis 1 and Post-exilic Prophecy.” And this summer, he’ll present lectures to the Old Testament Colloquium at both Philips-Universität Marburg and Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz in Germany. Shortly thereafter, he’ll deliver a paper at the Aram Conference on Trade and Seafaring in the Ancient Near East at Oxford University.

“I am deeply humbled and honored by this affirmation from my peers, whom I respect so much,” Nam said of the award. “Also, I am grateful to be part of a university that deeply values excellence in scholarship.”

Top Graduate Teacher: Anna Berardi

Anna Berardi, Top Graduate Teacher

Berardi, a professor of marriage and family therapy, earned the award for top graduate teacher. She has more than 20 years of clinical experience in private practice, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor, and is an approved American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor.

As a therapist and educator, Berardi specializes in the application of attachment theory and social-cultural dynamics and its influence on our neurobiology as it relates to working with individuals, couples and families across the lifespan. She brings this perspective into all courses she teaches, including the post-graduate certificate in trauma response services, a training program within the Trauma Response Institute, which she launched to sponsor training, research and service activities in support of individuals and communities facing traumatic events.

In addition to teaching the traumatology specialty courses, Berardi teaches counseling degree program courses in family and couples therapy, human growth and development, psychopathology, personality and counseling theory, and clinical supervision and training.

“When Dean Linda Samek made the (award) announcement at our graduate hooding ceremony, I was overwhelmed by my students’ appreciation,” Berardi said. “They work so hard to not only learn their profession, but to allow it to transform their own lives as well. I stand in awe of them – their commitment to growth and change, and to helping others engage in the same. They tolerate much challenge and pushing from all of their professors. It was heartwarming watching them express their gratitude through this award.”