Faculty Members Honored as Top Teachers, Researchers for 2018-19

Once again, George Fox honored four of its own with the presentation of teaching and research awards for the 2018-19 academic year. At the undergraduate level, Sarita Gallagher and Rhett Luedtke were recognized as the top teacher and researcher, respectively, while at the graduate level Daniel Kang and Leah Payne won the corresponding awards.

Sarita Gallagher

Sarita Gallagher

Undergraduate Teacher of the Year

Gallagher, an associate professor of religious studies, has taught at George Fox for nine years and specializes in courses in cross-cultural ministry, world religions, church history and biblical theology. “I love George Fox’s emphasis on serving the world with compassion and excellence in whatever profession you are in,” she says. “The greatest joy that I have as a professor is seeing my students grow and learn both in their professions and as followers of Christ. I am very honored to win this award. It has been a joy to teach here all these years, and I look forward to many years to come.”

Rhett Luedtke

Rhett Luedtke

Undergraduate Researcher of the Year

Luedtke, a professor of theatre, said he was “completely surprised” by the honor, but he shouldn’t have been. While the award came partly in recognition of his 16 years of directing plays at George Fox (32 shows and counting), the primary reason for his selection resulted from his artistic direction of the Big Bridge Theatre Consortium, a group of 12 college theatre programs he formed three years ago for the purpose of developing new plays dedicated to peace and interfaith conflict. “Given the rise in Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and general xenophobia in our country over the past year, we felt called to commission new plays to foster dialogue on our campuses about religious diversity,” he says. “This work is the pinnacle of the integration of my Christian faith as a Quaker and my work as a theatre artist. I’m excited to see how God blesses our communities through it.”

Daniel Kang

Daniel Kang

Graduate Teacher of the Year

For Kang, an associate professor of physical therapy, there is nothing more satisfying than hearing stories of how his former students are making a difference in their communities. “My accomplishment lies in the impact I am making in future therapists and, in turn, the ripple effect it has on the community,” he says. “It is not just my technical knowledge that I wish to share with our students; rather, I strive to be a positive agent in shaping the character and motivation of future physical therapists. I believe it is in this authentic sharing of myself that translates to worthy teaching.”

Leah Payne

Leah Payne

Graduate Researcher of the Year

Payne’s scholarship has been prolific since she joined the seminary in 2014. Since then, she has authored or coauthored 10 articles and book chapters and has presented 11 juried papers at academic conferences. She has also served on multiple grant teams that have won over $2 million. In addition, she has published multiple articles in Christianity Today and The Washington Post, and she cohosts, with professor Brian Doak, a podcast called Weird Religion, giving her an outlet to discuss “funny explorations of religion and pop culture,” she says. Her first book, Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (2016), was named winner of the Pneuma Book of the Year by the Society for Pentecostal Studies. “I love getting to know my students and being a part of their lives as they make important decisions, explore who they are, and learn about the presence of God in their lives,” Payne says. “Our students are extraordinary!”