2010 Lindberg Award Recipient
Thomas Newkirk, Professor of English
Award Announced March 24, 2010
Thomas Newkirk, Professor of English, has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the Lindberg Award, given annually to the outstanding Teacher-Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts.
Professor Newkirk earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, M.Ed. at Boston State College, and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. He was appointed to the UNH faculty in 1977. He has been a prolific scholar and dedicated teacher for over three decades, by all indications as energetic and enthusiastic on both fronts now as he ever was.
Professor Newkirk’s scholarly pursuits focus on literacy, composition, and the teaching of writing. He has authored four books, including the recent Holding on to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For (Heinemann, 2009), in which he defends the skills and judgment of teachers against the “cult of efficiency” represented by top-down mandates and prescribed testing. While interested in literacy at all levels, Professor Newkirk has shown a particular interest over the last decade in boys and literacy. He has published multiple journal articles on the subject as well as Misreading Masculinity: Boys, Literacy, and Popular Culture (Heinemann, 2002), a book that advocates harnessing popular culture’s influence to positive effect in boys’ learning. In addition to his authored works, Professor Newkirk has co-authored, edited, or co-edited another 11 books and published scores of journal articles and book chapters. His most recent co-edited volume is an homage to the late Donald Murray, the former UNH faculty member who was himself dedicated to the teaching of writing.
Scholarly focus has, in Professor Newkirk’s case, resulted in significant contributions to programmatic offerings at the University. Professor Newkirk designed the Ph.D. program in composition, and developed and administers three innovative programs that seek to advance literacy and/or literacy pedagogy. The New Hampshire Literacy Institutes, begun in 1980, is a graduate-level summer program that annually attracts 150 teachers and others from around the country and beyond who wish to broaden their writing skills and approach to teaching writing. The Writer’s Academy is a summer program for children in grades 6 through 12 that focuses on writing, editing, and publishing original stories, poems, and plays. The Learning Through Teaching Program is an in-service K-12 teacher education program that last year served 190 teachers. Professor Newkirk deftly directs all three programs and has done so year after year.
Though his scholarly and administrative pursuits are demanding (as well as his prodigious service commitments, which are beyond the scope of this letter to enumerate), Professor Newkirk is an equally committed and accomplished teacher. His courses are integral to the graduate composition program, and he keeps his connections to undergraduate students alive by regularly teaching first-year and other writing courses, and instructing senior English teaching majors in composition pedagogy. At both levels of instruction, students consistently and highly praise Professor Newkirk for his enthusiasm, knowledge, expertly-led class discussions, and respect for his students. At the undergraduate level, such comments as “Professor Newkirk did an amazing job,” “We have the best discussions,” and “He’s pretty much the man” are not uncommon. At the graduate level, “Tom Newkirk is an amazing professor” and “Professor Newkirk is one of the nicest, most interested, and dedicated professors I have ever had” are the sentiments one typically finds. In addition, Professor Newkirk regularly mentors students, directs dissertations, and sits on multiple exam and dissertation committees. His dedication to his students is unquestionable. His skills as a teacher are formidable.
Professor Newkirk has demonstrated that he possesses the highest qualities of scholarship and teaching and is most deserving of the Lindberg Award. The College is proud to count him as one of its own.