Finkelstein receives Fortin Award for excellence

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Dr. Norman Finkelstein has written 12 books on literary criticism and poetry. Some of his scholarship is housed in McDonald Memorial Library.

English professor Dr. Norman Finkelstein was presented the Fortin Award for excellence as a teacher-scholar. This past Friday, committee consisting of four faculty and a student determined the sixth annual recipient of the award, which included a public ceremony and a $10,000 prize.

Faculty and a student spoke at the ceremony with glowing remarks for Finkelstein, who has taught as a professor at Xavier for 38 years.

As a scholar, Finkelstein has written a dozen books of literary criticism and poetry that have garnered high praise in the academic community. Finkelstein is considered an expert in modern American and Jewish poetry.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. David Mengel described his approach to incorporating the scholarship of the humanities into the lives of students through the classroom as “the best of who we are,” a true example of the Jesuit value of cura personalis.

English professor Dr. Kristen Renzi, who considers Finkelstein a mentor and friend as well as colleague, also commended Finkelstein’s work in the classroom as thoroughly engaging for students.

As part of the English department, Finkelstein teaches challenging courses concerning literature and poetry. Rather than teaching students mere head knowledge, Renzi explained that Finkelstein provides great assistance to students.

“(He has) helped countless students to confront their own doubts and pre-conceived notions of the world,” Renzi said, “and that, I think, is one of the most important things a professor can do.”

RateMyProfessor reviews confirm the rigor of Finkelstein’s courses. On the website, students can anonymously post evaluations of professors that their peers can reference when choosing courses.

Posts about Finkelstein note his willingness to meet with students and work on their writing outside of class and that his scholarship is noticeable in class, even when contributors did not have rave reviews.

Renzi highlighted Finkelstein’s ability to enrich other writers as a teacher-scholar.

During the ceremony, Mengel noted in his speech that Finkelstein has the unique capability to balance critique, suggestion and encouragement while helping a writer with their work.

“(Finkelstein) is able to both critique one’s work but also to help push work toward the direction that the author, not he, wants it to go in,” Renzi said. “This is rare and valuable stuff.”

The Fortin Award is possible thanks to donations from the Fortin family and will continue to encourage and celebrate deserving teacher-scholars in the Xavier humanities departments like Finkelstein for years to come.

By: Heather Gast ~Staff Writer~