Renzi recognized for scholarly success

Dr. Kristen L. Renzi wins this year’s Roger A. Fortin Award for Outstanding Teaching

By Ethan Nichols, World News Editor

This year’s recipient of the Roger A. Fortin Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship, Dr. Kristen L. Renzi, can now be counted among the many “titans of the humanities” at Xavier University. 

The Fortin Award was established in 2013 to recognize “a teacher-scholar who, in the judgment of students and peers, is excellent to outstanding in her or his teaching and, in the judgment of the faculty, shows evidence of scholarship that is recognized and given positive evaluations by the scholarly community.”

Renzi began at Xavier in 2013 after earning a B.A. at Denison University and earning her M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University. 

She currently serves as an associate professor in the English Department and as Chair of the Department of Race, Intersectionality, Gender and Sociology (RIGS). 

Dr. David Mengel, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, praised Renzi and her legacy. 

“We have every expectation that our current awardee and many other previous awardees will be writing their legacy here for years to come,” Mengel said.

Newswire photo by Ethan Nichols

Dr. Renzi, above, stands alongside a table post-ceremony featuring some of her student’s work along with her own publications.

The Fortin Award is rooted in legacy. Named after former professor of history Roger A. Fortin, it has been awarded to faculty who Mengel describes as “titans of the humanities.”

Former winners include Dr. Steven Frankel, Dr. E. Paul Colella and Dr. Rachel Chrastil. 

Renzi is known for taking a creative approach to her classroom.  

“Each semester I ask students to produce work within the classroom — expressive avenues outside the traditional academic. And each semester students exhibit some reticence to the more creative assignments,” she said.

 “And yet, also each semester they produce work that excites. Unconventional and unbounded books, books in the box, inventory that has been painted, and more,” Renzi added.

In Renzi’s 400-level Transatlantic Literature course, students are required to produce a zine, among other unorthodox assignments. 

On display at the ceremony was a table with a sample of creative works by Renzi’s students: a collection of zines, paintings, comics, writing samples and other art works.

Newswire photo by Ethan Nichols

Dr. Renzi shares remarks with fellow faculty and administrators while accepting the Fortin Award last Wednesday during a ceremony.

“Here, I think, is the heart of what the humanities can and should do in a university classroom,” Renzi said.

While students may know Renzi for one of her many English courses, that isn’t all she offers at Xavier.

In her time at the university, Renzi has offered over a dozen different courses, ranging from CORE classes to senior capstone. Frankel, Professor of philosophy and last year’s award winner, noted Renzi’s wide range of interests and broad body of work. 

“…(Renzi’s) teaching interests are extraordinarily eclectic. In fact, she offers a wider range of coursework than any other member of the English department,” Frankel said. 

It’s clear that for Renzi, she’s here for her students.

“It takes an exceptionally gifted teacher to succeed in reaching such a diverse student population and offering them transformative educational experiences. Renzi is just such a teacher, as her student evaluations, comparative data, peer observation letters and annual reviews all unanimously attest,” he added..