Radford University Professor of English receives Virginia’s top award for excellence in teaching
Radford University Professor of English Jolanta Wawrzycka, Ph.D., is among a select group of recipients of the prestigious 2021 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award. Each recipient will receive a $7,500 gift from Dominion Energy at a virtual ceremony on March 2, 2021.
The annual award recognizes superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service and is the Commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities.
“I am greatly honored to win this award and to find myself in the prestigious company of other Radford University Outstanding Faculty Award recipients,” Wawrzycka said. “I am very happy for the Department of English, for the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) and, of course, for the University.”
The honor for Wawrzycka marks the third consecutive year in which a Radford University faculty member has received the SCHEV faculty award. Professor of Biology Jeremy Wojdak, Ph.D., won in 2020, and Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Agida Manizade, Ph.D., was honored in 2019.
“Since joining Radford University’s academic community of educators, researchers and scholars, Dr. Wawrzycka has exemplified the University’s mission of being an institution dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge that empowers students from diverse backgrounds and cultivates relationships between students and faculty, while embracing innovation and tradition,” said Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. “She not only has an impressive record of notable accomplishments in teaching, research and service, but also a proven record of integrating these critical areas into her dedicated work to both educate and inspire students.”
Wawrzycka, originally from Poland, has been teaching in the Radford University Department of English for 33 years. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literary theory and criticism, world literature, Anglo-Irish literature and Nobel Prize literature. Wawrzycka is known on campus and internationally as a scholar of literature and translation studies and is one of the world’s most prominent authorities on Irish novelist James Joyce.
Among her many scholarly accomplishments, Wawrzycka has published six books, five since 2017. Her latest publication, “Retranslating Joyce for the 21st Century,” arrived in April 2020 when she, serving as guest editor, brought together Joyce and translation scholars in French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Dutch, Romanian, Chinese and South Slavic languages like Bulgarian and Croatian.
Wawrzycka has published more than 40 invitational book chapters and academic essays, and a large number of her works analyze translations of Joyce’s writings. Her Joyce criticism has been translated into Polish, Romanian and Portuguese.
“Jolanta has made an important mark among scholars and teachers who devote themselves to research on James Joyce’s works,” said Fritz Senn, director of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation in Switzerland. “She has become one of the acknowledged and prominent Joyce scholars thanks to her important publications. What I can appreciate deeply is her significant work in translation studies, where she has become one of the world authorities.”
Wawrzycka has made more than 100 professional appearances in the United States and across the world. She has delivered the keynote address at the James Joyce Conference in Rome, presented a lecture at New York University for The James Joyce Society and given lectures at Joyce summer schools in Ireland and Italy, as well as international workshops at the Zurich Joyce Foundation in Switzerland. Wawrzycka regularly takes Radford University students with her to present their research at these conferences and workshops.
“Dr. Wawrzycka’s work is beyond outstanding, and she is an example and a model for teacher-scholars everywhere,” said Matthew Smith, Ph.D., dean of the Radford University College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. “Her publications, presentations and lectures inform her pedagogy at every level, undergraduate, graduate and professional.”
All aspects of Wawrzycka’s scholarship “inform her teaching at every level: undergraduate, graduate and professional alike,” said Department of English Chair Robert Williams, Ph.D., who pointed out that many students ask Wawrzycka to serve as an advisor and mentor on various academic endeavors. Her support and mentorship, Williams noted, has led to many students participating at conferences nationally and internationally with Wawrzycka, and several have won the University-wide Winesett Research Award.
Since joining Radford University’s academic community of educators, researchers and scholars, Dr. Wawrzycka has exemplified the University’s mission of being an institution dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge that empowers students from diverse backgrounds and cultivates relationships between students and faculty, while embracing innovation and tradition."
Wawrzycka has worked to empower students from diverse backgrounds and has mentored many students to apply for graduate studies in Ireland, Scotland and England. She has assisted others who went on to teach English in China, Japan, Russia and Uruguay.
“I work to empower students to take charge of their own intellectual growth,” Wawrzycka. “That they respond positively to my methodologies can be gleaned from their own success beyond the classroom.”
The professor often heaps praise on her students and eagerly shares their impact on her research and academic scholarship. In a recent publication, Wawrzycka acknowledged her students’ “keen readings that helped [her] see Joyce in a new light,” and in a book chapter, she wrote that she had learned as much about Joyce’s works from her students as she had in her “own readings and re-readings.”
Testimonials from her former students show the impact Wawrzycka has made on their lives. Voicing their support of the professor for the Outstanding Faculty Award, former students Katie Smith and Michelle Williams-Wagnon collectively wrote, “Whether she is in Radford, Virginia or Rome, Italy, Dr. Wawrzycka teaches with kindness, aplomb and a great appreciation for her students’ work. She taught us how to navigate the complexities of professional travel and conference presentation. She transformed our careers while also providing us with a lifelong friend — and we know we are not the only two students she has impacted.”
The Outstanding Faculty Award is the latest in a long list of accolades for Wawrzycka. To name a few, she was the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Creative Scholar Award, the 2017 College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Scholar Award and the 2009 Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. In November, she was selected as a 2020-2021 Dalton Eminent Scholar.
“Jolanta has modeled excellence in teaching for 33 years. As her former chairperson, I can report that Jolanta’s students love the learning experiences in her classes, because she brings great intelligence, energy and enthusiasm to teaching,” said Radford faculty member Rosemary Guruswamy, Ph.D., who retired in June 2020. “As an educator with a solid basis in the classical humanities and traditional teaching pedagogy, she is a model for other teachers at this University with her combination of intellect and enthusiasm and her sincere concern for all Radford students, from the brilliant graduate student to the struggling non-English major in the general education literature course.”
Wawrzycka is the 13th Radford University faculty member to receive the Outstanding Faculty Award. In addition to Wojdak (2020) and Manizade (2019), previous Radford University winners include Jennifer Jones Powell (teacher education), 2015; Cliff Boyd (anthropology), 2008; Donna Boyd (anthropology), 2006; Mark Camphouse (music), 2002; Robert Whisonant (geology), 2000; Chester "Skip" Watts (geology), 1998; Franklin Jones (physical science), 1996; Leonor Ulloa (foreign languages and literatures), 1993; and Grace Toney Edwards (English) and Steven Pontius (geography), 1990.