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Dr. Summers recognized for innovative writing intensive teaching

April 13, 2016

Professor Gerry Summers earned the 2016 Win Horner Award for Innovative Writing Intensive Teaching. The award recognizes faculty who are starting a new WI course or taking a new direction with their WI teaching. This may include a new, innovative WI course, or a new strategy and approach within an existing WI course.

Gerald Summers

Dr. Gerald Summers

The Campus Writing Program has awarded Gerald Summers, associate professor and associate director of biological sciences, the 2016 Win Horner Award for Innovative Writing Intensive Teaching.

Dr. Win Horner was a nationally known and respected pioneer in “writing across the curriculum” and chaired the Composition Task Force that formed MU’s Campus Writing Program. The annual award is presented to a faculty member who demonstrates the same pioneering spirit in their teaching of writing intensive courses through developing a new and innovative WI course or implementing new approaches within their teaching.

In nominating Summers for the award, Professor Emerita Marty Townsend highlighted his sustained commitment to the writing intensive cause at MU and the principles that underlie the program.

“Gerry is a long-time leader and innovative practitioner of incorporating writing into his pedagogies in Biological Sciences. At the heart of this teaching are some of the most innovative writing assignments that Campus Writing Program has seen in its thirty-year history,” wrote Townsend, who directed the CWP from 1999-2006.

Summers teaches Invertebrate Zoology (BIO_SCI 3260), a writing intensive course and lab for biology majors. He has devised a variety of writing assignments designed to teach students both the principles of comparative biology and effective communication. Student writing tasks range from one-sentence summaries and letters home to scientific abstracts and a 750-word scientific paper. Each assignment, observed Townsend, moves students toward increasing difficulty, with slightly higher stakes.

“In using multiple genres of writing for different audiences, frequently, [Summers] reinforces how scientists think and process and present information ethically,” she wrote. “He happens to be using his own field, invertebrate zoology, to teach these scientific principles, but this array of assignments could be adapted to virtually any other scientific field.”

Townsend noted that one of the writing tasks Summers developed for his course is highlighted in the textbook A Guide to College Writing (Pearson, 2016) by Chris Anson, a leading scholar in Writing Across the Curriculum.

Summers served on the Campus Writing Board’s Natural and Applied Sciences subcommittee, as both a member and chair, and then as chair of the full Board. He spent a year in Conley House as the “go-to” expert in all things writing intensive and is regularly called on to offer faculty development workshops for the Campus Writing Program.

Summers will be recognized at the Campus Writing Program Recognition and Awards Ceremony on April 22, 2016, in Memorial Union’s Mark Twain Ballroom. He will be presented with a plaque and a $1000 cash prize.

This is the second time a faculty member in the Division of Biological Sciences has been selected for the award. The 2015 Win Horner Award was presented to Miriam Golomb, associate professor of biological sciences.


Written by: Melody Kroll

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