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Keith Roberts Award Statement

Keith A. Roberts, Professor of Sociology at Hanover College, is the 2009 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award.Dr. Roberts’ profile of teaching-related activities is broad and deep. He has managed the very difficult feat of being both a cosmopolitan and a local when it comes to teaching matters by taking on leadership roles and making outstanding contributions on his own campus, in his region, and at the national level.As one of his nominators wrote, “the qualifications for this award could have been written with Keith in mind.”ASA is only the last in a long list of organizations who have honored Keith’s contributions to teaching. He is a past recipient of the North Central Sociological Association’s “Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award”as well as the “Hans Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching” presented by the ASA’s Section on Teaching and Learning.He has also received awards on his campus and from the state of Indiana.His work on behalf of teaching in our discipline has touched the lives of countless students and faculty through endeavors that are too numerous to list in a citation of this length; the selection committee, however, would like to single out a few as particularly notable.

Keith Roberts has long been a mainstay of ASA’s teaching and learning community.His presentations and publications on deep learning and writing across the Sociology curriculum have pushed us to move beyond the practical questions that drive many of us to seek advice in these forums, and to think more deeply about the intellectual and, yes, sociological basis of this field.A long-time member of the Departmental Resources Group, Keith has both led and trained colleagues in the conduct of external department reviews and developed workshops for ASA and other regional associations focusing on teaching issues.Keith reaches out to the “teaching community” in informal ways as well, for example as an active participant in the TeachSoc listserv discussions.

Despite his position at an undergraduate institution, Keith has been a very active mentor of the next generation of the professoriate.In addition to partnering with Indiana University’s Preparing Future Faculty program and sponsoring “Hanover Fellows” at his home institution, Keith has become a pillar of the pre-conference Teaching Workshops sponsored by the NCSA and ASA.In recent years, he has taken this commitment one step further, by setting up a financial award to help graduate students and new faculty attend these workshops, generously funded by royalties from his popular textbooks and supplemented by funds from his publishers.

Keith is also an exemplary advocate for teaching on his home campus.In addition to a stint as department chair, where he practiced what he preached by leading his colleagues in the creation of a curriculum that was in line with the ASA’s guide to Liberal Learning in the Sociology Major, Keith also served for 2 years as chair of Hanover’s Physical Education Department, where he used his pedagogical expertise to guide the department in transitioning from a traditional Physical Education major to one in Exercise Science.Through groups he convened and committees he initiated, he nurtured a supportive culture of teaching and assessment among his on-campus colleagues while also providing a means to introduce and discuss new pedagogies.

As if all this weren’t enough, Keith has also been at the forefront of the movement to bring high school teachers into the conversation about teaching and learning in sociology.With Tom Steiger, he founded the first national listserv for high school sociology teachers, thereby enabling them to enter into dialogue with each other and with their colleagues in the professoriate.He has served on several committees and task forces charged with developing, supporting, and promoting the teaching of sociology in high schools. In 1990 he began organizing workshops for high school teachers, which he has been offering annually ever since.As one of his colleagues noted, “few can claim such impact on how sociology is taught in high school.”

In presenting this award to Keith Roberts, we honor a sociologist who has spent his career advancing the cause of teaching and learning.He has done so in all possible venues, from the local to the national level.For all his contributions, and for all the lives he has touched through them, we are pleased to present him with the ASA’s 2010 Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award.