By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney English professor Sam Umland was presented the 2016 Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award during winter commencement Friday.
Umland joined the UNK faculty in 1988 and has served as associate dean, interim dean, interim director of the Museum of Nebraska Art and English Department chair, a position he holds today.
UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen described Umland as “a popular and passionate teacher, a scholar and creative artist and someone whose record of service rises to a level of leadership.”
UNK’s most prestigious faculty award, the Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life award recognizes an outstanding teacher/scholar for achievements that bring substantial credit to the university. The activity areas considered include teaching, research and service, with preference given to candidates who demonstrate high accomplishments in all three areas.
The award honors alumnus Leland Holdt and commemorates his many years of leadership at Security Mutual Life. Umland received a $5,000 stipend.
“Sam Umland is always prepared and enthusiastic, always ready for a new challenge and described by a colleague as a model of ‘the paradigm of the scholarly teacher in the classroom,’” Kristensen said.
Umland’s research is defined by film studies, but he also specializes in media studies, popular culture and literary theory. One of Umland’s recent research projects – “The Tim Burton Encyclopedia” – was released in the summer of 2014 and highlighted one of Hollywood’s most successful and distinctive filmmakers.
He’s published four books and has signed contracts for three additional books in the future. He has written numerous articles, book chapters and book reviews; delivered several guest lectures; sold concepts for theatrical plays; published poems; optioned screen-plays to Hollywood studios; and directed play productions for the UNK Theatre Department.
Umland was the recipient of the Pratt-Heins Distinguished Research Award in 2004 and the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 1998 and 2002.
He has taught Writing for the Stage and Screen, Literary Theory; Sociology of Literature; Electronic Literacy; History of the Motion Picture; Film as Literature; Studies in a Literary Genre: Play and Film; Religion and Film; Popular Literature; The Hollywood Novel/The Hollywood Movie; Fiction of Philip K. Dick; Introduction to Literature: Non-Western Civilization; Introduction to Literature: American; Reading and Writing About Literature; and Writing About Popular Music.
“It is said that a class with his name attached to it always fills – that after taking one of his courses, students are eager to take another,” Kristensen said.
He has served on Faculty Senate and his College Advisory Committee, and has been involved in UNK initiatives such as using iPads in the classroom and the Open Access Textbook project to integrate technology into classrooms. Umland also helped develop his department’s online master’s program.
Umland received his bachelor of arts, master of arts and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
PAST WINNERS – HOLDT/SECURITY MUTUAL LIFE AWARD
1998 – Charles Bicak, Biology; James Gilbert, Criminal Justice
1999 – Peter Longo, Political Science
2000 – Donald Envick, Industrial Technology
2001 – Ed Scantling, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies
2002 – Susanne Bloomfield, English
2003 – Kathryn Benzel, English
2004 – Harold Nagel, Biology
2005 – Charles Peek, English
2006 – Richard Miller, Psychology; Max McFarland, Counseling and School Psychology
2007 – Don Kaufman, Chemistry
2008 – Ronald Crocker, Music and Performing Arts
2009 – Phyllis Markussen, Family Studies and Interior Design
2010 – Christopher Exstrom, Chemistry
2011 – Dennis Potthoff, Teacher Education
2012 – Linda Crowe, Communication Disorders
2013 – Valerie Cisler, Music and Performing Arts
2014 – Julie Shaffer, Biology
2015 – Kim Carlson, Biology
Umland was featured in the 2014 edition of New Frontiers magazine. Read the story here:
Film Scholar: Sam Umland’s Intrigue for Pop Culture, Media Drives Research