Dr. William E. Jurma

UNK- The Martin Distinguished Professorship at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has been awarded to Dr. Kate Benzel, a professor of English. 

The award was established by former Congressman David Martin and his wife Tancie to recognize excellence in teaching and research, according to Dr. William Jurma, dean of the UNK College of Fine Arts and Humanities. Dr. Benzel will hold the position for three years and will receive an annual stipend. Former award recipients include Dr. Susanne George Bloomfield, Dr.Don Welch, Dr. Richard Jussel and Dr. Charles Peek. 

Dr. Benzel holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.A. from the University of Toledo (Ohio) and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Toledo. She earned both college and English honors at the undergraduate level.  
Her areas of specialization are literary criticism, 20th Century American and British fiction, narrative theory, interdisciplinary studies and women’s studies. Among her other awards are the College of Fine Arts & Humanities Faculty Mentor Award and the Leland Holdt Award for Distinguished Faculty.  Her recent scholarship focuses on interdisciplinary research on Carl Sandburg and has resulted in the performance of “The Sandburg Project: Prayers for the People.” 

In each of the three years that Dr. Benzel holds the professorship, she plans to sponsor a guest lecture presentation on the UNK campus. The first  guest lecturer she will sponsor is Dr. Steve Behrendt, the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Dr. Behrendt also serves as a reader and contributing editor for the “Prairie Schooner.” 

“It’s really an honor to receive this award,” Dr. Benzel said. “Students, alumni and faculty are all involved in making the selection.” 

The recipient of the Martin Distinguished Professorship award, who must hold the rank of professor in the Department of English, is selected by a committee comprised of the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities; three members of the English department, with the rank of assistant or associate professor, appointed by the senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Life; one alumnus; and one graduate student, who is appointed by the dean and the three faculty members from the English department.