Creative writing professor Marti Mihalyi received the 2019 Jennie Howell Kopke and Verda R. Kopke Award for Distinguished Teaching. The award was announced during the May 19 Commencement ceremony and recognizes members of the faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching and in transforming students into scholars worthy of the highest honors. Recipients of the Kopke Award also receive a $5,000 cash award.
“What I accomplish is usually recognized in a quiet and behind-the-scenes manner by my own students,” Mihalyi said. “I am always heartened when they tell me they will leave Baker with a new love of language or a new realization of what writing can be in their lives. The Kopke award honors my work in an unexpected and much more public way. To me, the award validates the place of creative writing at this historic and liberal arts university. I will always consider it among the deepest honors of my life.”
Mihalyi began teaching at Baker in 2001. She is known for her energy, creativity, high expectations, devotion to helping students, and passion for teaching. Students in her popular writing classes often report having been urged by friends or faculty members to “make sure you take a Mihalyi course before you graduate.”
Mihalyi has been recognized with a Devine Fellowship in Poetry, a Wisconsin Individual Artist’s Fellowship, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Lake Superior Writers Award, and many other contest and publication prizes. She has authored two poetry collections; taught for National Writing Project sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, and Washington; served as writer-in-residence at the international Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan; and received multiple awards for outstanding university teaching. In 2014, she received the Faculty of Distinction Award from the Kansas Independent Colleges Association.
“Marti Mihalyi’s mentorship of students helps them develop as writers and is reflected in the meaningful work published in the Baker University Watershedliterary and arts magazine, said Baker University President Lynne Murray. “Additionally, many of her students have been recognized at the Sigma Delta Tau English Honorary Society Conference.”
The Kopke award was established in 1998 by Charles Kopke, a longtime supporter of Baker. It is named in honor of his mother, Jennie Howell Kopke, a 1921 Baker graduate, and his wife, Verda.