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May 22, 2020 | Alumni, News

Psychology professor honored for distinguished teaching


Each year Baker University honors exemplary faculty with the Jennie Howell Kopke and Verda R. Kopke Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. Robyn Long has been named the 2020 recipient.

The award annually recognizes a Baker faculty member who has a record of excellence in teaching and in transforming students into scholars, who brings honor to the university, and who exhibits good moral character. Recipients of the Kopke Award also receive a $5,000 cash award.

Long, who graduated from Baker in 2000 with a double major in psychology and sociology, had always hoped to return to Baker. She joined the faculty in 2011 after serving as the director of the master’s in clinical psychology program at Emporia State University.

“I returned to Baker because I wanted to teach as effectively as the people who taught me, and I wanted to develop the meaningful relationships with my students that I had developed with my professors when I was a student. To have those achievements recognized means a tremendous amount to me,” said Long, associate professor of psychology and director of study abroad. “I am particularly touched because I get to be a member of a group of faculty who have inspired me. My advisor, Tony Brown [professor of psychology], won the Kopke award the year I graduated, so it’s fun to celebrate that with him as a colleague 20 years later.”

Baker University is frequently described as a close-knit community, and that is one of the things Long most values about working and teaching here.

“It’s always the people that make or break a job, and I have dedicated, creative, collegial colleagues. And my students are resilient and fun and curious and talented,” Long said.

She also appreciates having the opportunity and the encouragement to explore new areas and approaches to learning.

“As much as I love my discipline, and that will never waver, I am thankful that Baker has allowed me to add novelty to my work,” Long said.

In addition to psychology courses, Long recently taught the Scottish Enlightenment in the new primary texts program and has taught a variety of courses in the Quest program. She oversees study abroad and frequently travels with students during interterm.

“After having taught now for 16 years, this keeps things fresh because I’m getting to learn along with my student all the time,” she said.

The spring 2020 semester didn’t finish the way anyone expected it to, and Long is proud to be part of a strong department and proud of the accomplishments of her students.Both faculty and students were required to quickly shift to remote learning when campus closed in March in response to the coronavirus.

“I am grateful that we were able to find meaningful ways to teach content and stay connected with students. The Psychology Department held a Zoom ceremony for the 12 psychology seniors and produced a department newsletter,” Long said. “And nine of our 12 seniors got into their first-pick graduate school program.”

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.


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