Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Will Jennings, associate professor of instruction, received the Rhetoric Department’s Doug Trank Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.

Will Jennings
Will Jennings

An instructional track faculty member of the Rhetoric Department since 2001, Jennings was instrumental in bringing technology to GER Rhetoric classrooms. He developed innovative instructional learning experiences with multi-modal tools, fostering collaborative and expanded classrooms for students and faculty alike.

Named a Creative Campus Institute Fellow in 2012, Jennings designed and continues to teach a Sustainability Advocacy course in the department’s minor toward the UI Certificate in Sustainability Studies and an intermediate elective for the Environmental Planning and Policy major.

A past leader in the department’s Professional Development Program for incoming TAs, Jennings has directed students in developing substantive independent studies, mentored undergraduate honors theses, and served on graduate MFA theses committees for the university's Nonfiction Writing Program, from which he graduated in 1997. Jennings has mentored TAs teaching within the department as well as underrepresented students in Sustainability Studies, and served as faculty advisor for student literary and civic publications.

Promoted to associate professor of instruction, Jennings also received the CLAS Collegiate Teaching Award. Student letters and course evaluations routinely note his positive and supportive role in their experience of the university, going above and beyond his work as their instructor for a single semester in linking them to opportunities both locally and beyond.

Jennings began his teaching career at UI in 1993 under the mentorship of Trank.

The Doug Trank Memorial Award  is awarded annually to the Rhetoric instructor who combines key characteristics of the late former department chair. Trank was well known for his dedication to teaching and for his human warmth, kindness, sense of humor and skill as a mentor. Although teaching excellence is rewarded in other ways in the Department of Rhetoric and at Iowa, the combination of teaching and care for students is the essential hallmark of both the nominees and the winners of this award.