Mary K. Schmitt is the recipient of Trevecca’s 2020 Teaching Excellence Award, University officials announced on Feb. 20.
A member of the faculty since 2017, Schmitt serves as an associate professor of biblical studies in Trevecca’s Millard Reed School of Theology and Christian Ministry. Schmitt is the 37th recipient of the award. The honor was announced during the University’s annual Teaching Excellence Convocation.
“I feel truly blessed to get to do what I do,” Schmitt said. “Every day I come to work, and I study the Bible. Not only that, but I get to study the Bible with these students and these colleagues. What a privilege!”
Dr. Erica Hayden, the 2019 recipient of the award, served as the keynote speaker for the event. An associate professor of history, Hayden wove stories about her own family history throughout her address, challenging students, faculty and staff to stand firm, persevere and remain faithful.
“Rely on your foundation and cornerstones in life,” Hayden said. “They shape you and give you the strength of who you were meant to be.”
Hayden, who described herself as “a planner by nature,” stressed that while history had long been her passion, she faced challenges and roadblocks as she worked to make her goal of being a professor a reality.
“Don’t give up on the puzzles and challenges that come your way,” she said. “Every time you struggle with something and overcome it, you persevere, you are more resilient, and you gain grit.”
Hayden encouraged students to find rest and confidence in their faith, trusting God’s plan for their lives.
“God is our rock and refuge, our safe place,” she said, citing Psalm 31. “Christ is our cornerstone, the bedrock of our faith.”
Acknowledging her students’ willingness to grapple with difficult questions and issues, Hayden charged them to “make positive contributions” to their communities.
“You all are servants here on this earth, so go forth like those who came before us and do good for others, using your Trevecca education, relying on your faith and foundation for guidance and know that the faculty here are championing your efforts.”
Awarded annually, the Teaching Excellence Award honors faculty members for excellence in teaching. Students, faculty and staff nominate faculty members for the award. The Conference of Chairpersons, a group comprised of academic deans and chairs, is responsible for the final decision and announces the recipient each year during the convocation.