Dr. Eick, Flook Receive Commencement Awards

News Date: 
Thu. 07/30/2009

Each year, students at Friends University nominate full-time faculty members for the W.A. Young Award for Excellence in Teaching and adjunct faculty members for the Jan LaFever Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award.

Dr. Gretchen Eick was presented with the W.A. Young award, and Kay Flook received the Jan LaFever award at the 2009 commencement ceremony.

The W.A. Young award began in 1963 in honor of Dr. Walter A. Young, who served as a faculty member, academic dean and then president of Friends University from 1939 to 1946.

Dr. Gretchen Eick – professor of history in the College of Business, Arts, Sciences and Education – received a plaque, a check for $1,000 and will have her name inscribed on the permanent list of award winners displayed in the third-floor hall of the Davis Administration Building.

Dr. Eick has been on the Friends University faculty for 16 years. The path that brought her to Friends University is extraordinary, as interesting and multi-faceted as she is. From humble beginnings in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Eick has crafted a career founded on the tenants of advocacy, social justice and teaching. She was attracted early in her professional life to teaching, starting with an appointment in an inner-city school district in New Haven, Conn. After that, she figured lobbying members of Congress would be easy, so she took a position in Washington, D.C., as a policy advocate for the United Church of Christ, focusing on human and civil rights issues in Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East. During this time, she co-founded IMPACT, a national ecumenical organization that devotes itself to work on social and political justice issues. In 1993, she and her husband moved to Wichita, and she joined the faculty at Friends University. Her outreach work on social and political justice issues continued, and in 2001, she published an award-winning book titled “Dissent in Wichita,” a work which chronicles the civil rights movement in the Midwest from 1954 to 1972.

Students who nominated Dr. Eick said she is a constant well of knowledge, allowing them to learn conventional material in an unconventional way. They said her passion for teaching and history is both contagious and inspirational. When she describes her experiences, it is not to brag about her accomplishments, but to share the feeling that comes from helping others. And finally, students said she is a pillar of strength – morally and ideally – and a wonderful teacher who genuinely cares for her students.

The Jan LaFever Award for Adjunct Teaching honors an adjunct faculty member who has shown extraordinary service to Friends University’s mission and students. The LaFever Award has been awarded annually since 1999 in honor of Jan LaFever, a long-time adjunct faculty member in the English Department. Students, faculty and staff are invited to nominate adjunct professors who have taught at Friends University at least one year.

Kay Flook – adjunct faculty in the Department of English in the College of Business, Arts, Sciences and Education – received a plaque, a check for $500 and her name will be inscribed on the permanent list of recipients in the third-floor hall of the Davis Administration Building.

Flook has been a member of the adjunct faculty for more than 10 years. During this time, she has helped countless students improve their writing ability, taking a grandmotherly albeit “tough-love” approach that encourages but also scolds students into working hard and achieving their potential. Her teaching path has included work at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels. Her passion for English and writing is evidenced in her work with other teachers and students at all levels of learning. “Above and beyond” is how one nominator described Flook. They continued to say, “She constantly researches and questions her own teaching to ensure that she is on the cutting edge of education. I can’t picture Kay ever saying ‘I’ve learned enough,’ or ‘I’ve reached all that I can do.’ She is an asset to the University and the many students she has impacted. ...”

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