Dr. Amie McKibban is the 2012-13 H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award winner. Focusing exclusively on teaching, the Cooper award honors a USI faculty member whose work in University Core courses has been especially creative and successful in furthering UCC goals.
McKibban, assistant professor of psychology, joined the College of Liberal Arts in fall 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a Master of Science degree in experimental psychology from Emporia State University, and a Ph.D. in community psychology from Wichita State University.
She discovered a love of teaching as an undergraduate, while tutoring a student in an introductory psychology course. “That experience led me to pursue a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in psychology and special education,” she says. “I quickly learned I loved teaching. The profession lent itself well to my desire to make meaningful connections and influence students who were perceived as the underdog.”
As part of her bachelor’s degree, she was required to take a research methods course in which she conducted a primary research study on life structure and happiness. The study was a success and subsequently published, and McKibban learned that she loved research.
“That was a pivotal moment, ending with the decision to continue my education and obtain a master’s degree. While completing this degree, I continued to teach psychology courses and present research on happiness, as well as attitudes toward individuals in the gay and lesbian community, at local, regional, and national conferences. I found my calling.”
After completing her master’s degree, she accepted a position as a program coordinator for a teen pregnancy prevention program in Lyon County, Kansas. “I greatly enjoyed the more applied community-wide approach to behavior change, but I missed teaching and the university environment.”
The following year, she accepted a one-year position in the Psychology Department and subsequently decided to complete her Ph.D. The community psychology doctoral program at Wichita State offered a way to fulfill her desire to teach as well as use her research skills to influence measurable change in community settings.
After completing the Ph.D., she returned to USI to teach courses in introductory psychology, social psychology, human sexuality, and community psychology. “Here at USI I have been able to explore my passions and create change,” she said. “My research has focused on sexual health, community redevelopment in underserved areas, and program development with regard to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. In staying in line with the practitioner side of my training, I have been working to begin a Safe Zone program with the vision of fostering social justice for and with the local LGBT community, through support, education, and visibility.”
“In doing so, I continually serve within the community as a change agent while fulfilling my passion as an educator.”
In one of several nominations of McKibban for the award, a colleague wrote, “Amie embraces the principles of the UCC in everything she does. As an example, her work in developing materials, finding funding, and initiating training for safe Zone exemplifies her combination of professional knowledge with the goal of broadening the experiences and worldview of our students. In this way Amie carries the ideals and the goals of the Core Curriculum far beyond her own classroom.”
The Cooper award is named in honor of H. Lee Cooper, a long-time friend and supporter of USI. The award was officially presented at the Fall Faculty and Administrative Staff Meeting on August 14. It includes a generous stipend, a plaque, and additional monies for travel and related faculty development.
As this year's winner, McKibban will deliver a presentation to the University community during the 2012-13 academic year. Details will be released at a later date.