Rebecca Fremo, 2013 Carlson Award Winner, English Department

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by

2013 Carlson Award Winner, Rebecca Fremo, English Department

Rebecca Fremo

Each year at commencement a faculty member is honored with the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching in recognition of his or her exceptional skill and effectiveness as an instructor. The 2013 recipient is Rebecca Taylor Fremo, associate professor and chair of the English Department at Gustavus.

Fremo received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Virginia Tech University and completed her doctorate at the Ohio State University. Along the way, she taught high school English, directed high school musicals, answered telephones for UPS, and ran the cash register at a small used bookstore. She began teaching at Gustavus in 2000 after earning her PhD in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition. She directed the College’s Writing Center for 11 years and also served as the director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program for 5 years. She teaches a wide range of courses, including Writing Creative Nonfiction, Academic Writing, and Adolescent Literature and Literacy. In addition to editing textbooks and publishing numerous articles, chapters, and reviews, she is also the author of Chasing Northern Lights, a collection of poems published in 2012.

Students describe Fremo as deeply committed to the progress and development of students, believing unceasingly in the capacity of all students to progress, to learn, and to contribute meaningfully in and out of the classroom. As one student noted, she “not only understands the struggles [that] multicultural students go through, [but] tries at every [opportunity] to bring other professors greater awareness of it as well.” “Professor Fremo takes the time to work with students and care for them,” wrote another, “not only for the grade they need in the class, but the potential development opportunities that could shape their futures.” Fremo leads innumerable faculty development workshops and training sessions and is always willing to share expertise, to collaborate for the benefit of students, and to advocate vigorously and effectively for those in need. Colleagues across the campus describe her as “astonishingly knowledgeable” and “unfailingly generous” when consulted, as so often occurs, for assistance or advice on teaching matters.

Both students and colleagues observed that Fremo’s openness and frankness about vulnerability and fear—feelings known to all but too rarely acknowledged—helped them develop as teachers, students, writers, and persons. One student revealed that such a conversation with Fremo was “one of the most surprising, touching, and truly inspiring moments of my college career. Being shown this vulnerability by someone you so look up to made me realize both how much [she] cares about me and that even though my insecurities may never completely go away, I have the power to overcome them.” A colleague noted, “Rebecca isn’t fearless and doesn’t pretend to be. She keeps us honest by speaking about fear, by acknowledging its presence, and by overcoming it in the name of integrity and mission.” Or to put the matter more poetically, and in something close to her own words, Rebecca Fremo “chases northern lights,” “fear matched only by [the] desire to see them.”

Presented by Alisa Rosenthal
Associate Professor of Political Science
2012 Recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award

 

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