Prof. Bernadette McNary-Zak Receives Jameson M. Jones Award

Dr. Bernadette McNary-Zak and Rhodes College President William E. Troutt

Dr. Bernadette McNary-Zak, associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes, was presented the 2015 Jameson M. Jones Award for Outstanding Faculty Service at the college’s Opening Convocation Aug. 21. The program marked the start of the college’s 167th session.

The Jameson M. Jones Award for Outstanding Faculty Service honors a current faculty member who has rendered exemplary service and provided leadership to the Rhodes community. It is presented in memory of Dr. Jameson M. Jones ’36, who served as professor of moral philosophy and dean of the college from 1955 to 1971.

McNary-Zak joined the Department of Religious Studies at Rhodes in 1999 and quickly established a reputation as an outstanding teacher-scholar as well as a devoted member of the college. She has served in various roles including chair of the Faculty Professional Interest Committee, interim director of Rhodes’ Search Program, and faculty secretary, a position that required her to be in frequent communication with all standing committees of the faculty.

“She has freely shared her pedagogical experience and advice with junior colleagues across the campus, including serving as an official Teaching Mentor since that program′s inception at Rhodes in 2009,” said Dr. Milton Moreland, interim dean of the faculty, who presented the award.

Fellow faculty members are not the only beneficiaries of McNary-Zak’s service commitments. She has had a positive impact on Rhodes students, serving as faculty advisor of the Ruka House, Rhodes’ Intentional Community, and the local chapter of the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society in Religion and Theology.

McNary-Zak also has written and received four grants that are aimed at facilitating student learning through curricular enhancement and faculty development. Her publications often focus on aspects of her service and pedagogy and provoke conversations about how to be more effective in the classroom. Since 2007, she has been a member of the national Council for Undergraduate Research, where she has served as a leader and represented the college in the larger undergraduate research community.

In addition, McNary-Zak has devoted countless hours as a faculty leader of the President’s Commission on Campus Culture, which was established on campus this past academic year. Her work on the commission resulted in recommendations that will help make Rhodes a more inclusive campus and more appreciative and welcoming of the diverse perspectives within the community.

A colleague noted that McNary-Zak “is an action-oriented person for whom doing, not simply being, is important.” As recipient of the Jameson M. Jones Award, she joins a distinguished group of faculty who have demonstrated intellectual leadership and outstanding commitment to service.