Faculty award winners, from left, Peter Peregrine, Brigetta Miller, Nancy Lin, and Jesus Smith pose for a photo in their regalia.
From left: Peter Peregrine, Brigetta Miller '89, Nancy Lin, and Jesús Gregorio Smith

Four faculty members—Brigetta Miller ’89, Peter Peregrine, Nancy Lin, and Jesús Gregorio Smith—were honored during Sunday’s Commencement ceremony with annual teaching awards, among the highest honors given at Lawrence.

  • Miller, an associate professor of music who has been on the Lawrence faculty since 1996, received the 2022 Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Peregrine, professor of anthropology and a member of the faculty since 1995, is the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Scholarship.
  • Lin, assistant professor of art history, joined Lawrence in 2016 and is one of two recipients of the Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member.
  • Smith, assistant professor of ethnic studies, joined Lawrence in 2017 and is also a recipient of the Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member.

Brigetta Miller: Award for Excellence in Teaching

Brigetta Miller poses for a photo on Main Hall Green.
Brigetta Miller '89

Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Gunther Kodat praised Miller for her contributions in teaching both music education and ethnic studies.

“You embody the promise of Lawrence University as a place that uniquely values the arts, liberal arts, diversity, and inclusion,” Kodat said in reading the award citation. “And you have come to embody, as well, the university’s core commitment to excellence in teaching, serving as an empathetic and patient guide to students eager to challenge themselves and make the world a better place.”

See coverage of the June 12 Commencement ceremony

Miller, a Lawrence alumna and member of the Stockbridge-Munsee (Mohican) Nation and a descendant of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, has been active as a faculty advisor to LUNA (Lawrence University Native Americans) since it was founded in 2008 and has served as a Posse mentor.

“Student course evaluations offer vivid testimony to your kindness, enthusiasm, and dedication to nurturing success and achievement within community,” Kodat said.

She shared this quote from a student in Miller’s Contemporary Native American Women class: “Every course should be like this at Lawrence: focused on building relationships and trust with each other as peers, and focus[ed] on intentional discussions and work.”

Peter Peregrine: Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Peter Peregrine stands in front of Main Hall.
Peter Peregrine

Kodat applauded Peregrine for nearly three decades worth of scholarship in publishing articles, editing essay collections, writing and editing textbooks, and garnering significant grants to help fund a wide range of important research.

“As an archeologist with an interest in cross-cultural research, anthropological theory, and museum studies, you have made major research contributions to your field that I am pleased to recognize today,” Kodat said.

Peregrine’s work has provided significant “contributions to the understanding of cultural evolution and adaptation, helping us see how the lessons of the past might inform action in the future” she said.

This is the second time Peregrine has received the Excellence in Scholarship Award. The first came in 2012, shortly after he was elected as a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

“Your many accomplishments since then include your membership in the external faculty of the Sante Fe Institute, where you were brought in as a collaborator on a John Templeton Foundation-funded project to explore processes of cultural evolution,” Kodat said. “The data you collected on the evolution of cities led to an invitation to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded project to explore social resilience to climate change among non-industrial societies. A critical insight from that work is the importance of political participation as an aspect of social resilience.”

Nancy Lin: Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member

Head shot of Nancy Lin
Nancy Lin

Lin joined the Lawrence faculty in 2016 shortly after receiving her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Chicago. She brought expertise in early 20th century Japanese and Korean Art.

“You introduced new topics of study to the college, providing many students—and not a few of your faculty colleagues—with their first sustained engagement with the glorious history and traditions of East Asian art,” Kodat said.

Lin has helped to transform some of the core art history courses and the Senior Seminar. But beyond that, Kodat said, Lin made an immediate impact with her ability to engage with her students and colleagues in meaningful ways.

“Again and again, students and colleagues praise your kindness, thoughtful patience, and uncanny ability to balance empathy with rigor to help students achieve their best work,” Kodat said.

One student praised Lin’s ability to push students to think critically and creatively: “Through the courses I have taken with Professor Lin, I have grown in confidence as not only an art historian, but a liberal arts student.”

Jesús Gregorio Smith: Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member

Photo of Professor Jesús Gregorio Smith during winter
Jesús Gregorio Smith

Smith joined the Lawrence faculty in 2017 after earning his Ph.D. in sociology from Texas A&M University. He helped launch ethnic studies as a major and has been a big part of the program’s growth over the past five years.

“The ethnic studies program at Lawrence when you arrived as its sole tenure-track faculty member was a small but mighty band of dedicated faculty,” Kodat said. “They were determined to build a program that at the time offered only a minor into a set of course offerings and a curricular presence that would be major, in every sense of the word. That dream is coming to pass, thanks in great part to your sterling contributions.”

Kodat said colleagues have praised Smith for the ways he has “created spaces for sustained critical inquiry and scholarly investigation,” including organizing campus-wide events that initiate “difficult but necessary conversations that help create conditions of honesty, connection, and community.”

Smith’s commitment to students shows through in how students respond to his teaching and mentorship, Kodat said.

One student surveyed said of Smith: “He never accepted a simple answer to a question and pushed all of us to think harder and more complexly about topics for our papers, but he was also always present to encourage and support us.”