W&L’s Deborah Miranda Awarded VFIC Harris Award Miranda was recently awarded the H. Hiter Harris III Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for 2021.
The Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges (VFIC) selected Deborah Miranda, Thomas H. Broadus, Jr. Professor of English emeritus at Washington and Lee University, as the winner of the H. Hiter Harris III Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching 2021.
Miranda will be recognized at a luncheon ceremony held virtually on Nov. 4.
The Harris awards recognize faculty “whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences.”
“Teaching has been one of the great loves of my life,” Miranda said. “It’s the thing that brought me back to the classroom every day for over 20 years. From grad school to my final English course, Literary Approaches to Poverty, I reveled daily in the literature that inspired and moved me and helped make meaning out of chaos. But teaching is also an extremely demanding life, one that never lets up. So, to be recognized for the creativity, blood, sweat and tears that go into this profession feels lovely.”
Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area in California, with Santa Ynez Chumash ancestry. Her mixed-genre book “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir” received the 2015 PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and a Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Association, and it was short-listed for the William Saroyan Literary Award.
She is also the author of four poetry collections and the co-editor of “Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature.” Miranda’s work also has appeared in many anthologies. At W&L, she taught English courses for 17 years, including literature of the margins and creative writing. Today, she is an independent scholar working on projects involving California Mission history and works of literature. She is currently revisiting her research on Ventura Cantua/Soto, an Indigenous man from Mission Carmel who lived from 1816-1883.
In addition to the recognition, the award comes with a $2,500 prize.
“I was shocked to hear that I had won this award,” Miranda said. “The state of Virginia is packed with professors teaching their hearts out every day, putting in long weekends of planning, grading, commenting, hours of advising and tutoring. I figured the chances of me being pulled out of the applicant pile were pretty slim. The award is a terrific surprise.”
Founded in 1952, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges is a nonprofit fundraising partnership supporting the programs and students of 15 leading independent colleges in the Commonwealth: Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, University of Lynchburg, Mary Baldwin University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond, Virginia Wesleyan University and Washington and Lee University. For additional information on VFIC, visit www.vfic.org.
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