Western Connecticut State University Professor of English Dr. Donald Gagnon has been named the recipient of the first WCSU Provost’s Award for Teaching in recognition of his exemplary contributions to the university and its students as an educator, scholar, and mentor.
In announcing the award, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Missy Alexander observed that “evidence of Don’s vibrancy as a teacher, scholar and member of the WCSU community can be seen almost everywhere. He seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm for creating and contributing to a community of learners.”
Gagnon, who earned his Ph.D. in English/Literature at the University of South Florida, taught at his alma mater before joining the English Department faculty at WCSU. He has published fiction and criticism covering diverse topics, and has presented his works in a wide variety of venues. His research specializations include modern drama and early American, African American, and LGBTQ literature.
Gagnon currently is co-chair of the English Department, and has served in many faculty capacities including graduate director for the M.A. in English, co-director of the American Studies degree, and faculty liaison for the English Education degree. He has been a faculty adviser to student groups for English majors and to the Gay/Straight Alliance on campus, and has collaborated with other faculty members in organizing theatre, museum, lecture and other extracurricular trips that enrich students’ educational experience beyond the classroom.
“Whether he is teaching Introduction to Drama, African American Literature, or History of Musical Theatre, his students report being excited to enter into conversations that explore meaning, culture, and the role that literature plays in sharpening one’s sense of self,” Alexander remarked. “He has long served as a mentor to student scholars, regularly helping them to prepare for conferences, and he invites outstanding speakers and groups to campus in support of the diverse perspectives that make up our community.”
Gagnon will be honored as a speaker at the WCSU President’s Opening Meeting for university faculty and staff on Aug. 28.