English, psychology professors earn George Fox University undergraduate research, teaching awards for 2014-15 academic year

May 7th, 2015

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Melanie Springer Mock and Sue O’Donnell are honored by the Newberg, Ore., institution

Melanie Springer Mock

Melanie Springer Mock

Sue O'Donnell

Sue O’Donnell

NEWBERG, Ore. – A psychology professor known for tough courses and a caring demeanor and an English professor who has written three books – and has a fourth coming out this summer – were named recipients of George Fox University’s 2014-15 undergraduate teaching and research/scholarship awards, respectively.

Melanie Springer Mock, an alumna of the university, was chosen for the Faculty Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, while Sue O’Donnell, an associate professor of psychology, was recipient of the Undergraduate Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching.

As a professor of English, Springer Mock both teaches students how to write and publishes prolifically herself. She has written or edited three books, including The Spirit of Adoption: Writers on Religion, Adoption, Faith, and More, published in 2014 by Cascade Press, and is author of the forthcoming book If Eve Only Knew: Freeing Yourself from Biblical Womanhood and Becoming all God Means for You to Be, set for a July 2015 release.

Her essays on a wide array of topics have appeared in publications that include Christianity Today, The Nation, Christian Feminism Today, Mennonite Weekly Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Oregonian and Runner’s World Online. She also regularly blogs and typically publishes at least five book reviews each year. She won an award from the Associated Church Press for one of her reviews in 2014-15.

Since 2010, she has challenged herself to write at least 250 words a day, every day. All told, she has authored four books, 40 essays and 40 book reviews since 2001.

“In doing so, she models for students and colleagues the kind of disciplined, hard work that produces results,” said Laura Hartley, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Not only that, but she is also a great encourager for colleagues and students alike. She is generous with her time in reading others’ work and providing helpful feedback, including suggesting venues for publication for those works.”

Springer Mock credits her students and fellow coworkers for inspiring her.

“As a teacher, and in particular a writing teacher, I love that I get to know students and their stories, and get to help them develop their own writing voices,” she said. “As a writer, I love that George Fox has allowed me to explore what interests me, rather than forcing me to specialize on one minute topic. I love my colleagues, who have always provided me with consistent support and encouragement.”

Springer Mock earned a PhD at Oklahoma State University in 1999 with a concentration in composition and rhetoric and modern American literature. She also holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1994) and a bachelor’s degree in writing/literature from George Fox (1990).

O’Donnell joined the psychology department in 2001, teaching a range of classes but specializing in human development courses, research methods and the history and systems of psychology. She is lauded for being an innovator looking for ways to bring the subject matter to students in new ways.

To her students, O’Donnell is a mentor, helping them make career decisions, guiding them through George Fox processes and systems, and advocating for students where needed. She regularly invites students into her home for events and study sessions. And, in the psychology department, she has led the way in adopting educational technology and given of her time to train others.

“Most importantly, Sue is known for the concern she shows for her students,” said Jim Foster, dean of the school’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. “One of the students who nominated Sue noted that ‘Every single semester she goes above and beyond what is required of her to make sure her students not only learn the material but are equipped to apply it in their everyday lives.’”

While O’Donnell’s classes are known for being challenging, she works to make sure students in her classes succeed. One student wrote, “I have learned so much in each of her classes, and have done so knowing that the care she has for her students serves as the foundation of her strong support for us.”

Upon receiving the award, O’Donnell said, “This award means so much because it is student nominated. I love helping them to see how psychology is relevant to their lives and futures, and helping them to work hard to understand a complex subject. It’s not easy but as a team it’s possible, and I love being part of that discovery.”

O’Donnell holds a PhD in developmental psychology from the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (2001).

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes among the top Christian universities in the country and is a Christian college classified by U.S. News & World Report as a first-tier regional university. More than 3,700 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, six seminary degrees, and 11 master’s and doctoral degrees.


Linda Samek
Provost, George Fox University

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