Erinn Barcomb-Peterson
KU News Service

2022 senior class awards two faculty with HOPE Awards for teaching excellence

Fri, 10/29/2021

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas senior class has honored Sarah Jen, assistant professor of social welfare, and Jonathan Hagel, assistant teaching professor of history, with 2021 HOPE Awards — to Honor an Outstanding Progressive Educator. 

The HOPE Award is given annually through the Board of Class Officers and is the only honor given to faculty members by the senior class. Thanks to successful fundraising efforts, 2021 marks the first year the Board of Class Officers is able to give out two HOPE Awards. 

Jen and Hagel were recognized Oct. 23 between the first and second quarters of the KU-Oklahoma football game.

Jen joined KU in 2018. In the School of Social Welfare, Jen teaches courses on social theory, research and practice with older adults. Her research focuses on the intersections of aging, sexuality and sexual identity, particularly among LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Students who nominated Jen noted her generosity in giving feedback on both classroom assignments and graduate school applications while making students comfortable to share and participate in class. 

One nominator wrote, "She somehow made an online Zoom class one of the most meaningful experiences of my educational career." 

Of the award, Jen said, “It’s an honor to receive an award that is student-nominated and student-selected. Our students are best positioned to evaluate how our classrooms actually feel and the impact these spaces have on their education. I feel very lucky to do what I do.”  

Hagel joined KU in 2012. In the Department of History, he teaches courses on topics like the Great Depression, American sports and culture, and U.S. history as seen through motion pictures. His research interests focus on America’s long-running struggle over racism. 

Students who nominated Hagel noted a teaching style that is inclusive, captivating and engaging while helping undergraduate students find opportunities to get involved with research in the department. 

One student nominator wrote, "In my class of 30-40 students, he knows the names of all his students and makes a point to include everyone in the discussions. His teaching material is unique and interesting and encourages students to be engaged and genuinely learn." 

Hagel said, “To be recognized as an engaging and inclusive teacher by this senior class — a class whose college experience has been so completely upended by COVID — is especially gratifying and humbling. I hope they have learned from me as much as I have learned from them.”

Photo: Jonathan Hagel and Sarah Jen with their 2021 HOPE Awards at the Oct. 23 football game between KU and Oklahoma

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