Alumni Awards 2016: Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

The 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony is just hours away, and for our last profile, we’d like to introduce you to this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. Dr. Kimberly Moffitt is an associate professor in the Department of American Studies and the Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. Program here at UMBC, but as we’ll see below, those are just two of the many ways she’s contributed to both our campus and the city of Baltimore.

k-moffit_headshotAs a professor of American studies, Dr. Kimberly Moffitt’s academic interests encompass several aspects of the American experience, from representations of marginalized populations to Black hair and body politics, typically viewed through the lens of the media and popular culture. She also heads the University Faculty Senate, and has recently joined the faculty of Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. program, which she says both helps her to stay engaged in the research process and to cultivate the next generation of academics. Her current projects include an exploration of the ways diverse children are portrayed in Disney media, as well as an edited volume on the TV series Scandal. Dr. Moffitt is also an active and vocal presence in local Baltimore media, frequently appearing on WYPR and WEAA-FM’s The Marc Steiner Show, and contributing op-eds to the Baltimore Sun. In addition, she is the founding parent and board member of the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys Public Charter School.

When asked what she admires about her students, Dr. Moffitt can sum it up in one word: “GRIT!” She appreciates the chance to work with strongly gifted students who work to balance academics with their other responsibilities, but who also “recognize the need for support along the way.” She fondly remembers the last day of her first Seminar on Black Hair and Body Politics in the fall of 2010, when students decided to stick around her office after dropping off their final papers. They discussed current events, class topics, plans for the holidays. “I felt like the mother hen for the first time in my academic career,” she says, “surrounded by 20+ students…not yet wanting to leave the ‘nest’ of the classroom and our shared experience, and me not ready to let them fly free, relinquishing that special moment.”

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony TONIGHT at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall.

Outstanding Faculty: Dr. Anne Spence

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to this year’s Alumni Award winners. The UMBC Alumni Association proudly honors distinguished alumni and faculty for their accomplishments and dedication to UMBC. Today we’re talking with Dr. Anne Spence, Department of Mechanical Engineering, about her career working as a professor at UMBC.

Name: Dr. Anne SpenceAnne Portrait 2
Job Title: Professor of the Practice, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Award Category: Outstanding Faculty

Q: Why did you choose to teach at UMBC?

I chose to teach at UMBC because of its diverse student body, the strength of the undergraduate engineering programs, and the freedom to pursue my interests in engineering education.

Q: Please tell us a little about the trajectory of your career and what you are working on now.

I have had the privilege of engaging in many activities related to engineering education. Our current work to prepare teachers to teach engineering in elementary, middle, and high school will open the doors of engineering to a new generation of students. We are also developing new mentoring programs that will ensure that all students entering mechanical engineering will benefit from the types of activities formerly reserved for members of our scholar programs.

Q: What do you most enjoy about working with UMBC students?

I love the fact that UMBC students come from a variety of backgrounds. They bring a diversity of experiences that make the student body stronger. It is also great to see students who have participated in Project Lead the Way and FIRST LEGO League coming to UMBC to pursue their dreams.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at UMBC?

My favorite memories are of the freshman engineering design competitions. I love watching students flex their engineering muscles through the design of robots, submarines, catapults, solar rice cookers, and hot air balloons while competing and cooperating with their colleagues.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering and education?

When I was an undergraduate, I was the only female student in my class and never had a female instructor except in the arts, humanities and social sciences. A few women started with me as freshmen but did not continue in the major. I thought that if they had seen someone at the front of the room that looked more like them, they might have persisted. I felt like maybe I could be that role model for both female and male students alike. I am so happy that I made that choice!

Check out the other Alumni Award winners.