Valerie Garver, professor and chair of the Department of History, is the recipient of the 2021 University Honors Great Professor Award.
Garver, who has been active in honors programming during her 17 years at NIU, is a trained early medievalist, focusing on the study of northwest Europe in the Early Middle Ages. She is currently serving as an Honors Faculty Fellow, teaching a seminar on Game of Thrones and Medieval History.
This university-wide award, which was established in 2001, recognizes a faculty or staff member who has, over time, contributed significantly to honors education at NIU through teaching as well as advising, research, artistry or service. Recipients manifest leadership, dedication and service to the University Honors Program and NIU honors students.
Garver’s contributions span many aspects of honors programming. As Director of Undergraduate Studies in History, she supported the development of honors classes in the department, ran the departmental honors program, and instituted the possibility for undergraduates to take graduate courses in our department for honors credit if faculty granted permission. She has advised for honors capstone projects, supported the Honors House living-learning community, and worked closely with NIU-based honors student organizations or honors societies.
In terms of direct honors teaching, she has taught three Honors seminars, at least five in-course contracts, and around 20-25 mini-sections during her tenure. Her most prominent teaching contribution to Honors lies in the “Game of Thrones” course she developed and taught with Jeffery Chown. The course exemplifies the best outcomes of cross-disciplinary coordination. It speaks to current interests, but it does so in ways that are grounded in scholarship.
“Dr. Garver’s innovative pedagogical approaches and her clear dedication to mentoring students make her a model Honors Faculty Fellow and a most deserving winner of the Great Professor Award,” said Andrea Radasanu, director of the University Honors Program. “Her support for the University Honors Program goes beyond her superb teaching. As chair of the Department of History, Dr. Garver is also an incredibly generous collaborator on curriculum and curricular resources.”