St. Catherine English professor awarded $10,000 faculty prize

| September 7, 2011 | 0 Comments

English Professor Geri Chavis. (Photo by Catherine Tsen)

Geri Chavis, an English professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, was presented with the 2011 Bonnie Jean Kelly and Joan Kelly Faculty Excellence Award at the school’s opening festivities Sept. 7.

“She artfully combines poetry therapy with her practice as a psychologist with a deep commitment to teaching,” said Colleen Hegranes, the university’s senior vice president. “She is a valued colleague and truly a gift to St. Catherine University.”

The annual award carries a $10,000 cash prize and recognizes accomplishments in teaching, scholarship and other achievements in the honoree’s field.

“There are experiences beyond words — this is one of them,” Chavis said in accepting the award. ” I want to remember this moment forever!”

Since she began teaching at St. Catherine University in 1977, Chavis has been building a body of work that uses literature for healing. A certified poetry therapist and practicing psychologist, Chavis uses poems, stories and creative expression to facilitate growth and healing.

Chavis’s book, “Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Creative Expression,” was released last spring as part of the “Writing for Therapy and Personal Development Series,” published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in the United Kingdom. In addition, Chavis has co-edited two other books on poetry therapy as well as the first edition of the required text for the St. Catherine liberal arts core curriculum course, “The Reflective Woman.”

Among the many courses she teaches is “Literature for Growth and Healing” — offered to both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in exploring the power of fiction, poetry and creative writing and how these creative practices can be used in therapy.

A poetry therapy mentor and supervisor, Chavis has facilitated workshops in Ireland, Scotland and England and also shares her expertise with the community in workshops during campus events such as “Careers in Aging Week.” In 2009, she was recognized for her innovations in education with the Alumnae Association’s Myser Award for Teaching Excellence.

Chavis holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in English literature and language from Syracuse University, as well a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She is an editorial board member of the Journal for Poetry Therapy, a former vice president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy and recently was named honorary president of the Irish Poetry Therapy Network.

 

 

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