BHSU English professor earns Distinguished Faculty Award

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, March 18, 2015/Categories: 2015









           Black Hills State University President Tom Jackson, Jr., right, congratulates Dr. Nick Wallerstein, professor of English at BHSU, for being named the 2015 Distinguished Faculty. Jackson surprised Wallerstein with the honor during his Bible literature class on Wednesday March 18.




Among the group of students in Dr. Nick Wallerstein&rsquos Bible literature class Wednesday morning was an unexpected guest.

Black Hills State University President Tom Jackson, Jr., surprised Wallerstein, a professor of English at BHSU, with the Distinguished Faculty Award in front of his students on March 18. The prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award is given each spring to reward exceptional teachers and professional dedication.

"Dr. Wallerstein is an inspiring and dedicated teacher who cares about his students," Jackson said. "This is one of the highest honors we can give our faculty."

In presenting the award, Jackson noted Wallerstein&rsquos outstanding accomplishments including publication in more than a dozen professional literary journals, including Language Quarterly, Language and Literature, MAWA Review and Pacific Coast Philology.

"It was certainly a profound honor and distinction," Wallerstein said. "I never imagined this is something I would achieve."

Wallerstein began his career at BHSU 18 years ago. He teaches early British literature and Shakespeare, along with theology, religion and English composition courses.

Wallerstein grew up immersed in the English culture, learning about language and literature from a young age.

"My family was always reading and quoting poetry," he said. "It was something that was already in the family. I was following tradition by becoming a teacher."

Wallerstein has a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in English and earned a master&rsquos degree in theology from Harvard University. He said he enjoys taking familiar works such as the Bible and Shakespeare plays like Romeo &amp Juliet and showcasing them in a different manner.

"I really enjoy introducing students to things that are unfamiliar," Wallerstein said. "I want to show them a new perspective and make them think."

Wallerstein credits his colleagues for offering an excellent English program at the University. However, Wallerstein&rsquos colleagues said they take pride in working with him.

"Dr. Wallerstein is dedicated to both his field and his students," said Kent Meyers, professor of English at BHSU. "He brings an immense amount of learning into his classes. He simply does great work every day, leads by example and by enthusiasm."

"He serves B-H beautifully," said Amy Fuqua, professor of English at BHSU. "His students consistently love his classes," she said. "He&rsquos so highly organized, informative and has a gentle sense of humor."

She added that he is a point person in the English department, always available to provide academic resources and answer questions.

Wallerstein said it was a sign &ndash literally &ndash that brought him to BHSU in 1997.

Wallerstein was driving east from Montana to begin his education at Harvard. As he was traveling along Interstate-90, he saw a billboard advertising BHSU. Wallerstein said as he approached Spearfish, on a sunny July morning, he saw the BHSU campus from the interstate.

"I thought, wow that would be a great place to teach," he said. "I&rsquod always wanted to teach at a smaller, state university in a mountain town. I drove by and three years later a job opened and I applied.

"The mountains brought me to BHSU, but it&rsquos the students that have made it so special," Wallerstein said. "It&rsquos my life&rsquos work, shaping young people to become excellent high school teachers."

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