Dr. Melissa Valiska Gregory, associate professor of English, has been selected as the inaugural Presidential Faculty Fellowship recipient.
As the first chosen for the competitive mentorship program, Gregory will shadow President Sharon L. Gaber and Provost Andrew Hsu during spring semester.“I’m excited because the fellowship gives me the opportunity to serve the University in a new way,” Gregory said. “I’m a true believer in the mission of higher education; it’s always felt like a calling for me. Public universities should be beacons of excellence, representing all that’s best about a democratic society, which means we must find ways to offer the best education possible to as many citizens as we can.”
As a fellow, Gregory will receive a one-course release to work on projects that further the institution and receive insight into the skills needed in higher education administration.
“Melissa’s many contributions and achievements are impressive. It’s clear she is on the path to become an academic leader, and I look forward to having the chance to work with her during spring semester,” Gaber said.
“I, too, am looking forward to working with Melissa,” Hsu said. “It will be an honor to help her prepare to become a leader in higher education.”
“I’m eager to learn how to transfer the skills I’ve developed as a teacher and faculty member to the context of the Provost’s Office so that I can support UT’s ongoing advancement as an outstanding university,” Gregory said. “I know it will be an amazing learning opportunity.”
Six candidates applied for the fellowship when it was announced in September.
Gregory was selected based on her contributions to the institution and her emerging academic administrator qualities.
She joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor in 2002 and was promoted to associate professor in 2010. While at the University, she has received numerous honors, including several research fellowships and travel and learning grants. She also was named one of UT’s Outstanding Teachers in 2015 and served as a Master Teacher from 2008 to 2010.
In 2006, Gregory volunteered to build the English Department’s honors curriculum. She designed a research and method honors seminar that guides students through the writing of an honors thesis, including post-graduate advising that teaches them how to apply for internships and graduate programs. Those curricular improvements led to a 40 percent increase in departmental honors enrollment.
After that success, Gregory was appointed director of honors in the College of Arts and Letters. In this role, she collaborates with department chairs to improve honors programs and thesis offerings. She also works with college services and the college council to establish better tracking and advising of students.
An expert in Victorian studies, Gregory co-wrote a book titled “Charles Dickens: A Brief Biography” (2008). And she was editor of Marshall Gregory’s “Teaching Excellence in Higher Education,” which won the Society of Professors of Education Book Award in 2014.