MACON – Dr. Clara Mengolini, assistant professor of Spanish literature in Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was named the recipient of this year’s Innovations in Teaching Award, co-sponsored by the Vulcan Materials Company and the University.
The award annually recognizes the efforts of a Mercer undergraduate faculty member who successfully provides student engagement learning opportunities in and outside the classroom.
“Dr. Mengolini is an engaging professor who continually works to develop new and innovative pedagogical approaches. She incorporates Spanish language study with assignments that encourage artistic expression. Her goal is to improve the speaking and writing skills of her students through casual conversation, role-playing, improvisation, debates and oral projects,” said Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “As one of her students wrote, Dr. Mengolini ‘cares about her students so much, and she puts her heart and soul into her class. She makes everyone feel comfortable to try speaking Spanish, and she encourages all of her students to express themselves.’ I can’t think of a more deserving professor to receive the Vulcan Innovations in Teaching Award.”
Dr. Mengolini joined Mercer’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature in 2015.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Latin American literature from the University of Buenos Aires, Master of Arts in Spanish literature from the University of South Carolina and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Vanderbilt University.
Her research focuses on Latin American literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly fantastic literature and children’s literature. She has published essays in prestigious academic journals Chasqui and Hispania, among others, and is working on several projects related to indoctrination in children’s literature in Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.
Dr. Mengolini teaches in the University’s Great Books and Integrative Curriculum programs and is an adviser to Spanish majors and first-year students.
She co-led Mercer On Mission trips to Ecuador in 2016 and 2017, where she and her students served as translators for the larger team also composed of economics, chemistry, engineering and public health students and faculty. In order to prepare for this work, she translated a handbook on artisanal gold mining so that her students would learn the specialized vocabulary needed on the trips.
Additionally, Dr. Mengolini and Dr. Antonio Saravia, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Economics and Liberty in Mercer’s School of Business, co-authored “What You Can Make with Freedom,” a children’s book that introduces basic economics ideas published by the Foundation for Economic Education. Dr. Mengolini and Dr. Saravia offer workshops to introduce the book and its concepts to elementary school teachers.
“This is a terrific award, and I feel extremely happy and grateful,” said Dr. Mengolini. “I thank my students, colleagues and dean for their constant support and encouragement. I believe that teaching and innovation go hand in hand. Every single day we face new challenges as educators and as role models for our students. These challenges force us to innovate and try different ways to develop in our students a passion for learning. That is probably what I love most about our jobs – the possibility to try, fail and create again and again.”
This year’s Innovations in Teaching Award will be formally presented at the faculty awards ceremony rescheduled for August.
About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialog and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit liberalarts.mercer.edu.