Robert Siegle, of Blacksburg, professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, received the Virginia Tech 2004 Diggs Teaching Scholar Award.
The Diggs Program was initiated in 1992 to recognize and foster excellence, imagination, and innovation in linking scholarship and teaching. Competition is open to faculty of all ranks, and a faculty committee chooses the recipients, who receive a plaque. Both the recipient and the department receive a cash award.
One student may have summed up Siegle’s effect on students. According to Lucinda Roy, department head, a student said recently, "This course changed my life...The world is new to me."
Even a fellow professor, who sat in on one of Siegle’s classes, said, "I went every day, all semester, because I knew how valuable the information he was giving me was. His explanations opened doors for me into my own work."
Department Head Lucinda Roy said Siegle’s innovative teaching of a first-year writing course "led the department to ask him to lead revisions of the entire composition program."
Siegle’s interest in South Asia "led him to several versions of a new course in Postcolonial Cultural Studies," which led to a multi-media web site, Roy said. "Bob’s interest in contemporary work in literature, film, architecture, and music has produced a series of new courses in Contemporary Culture, taught both in the college of Architecture and Urban Affairs and English."
Siegle will use his Diggs Scholar Roundtable discussion time to take on the issue of the interaction of research and teaching. "How," he asked, "do we deploy our continuously evolving professional imaginations in ways that sweep our students up in what could easily otherwise be a narcissistic rambling through the rarified zones of our own emergent thought?" The discussion "ought to matter to everyone who has felt at times that his or her research brain and teaching brain seem to dwell in parallel universes." Teaching/research synergy, he wrote, "is a hard-won tactical victory rather than a natural fact" and "that magical quality…only rarely happens by accident."
Siegle earned his bachelor’s summa cum laude from Emory and Henry College, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has served as director of Virginia Tech’s Writing Program and has won numerous awards, including the Certificate of Teaching Excellence and Fulbright awards to India and Sri Lanka. His grants include a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Seminar at Yale University and other NEH stipends for research and a CEUT/UOIP project grant for internationalizing the curriculum. He is the author of The Politics of Reflexivity: Narrative and the Constitutive Poetics of Culture, Suburban Ambush: Downtown Writing and the Fiction of Insurgency, and Mirror to Mirror: Postmodernity in South Asian Fiction, as well as several electronic publications. He has served as publication reviewer for The Johns Hopkins University Press, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Little Brown & Company, St. Martin’s Press, W.W. Norton, and Wesleyan/New England University Press. He has served on the Fellowship Selection Panel for the NEH and the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars.
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The college nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of apparel, housing and resource management, communication, educational leadership and policy studies, English, foreign languages and literatures, history; human development, interdisciplinary studies, music, philosophy, political science, ROTC, science and technology in society, sociology, teaching and learning, and theatre arts.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.