The Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching is given each year to a full-time faculty member whose teaching has had a marked influence on the lives of Stonehill students. The Committee on Excellence in Teaching, representing Students, Faculty, and the Alumni Council, selects the outstanding teacher from those nominated by students and faculty members. The award is named in honor of one of Stonehill’s most accomplished teachers and the recipient stands as a symbol of the entire faculty’s commitment to teaching and academic excellence. At this 2016 Academic Convocation, Stonehill College is proud to bestow the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching on Professor Helga L. Duncan.

Professor Duncan’s commitment to teaching excellence and care-filled advising is abundantly clear in the words of those students and faculty.

  • Professor Duncan epitomizes what it means to be an academic, a teacher, and a mentor. Her classes are consistently engaging and thought-provoking, she places the well-being and learning of her students before her own convenience, she displays an honest and fervent passion for her work, and her classes emphasize growth and accomplishment without sacrificing the humor and egalitarianism for the best learning.
  • Helga Duncan is undoubtedly one of the best teachers I have ever had. She is extremely passionate about her work, and teaches in a way that is interesting and engaging…She truly cares about her students, and even in a larger seminar class, I felt like she set aside time to get to know me at a personal level.
  • Perhaps few people could see how “Lost” or “Sex in the City” might relate to themes in Renaissance drama, but Prof. Duncan’s use of such cultural references enhances comprehension of an era that might otherwise be irrelevant or uninteresting for students. Combined with a palpable passion for her content specialty and knowledge, such classes make “a Duncan class” a staple and highlight for most English majors at Stonehill.
  • One need only bring up her name in casual conversation to be inundated with praise for her teaching, her intellect, or her overwhelmingly kind spirit…She enlightens, she challenges, she inspires.
  • The common thread that binds student evaluations from one semester to the next include the effusive admiration for Prof. Duncan’s clarity, organization, classroom management, concern for student improvement, and of course, her dynamism and attentiveness as a teacher and mentor. Were we to compile a concordance of Prof. Duncan’s evaluations…we would find that “caring,” “challenging,” “encouraging,” “inspiring,” “kind,” and “passionate” are among those that appear with the most frequency (along with “awesome!”).

When Prof. Duncan applied for a faculty position back in 2005, one of her recommendation letters began with the simple exhortation: “Fortunate the department that hires Helga DUNCAN.” Fortunate indeed both for the English department and for Stonehill. And so with deep pride we today recognize Professor Helga L. Duncan for exemplifying Stonehill’s commitment to provide an education of the highest caliber that fosters critical thinking, free inquiry, and the interchange of ideas.

Given this thirty-first day of August,

Two thousand and sixteen