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RSA 2020 Virtual Awards ... Announcing the Winners of the Geisler & Early Career Awards

Welcome to day two of the 2020 RSA Virtual Awards Ceremony!

Today, we released videos announcing the recipients of another two RSA awards: the Cheryl Geisler Award for Outstanding Mentor and the RSA Fellows’ Early Career Award. If you haven’t already seen the videos, you can find them here and here. The University of Texas at Austin Writing Center generously sponsored this portion of the 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony.

The Cheryl Geisler Award for Outstanding Mentor is presented biennially at the time of the RSA conference. This award honors individuals who during their careers have demonstrated exceptional commitment to mentoring through such activities as guiding, supporting, and promoting the education, training and career development of their students or junior colleagues. 

The recipient of this year’s Geisler Award is Prof. Keith Gilyard, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and African American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Prof. Gilyard’s 40+ year record of mentorship of minoritized students has made a tangible difference in the field and contributed mightily to its visible diversity. He has mentored students at different institutional levels and in diverse organizations. He develops close relationships with mentees and is consistently available to them. Prof. Gilyard has mentored many important Black scholars in our discipline(s) who have themselves gone on to diversify the field even more through their own mentorship, a crucial means of combating and changing a whitestream discipline and academy. Prof. Gilyard’s mentorship has significantly influenced the fields of Black/African American rhetorics, technorhetorics, multilingual rhetorics, and rhetoric as a whole. Through his interventions as a mentor, scholar, and teacher, he has encouraged students beyond those in his courses to pursue advanced degrees and help make needed changes to the academy and society. His recommenders make it clear that his counsel regarding the invisible labor that accompanies being a marginalized person in the academy has been invaluable for their professional and mental health. Prof. Gilyard has worked to make room for members of minoritized communities over the course of his career, and the letters remind us that his teaching and mentorship are cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and on-going.  As the members of the selection committee (Christina Cedillo, Lisa Keranen, and Ersula Ore) explain, his influence and insight continue to drive the direction of various fields in new ways.


The RSA Fellows’ Early Career Award honors a current member of the Rhetoric Society of America who has established an innovative and robust research record within eight years of having earned the Ph.D. degree  

The recipient of this year’s Early Career Award is Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. The selection committee (Richard Enos, Frederick Antczak, and Jack Selzer) found that Dr. Mehlenbacher distinguished herself within a large and diverse pool of nominees. Since earning her doctorate from North Carolina State University in 2014, Professor Mehlenbacher has established herself, through her Ohio State University Press book and her numerous articles, as an expert on genre dynamics in online scientific communication. The committee further commends Dr. Mehlenbacher for her active, sustained participation in conferences, workshops and panels, as well as for her service and leadership at her university and in our profession. To quote from the letter of nomination: “Her work is both rigorous and novel, combining approaches derived from the humanist tradition of rhetorical criticism and the empirical tradition of cognitive linguistics. Throughout, she aims to integrate scholarship from science studies, cognitive science, the digital humanities, and a range of other disciplines to put rhetoric into conversations at the forefront of interdisciplinary humanities.”

Congratulations to both these awardees and to all the excellent nominees. Thank you for your work.

We hope that you saw yesterday’s announcement of RSA’s two student awards. If not, follow these links to find the Outstanding Student Chapter announcement and the Gerard A. Hauser Awards announcement.

Please join us tomorrow to learn the recipients of the Kneupper Award, the RSA Dissertation Award, and the RSA Book Award.

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