General education group honors Halpern

by Janet Smith


Formal portrait of Dr. Linda Cabe Halpern seated at desk
Dr. Linda Cabe Halpern

Dr. Linda Cabe Halpern, vice provost for University Programs at James Madison University, received the Joseph Katz Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Practice and Discourse of General and Liberal Education from the Association for General and Liberal Studies. The award was presented at the professional organization’s 53rd annual conference, which was held Sept. 19-21 in Indianapolis.

Named for the late Joseph Katz, an influential proponent of general education, which he defined as “the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that all of us use and live by during most of our lives – whether as parents, citizens, lovers, travelers, participants in the arts, leaders, volunteers, or Good Samaritans,” the award celebrates the values of general and liberal education. During his academic career, Katz taught at Vassar College, the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“I am truly honored to receive this award, and also very humble when I consider the national leaders who have received it in the past,” Halpern said. “I know very well that it recognizes the success of hundreds of colleagues who have worked to make JMU’s General Education Program a national model.”

An art historian, Halpern has been a champion of general education and a leader in its development at JMU since joining the university faculty in 1986. From her service as her college’s representative to the original General Education Design Committee in the early 1990s to taking the helm as the founding dean of the university’s General Education program, The Human Community, in 1996, Halpern has guided the university’s students, faculty and administrative colleagues in her role as an advocate for academically rigorous general and liberal education.

In 2006, Halpern was named dean of University Studies to oversee the university’s academic programs that cross college or departmental lines, including the General Education Program, Honors Program, Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Program, Center for Assessment and Research Studies and University Advising.

Halpern served as board chair for the American Conference of Academic Deans from 2009 to 2011. The organization of academic leaders shares a commitment to student learning and the ideals of liberal education.

Much of the work in building the case for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at JMU is attributable to Halpern. She was a co-chair of the application committee that led the drive for the Phi Beta Kappa Society to vote in 2009 to establish a chapter of the nation’s oldest academic honor society at the university. Halpern was an officer of the Shenandoah Valley Association of Phi Beta Kappa, an organization of JMU faculty and staff and area citizens who had been inducted into the society.

Dr. Herbert K. Amato, associate vice provost, University Programs, and Provost A. Jerry Benson nominated Halpern for an AGLS award that recognizes service as a faculty member at one’s campus. Upon receiving the nomination, however, the AGLS board members decided that Halpern’s contributions at the national level warranted the Katz Award, which is given solely at the discretion of the board, according to Dr. Margaret M. Mulrooney, president-elect of AGLS and associate vice provost, University Programs, at JMU.

Dr. Georgia Polacek, Cluster Five coordinator and associate professor of health sciences at JMU, accepted the award on Halpern’s behalf. The dean is scheduled to give a plenary address at next year’s AGLS conference.

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 Oct. 3, 2013

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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