Valerie Lee Earns Francis Andrew March Award

February 26, 2019
Valerie Lee

The Association of Departments of English (ADE) Executive Committee has named Valerie B. Lee the recipient of the twenty-­seventh annual Francis Andrew March Award

Rooted in the values of the liberation movements of the late twentieth century, Lee’s lifework of pathbreaking scholarship, administrative genius and powerful teaching offers a blueprint for bringing the movements’ energy, creativity and inclusivity into our classrooms and up to the highest levels of the university. Her long list of publications indicates both the breadth of her career—which has continued unabated in her official retirement from Ohio State University in 2015—and also her advocacy of scholarship in a variety of forms, including two monographs, a handbook for administrating women’s studies programs, and the first comprehensive anthology of African American women’s literature ever published. At home in a variety of genres and forms, she championed the flowering of digital scholarship at Ohio State as chair of the English department. Her administrative service in English, women’s studies and African American and African studies and at the vice presidential level at Ohio State is legendary: she made people’s lives easier and showed a determination to bring in people from underserved communities and then empower them. Lee was a member of the ADE’s Executive Committee from 2005 to 2007 and was the 2007 president of the ADE. Her tireless advocacy work for inclusion and diversity while on the ADE Executive Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of African American Faculty Members in English directly led to a Mellon-­funded Summer Institute for Literary and Cultural Studies that helped create a pipeline for people of color from undergraduate to graduate study and into faculty positions. And she did all this while occupying the exhilarating but often lonely position of “first”: first African American woman tenured and promoted to full professor at Denison University; first African American woman to chair Ohio State’s Department of Women’s Studies; first African American and first woman to chair Ohio State’s Department of English. Lee received the award at the 2019 MLA Annual Convention’s awards ceremony in Chicago in January.

About the March Award

In 1984 the ADE Executive Committee established the Francis Andrew March Award to recognize and honor distinguished service to the profession of English at the postsecondary level. March (1825–1911) was a professor of English at Lafayette College and the first professor of English in the United States. In establishing the award, the ADE committee wanted to hold up as an ideal the scholar and teacher who accepts responsibility for strengthening the life and work of departments, the field, and the English studies community considered as a whole. The stature of the individual’s contribution to the profession has been paramount in the executive committee’s considerations, and the committee has sought to recognize the exceptional contributions of individuals in all of ADE’s divisions—larger and smaller BA- and MA-granting departments, two-year colleges, and PhD-granting departments. The award is given occasionally, as appropriate nominees come to the committee’s attention.

Originally published on the Association of Departments of English's website. Click here for full article.

Edits made by Madalynn Conkle