Debra Minsky-Kelly
All Stories

Carthage congratulates social work professor Debbie Minsky-Kelly, winner of the 2020-21 Distinguished Teaching Award.

The previous year’s recipient, Professor James Lochtefeld, made the announcement April 29 via email. Safety precautions related to the pandemic prevented the College from holding an in-person awards gathering again this year.

The Board of Trustees created the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1967. Each year, a confidential committee selects the winner based on nominations from students and colleagues.

Prof. Minsky-Kelly joined the Carthage faculty in 2018 as a clinical assistant professor of social work. She also directs field education for the program — a natural fit, given her 25 years of experience as a clinical social worker.

Nominating students cited the passion, accessibility, and expertise this year’s honoree exhibits in teaching. They noted that Prof. Minsky-Kelly “genuinely puts her all into every class” and continually challenges them to “think in more open and inclusive ways.”

She also scores well for flexibility. By catering to different learning styles, students said Prof. Minsky-Kelly provides “an authentic and individualized learning experience.”

That ability to innovate particularly came into play when the coronavirus forced an abrupt shift to remote teaching. She allowed students to pick from an a la carte menu of assignments and helped seniors find alternate ways to meet clinical requirements when field agencies closed.

“The skill sets allowing for such adjustments have been honed by … work in settings marked by pain, disturbance, and genuine suffering — including mental health, intimate partner abuse, child welfare, substance abuse, and homeless health care,” Prof. Lochtefeld wrote.

After observing over and over the long-term damage that psychological trauma causes people, Prof. Minsky-Kelly made it her primary research focus. Here at Carthage, she has developed the Trauma Across Social Contexts course, participated in a Trauma and Wellness Conference, and led a community workshop on the topic.

The award recipient holds a Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Congratulations to Professor Minsky-Kelly!

Devoted to teaching