June 22, 2018: Eastern University is pleased to acknowledge the 2018 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching recipient is Dr. Diane Chen, a professor of New Testament at Palmer Theological Seminary. The winner was announced by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Kenton L. Sparks, at the 2018 commencement ceremonies. Dr. Chen is the first Seminary faculty to receive the award at Eastern.
Dr. Sparks described the award by saying, "The Lindback Award recognizes those who demonstrate the ability to transform the lives of students through education. Nominations for this award come from faculty, and the decision process is informed by analysis of student evaluations and direct classroom observations by a committee of former award winners. Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching are generous monetary gifts given at universities across the country. The winner must be a faculty person who has demonstrated teaching that is coherent and lasting in its effects and informed by scholarly competence; who provides students with a critical view of the discipline and relates the discipline to other disciplines and to a Christian perspective; who reflects openness to new ideas, is free of bias, and whose teaching aims toward the pursuit of truth."
Of student feedback Dr. Sparks said, “Repeatedly, students describe this professor as one whose whole demeanor exudes a loving, joyous hospitality. Her classroom is often described as ‘a casual, safe place’ or as ‘a truly pastoral and spiritual environment’, because this professor ‘cares about students so much’ and is so ‘constructive and encouraging’, someone who has ‘a knack for correcting students without belittling them’. Many students refer to this professor's ‘transparency’ and ‘humility’ and ‘vulnerability’. One student said simply, ‘She teaches straight from the heart’, and another noted how the professor ‘brought herself and her life into the classroom, so that I was learning to do the same thing, to connect MY story to Scripture, and to take risks to share that story.’”
Additionally, Dr. Sparks continued, “According to many students, at the heart of her success is this professor's simple, unabashed love for God and his Word. She is committed to handling holy Scripture with supreme integrity both academically and personally, and she therefore calls her students to the same high standard. One student commented that this professor is ‘one of the most humble, knowledgeable, Spirit-led teachers I've ever encountered’; another observed that, for this professor, everything ‘starts with God and ends with God’; yet another said, ‘each class is like attending worship.’”
In concluding his remarks Dr. Sparks shared, “These words might summarize this professor in all manner of ways: she informs and she inspires. Whether in her classroom teaching, or in her engagement with students in other venues, or in her excellent biblical scholarship, or in her wise and remarkably gracious administrative labors on behalf of Palmer Theological Seminary, this professor has exemplified the focused, compassionate, rigorous, Christ-centered excellence that Eastern University desires for all of its faculty and for all of its students. We are blessed to have her among us.”