Honors College 2023 Distinguished Faculty Award Winner Announced

Denise Harrison Announced as Recipient of Honors College Faculty Distinction


Distinguished Honors faculty award recipient Denise Harrison poses for a head and shoulders portrait.

The 37th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon was held on Saturday, April 22, 2023 in the Kent State University Ballroom to recognize seniors graduating in the spring, summer and fall of 2023. This ceremony also provides an opportunity for the Honors College to recognize faculty who have served the college with their time and efforts to allow for exceptional opportunities and experiences for Honors students. 

This year, the Honors College announced Denise A. Harrison as the 2023 Distinguished Honors Faculty award recipient. She is an instructor who works in the Department of Africana Studies (AFS). The Africana Studies department is a social activist program that interrogates social, racial, gender and class divisions with an eye on the representation and history of people of the African diaspora. Harrison has also previously taught for the Department of English at Kent State. 

Harrison currently serves as a Freshmen Honors Colloquium (FHC) instructor in the Honors College, a foundational course for the Honors experience. In FHC, a cohort of students meet with the same instructor for both fall and spring semesters of their first year, focusing on critical thinking, examining ideas closely, and expressing their own ideas in both oral and written form. This unique course is students’ first opportunity to develop and understand the long argument - the ability to follow trains of thought and ideas that reach back throughout the year, bringing together many lines of argument and reasoning.  

This academic year, Harrison instructed a course over the fall and spring semesters on Shakespeare “Race,” Class and Gender: Early Modern Mirroring our Postmodern World. This Freshman Honors Colloquium course looked into Shakespeare’s world, the staging of major and minor plays with an emphasis on the constructions of “race,” gender, class and sexual minorities in Early Modern England. This course uses Shakespeare’s Early Modern world to critique post-modern representations of gender, class and multiculturalism. 

Harrison also serves as a social justice quilt artist, residing in Twinsburg, Ohio. She has recently joined Quilt National Committee as a new member. Harrison has received a $10,000 Knight Foundation grant to launch a digital quilt project working with the Indigenous community of Northeastern Ohio, as well as the Akron Art Story: Not Your Mother’s Quilting Bee. Her quilts have been included in exhibitions in Ohio, New York and she also showcases a piece in the permanent collection of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The instructor, social justice advocate and quilter earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Akron and her graduate degree from Miami University of Ohio. 

During her acceptance of the faculty award, Harrison stated, “I believe in students. I believe if we give them our best and we challenge you, you will rise to that occasion. I believe in teaching students to learn, to listen and show empathy towards others. I believe learning is transferable and I’ve seen it in action in the students in the Honors College.” 

Harrison will retire this year after 17 years of dedicated teaching for both the Honors College and Kent State University.  

The Distinguished Honors Faculty Award began in 1992 and recognizes excellence in Honors teaching based on advising of independent work, years of service and a record of strong teaching performance. View the complete list of previous recipients on the Honors College website. 

live stream of the entire 37th Annual Senior Honors luncheon, including Harrison’s acceptance speech, was recorded at the Honors College event. 

For more information about the Honors College, please visit the Honors College website.


PHOTO CAPTION 1: Distinguished Honors faculty award recipient Denise Harrison poses for a head and shoulders portrait.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312 



POSTED: Tuesday, May 9, 2023 02:40 PM
UPDATED: Sunday, July 14, 2024 04:00 AM
Honors College Marketing Coordinator, Stephanie Moskal