Christian University in Oregon Honors Psychology, Sociology Professors as Top Undergraduate Teacher and Researcher of Year

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Kris Kays and Lisa McMinn chosen for their contributions to George Fox University.

A psychology professor and a sociologist who has published four books in eight years were selected as George Fox University’s undergraduate teacher and researcher for the 2010-11 academic year, respectively.

Kris Kays, who has taught courses in the school’s psychology major since 2005, earned the teaching honor for her contributions as an instructor, mentor and advisor. Lisa McMinn, a professor in the university’s sociology major, received the research award for her extensive teaching, writing and speaking engagements as a Christian sociologist.

In addition to her adjunct position with the George Fox doctor of psychology (PsyD) program, Kays worked a busy schedule this year covering classes in counseling, human sexuality, abnormal psychology, general psychology and first-year seminar. She also taught a section of the university’s Liberal Arts and Critical Issues course, which engages senior students in research and response to a public issue of current significance.

Colleagues praise Kays for her ability to use class activities, lectures, presentations and creative assignments to keep students engaged.

“I’ve had some amazing role models and colleagues, and honestly, I couldn’t do this job nearly as well if I wasn’t surrounded by so many high-quality people who support what we do as a department,” said Kays, who earned her bachelor’s degree at George Fox in 1987 and her doctor of psychology at the school in 1994. “It sounds cliché, but you need that support – and that’s not something you get at every school.”

One student described Kays as “the most influential professor at our school,” and as someone who has “had the most impact on my life.” Another wrote that, “Life has been extremely difficult for me, and (professor Kays) has given me tools to help not only others but myself as well.”

McMinn was honored for scholarship that impacts both the campus and the community at large.
McMinn’s scholarship is expressed in a variety of outlets, including books, articles, blogs – including the Christianity Today blog – and speaking engagements. On campus, she served as a panelist addressing homosexuality and the Bible and presented a LACI lecture on “Seeing Sexuality: Understanding the Cultural Landscape.”

Off campus, McMinn’s scholarly activities include presenting papers at national professional meetings. She’s also been a chapel speaker at Asbury College, Trinity Western University and Wheaton College.

As an author over the past eight years, McMinn has published “Growing Strong Daughters” (two editions), “The Contented Soul: The Art of Savoring Life” and “Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World.” Her most recent book is “Walking Gently on the Earth: Making Faithful Choices About Food, Energy, Shelter and More.”

As a professor of sociology, McMinn teaches Introduction to Sociology, Social Change, Sociology of Families, Social Theory, Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Sexuality. She recently completed five years at George Fox.

“I was surprised to win the award – I spend less time doing straight-forward research than I presume most winners of the award do,” McMinn said. “Besides, my writing is warm and inviting, but it’s also edgy and can make readers uncomfortable. I’d like to think the award is an affirmation that I’m inviting enough in my writing to help readers stick it out even given the corresponding discomfort they may feel.”

On her writing, McMinn said, “I primarily use my writing to be a social critic and interpreter of culture for Christian audiences, although I also write for scholarly journals. In my preferred interpreter mode, I ask hard questions, help readers understand the story behind an issue and to wrestle with how our faith should inform the ways we respond.”

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes as the top Christian college in the Pacific Northwest and among the top three Christian colleges in the country. George Fox is the only Christian university in the Pacific Northwest classified by U.S. News & World Report as a first tier national university. More than 3,400 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem, and Redmond, Ore., and Boise, Idaho. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, five seminary degrees, and 11 master’s and doctoral degrees.

Patrick Allen
Provost, George Fox University

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Patrick Allen