Congrats to Professor Cognard-Black, Finalist for Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Celebrating great teachers

Jennifer Cognard-Black has been named among the shortlist of three finalists for Baylor University’s “2020 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching,” the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. It confers $250,000 to the award-wining recipient—the largest monetary award in the United States for teaching awards.

Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, Ph.D.

Cognard-Black led the course “Becoming a Great Essayist” with The Great Courses and will lead the upcoming course “American Short Story,” which is scheduled for release in September 2019. She also has been a participant in the “Exclusive Feature: Women of History” series of The Great Courses.

The winning recipient of the teaching award will be announced by Baylor University in spring 2020. If Professor Cognard-Black wins, she will join the esteemed company of two other Great Courses professors:

  • Kenneth W. Harl (winner in 2001): The Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations; The Vikings; The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes; Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire; Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity; The Ottoman Empire; The World of Byzantium; Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor; The Era of the Crusades; Rome and the Barbarians; The Peloponnesian War
  • Thomas L. Pangle (winner in 1991): The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

About the 2020 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

The Cherry Award program is designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching, and encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. Individuals nominated for the award have proven records as extraordinary teachers with positive, inspiring and long-lasting effects on students, along with records of distinguished scholarship.

The award was created by Robert Foster Cherry, who earned his A.B. from Baylor University in 1929. He enrolled in Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor students. The first Robert Foster Cherry Award was made in 1991 and has since been awarded biennially.

More about the Cherry Award is available at

About Jennifer Cognard-Black

Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black is Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public liberal arts college. She graduated summa cum laude from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a dual degree in Music and English.

She studied under Jane Smiley for her M.A. in Fiction and Essay Writing at Iowa State University and received her Ph.D. in 19th-Century British and American Literature from The Ohio State University.

Among her awards for teaching and writing, she was named a Fulbright Scholar to Slovenia, where she taught the American novel and creative writing. She was the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council individual artist award and was twice the recipient of the Faculty Student Life Award, the most prestigious teaching award at St. Mary’s, selected by the students themselves.

She was awarded Mellon Foundation grants on three separate occasions, and she won a gold medal in the national 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards contest for an anthology she edited. Nebraska Wesleyan University has named her a Distinguished Alumna and an Outstanding Graduate.

Professor Cognard-Black’s publications are extensive and eclectic, reflecting her intellectual background as both a writer and a literary critic. She is the author of numerous books, has published her essays and short fiction in a number of journals, and she has appeared on NPR.

Be sure to watch Professor Cognard-Black’s lecture series Becoming a Great Essayist on The Great Courses Plus today!