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History professor’s campus, community service recognized with IU award

Faculty May 28, 2024
Two women stand holding an award

KOKOMO, Ind. — If you see a place improvement is needed, get involved.

That’s Sarah Heath’s philosophy on service, a viewpoint that’s led her to volunteer on the Indiana University Kokomo campus, in her department, and in the Kokomo community.

Heath, professor of history, was honored for her dedication with the George W. Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service at IU’s Celebration of Teaching and Service dinner in Bloomington.

“To receive an award that gives recognition across all IU campuses was just mind-blowing,” Heath said. “When people acknowledge your contributions and extend an award like that, it is very meaningful to know they regard your service level and commitment as being very deep.”

Scott Jones, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, commended her for her service.

“Sarah Heath’s remarkable commitment to improving the lives of others at the university and within our community is joined with a phenomenal ability to achieve transformative results,” he said. “The university and the state of Indiana are fortunate to have such an outstanding faculty member.”

Since joining the faculty in 2008, Heath’s service has included serving as faculty advisor for the history and political science student organization, chairing her department, mentoring other faculty, presenting lectures on campus and for local organizations, moderating community conversations, participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument committee, and serving on the Douglass School Committee to restore and revitalize the former Black school.

“The Douglass School project has been really rewarding,” she said, adding that she brings expertise not only in history, but in working with a National Parks project related to Brown vs. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that separating children in public schools based on race was unconstitutional.

“I was able to bring in a lot of what I knew about policy questions and the law, and a broader history related to desegregation debates,” she said. “That school is really making progress toward becoming a new cultural center.”

On campus, she’s co-led KEY trips to sites significant to World War II in Europe, giving her time to support the faculty member teaching the English class that prepares students for the experience. Her work — including planning, recruiting, class presentations, and traveling — was above and beyond expected duties, since she was not the instructor for the class.

Heath has also served her colleagues, performing more than 400 peer observations, and assisting in course and curriculum development.

“I have always worked in surroundings where the people I align most closely with are the ones who say you can’t just sit back and complain if you believe something needs to be fixed, or that progress needs to be made,” she said. “We should all work together to make that happen. Everyone will tell you they are busy. If you believe these things are important enough, you make an effort and try to get involved in improving the situation around you.”

Heath previously received the 2022 IU President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Established in 1988, the award is named after W. George Pinnell, former executive vice president of Indiana University and former president of the IU Foundation, who was known for his stewardship, leadership, initiative, and service to state and national government.

This award honors faculty members and librarians who have proven to be deeply committed to serving the university, their profession, or the public. Their work has created greater capacity at the university, impacted their field in a significant way, or benefited a community at local, state, national, or international levels.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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