Murphy Award winner: Nancy Gabin

May 1, 2012

Nancy Gabin, associate professor of history and 2012 Murphy award winner. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Six exceptional teachers were honored with 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards in Memory of Charles B. Murphy at the Faculty Awards Convocation on April 26. This week, Purdue Today will feature a profile on each of the recipients. Today, we focus on Nancy Gabin, associate professor of history.

To Gabin, American history isn't a list of dates and events students must memorize and regurgitate. Rather, it's a living story that, in myriad ways, tells the shared stories of the students studying it.

Gabin has followed that philosophy to great teaching success since coming to Purdue in 1983. In addition to the Murphy Award, she has won the history department's Jon C. Teaford Teaching Award, has twice won the College of Liberal Arts' Award for Educational Excellence and has been inducted into the University's Book of Great Teachers, among other accolades.

Gabin's use of visual, print, audio, film and other media materials puts students in direct contact with historical sources. For example, in a course titled "America in the 1960s," Gabin employs documentary film footage -- as well as popular films, television shows, periodicals and music -- to help students understand that turbulent decade.

"I want my lectures to be compelling and provocative," Gabin says. "I welcome and encourage my students' reading of and responses to images, texts and other visual and audio sources, because it provides momentum and substance during classroom discussions. I want my classroom to be interactive, and not just me being didactic."

For more than two decades, Gabin has worked to improve undergraduate education at Purdue. During 1989 and 1990, she participated in a committee that redesigned the College of Liberal Arts' core curriculum. Ten years later, she chaired the committee that updated that curriculum. Now, she serves as the college's representative on the committee that is designing and implementing Purdue's first university core curriculum. Gabin also has been a leader in teaching women's studies on campus. 

Student reviews glow with praise for Gabin's classes.

"She is more accessible than any professor I have had at Purdue," one student writes. "Her class is great and she is very enthusiastic about what she teaches. She helps us develop a love for the material."