Elizabeth Legerski receives faculty professional development award

Liz Legerski

Elizabeth Legerski, associate professor of sociology, is the latest recipient of the Itterman Faculty Professional Development Award, the UND College of Arts & Sciences has announced.

The award, established in 2014, is given annually to one faculty member within the College in recognition of exemplary teaching while maintaining excellence in research and service.

After a call for nominations was circulated to department chairs and program directors, Legerski was unanimously selected from a competitive pool of nominees by the College’s Executive Committee.

“I feel honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to receive this award, especially following a year that created so many new challenges for teaching, research, and service,” Legerski said. “I am so grateful for the support of Dean Brad Rundquist and my department chair, Daphne Pedersen, who both lead in ways that make working at UND an enjoyable experience.”

Legerski has been with the Department of Sociology since 2010 with research interests including gender and social inequality as well as health and social policy. In April 2021, Legerski presented her latest work on sexual harassment and violence by way of UND’s Faculty Lecture Series.

Outstanding teacher

In addition to her recent tenure as University Senate chair, Legerski has served on the Council of College Faculties since 2017, is the Faculty Representative for the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and has been involved in leadership of the Midwest Sociological Society and UND United – the local chapter of North Dakota United.

College of Arts & Sciences Dean Brad Rundquist lauded Legerski for her leadership through the past academic year as University Senate chair. Rundquist said she was “highly successful” through a particularly difficult time at UND and higher education globally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am truly grateful that the College of Arts & Sciences is able to present the Itterman Faculty Professional Development Award each year to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching, research and service,” Rundquist said. “Dr. Legerski clearly demonstrates excellence in all three of those areas year after year.

“She is an outstanding teacher, engages in research that is important to the people of our state and region and takes on challenging duties in service to her department, the College of Arts & Sciences, UND, her profession and our community.”

Daphne Pedersen, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Sociology and department chair, wrote in support of Legerski’s nomination for the Itterman Award, saying that Legerski’s scholarship has been just as impactful as her teaching, where she regularly champions student research opportunities.

“In a short letter, it is hard to succinctly identify the many laudable and impactful aspects of her scholarship,” Pedersen wrote. “Suffice it to say, her record is impressive and her work has real impact.

“She is the colleague you want to have in your department; she is level-headed, approachable, open to new ideas and consistently treats others with respect. At the same time, she is not afraid to say ‘no’ and to respectfully disagree.”

Cash prize

In addition to the recognition from colleagues and peers, the Itterman Award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

“I would like to thank Katie Itterman for her generosity in supporting this award,” Legerski said. “The work we do as scholar-teachers does not always come with a lot of fanfare, so it feels nice to be recognized on occasion. It makes me want to give back and find similar ways to honor the outstanding work of my colleagues at UND.”

The award is named for alum Katie (Burgum) Itterman, who served a term on the College of Arts & Sciences’ Advisory Board before establishing the Itterman Endowment for Arts & Sciences Faculty Professional Development in 2011. Itterman earned a Bachelor of Arts from UND in 2003 with majors in English and Honors and went on to earn a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

Itterman currently serves as executive director of the Burgum Foundation, which recently provided a gift to UND in support of scholarships for rural North Dakota teachers.