Justin Kirk, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Communication Studies, was presented with a Professor of the Month award by the Black Masque Chapter of the Mortar Board national honor society.
Each month, the group recognizes impactful instructors who display outstanding scholarship, leadership, and service on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. Nominated and voted upon by the current members of Mortar Board, their goal is to recognize and celebrate the individuals who make the university great.
Kirk's nominator wrote:
I was recently chatting with another senior who has taken Dr. Kirk's classes (that student is actually taking his third course with Dr. Kirk this semester!) and we both agreed that he is the best lecturer at UNL. Dr. Kirk's teaching style is equally as academic as it is entertaining. He strikes the perfect balance between intellectual rigor and relatability. I remember once thinking that it would be great if other professors sat in on Dr. Kirk's lectures to learn from him.
His syllabus for Presidential Rhetoric also dedicated days of class to students' topics of interest—this deliberate openness shows that Dr. Kirk genuinely cares about fostering students' curiosity and servicing meaningful learning. Taking Dr. Kirk's rhetoric course has changed the way I view politics and will continue to guide my consumption of political media in the upcoming presidential race. This forever-changed behavior is the idolized impact of a liberal arts education itself—I feel I am a better critical thinker for having taken one of Dr. Kirk's courses.
In addition to cultivating some of the most riveting scholarly discussions on campus, and being of service to his students, Dr. Kirk also led the university's debate team to two consecutive national championships in 2022 and 2023. As a Husker Speech student who is in cahoots with many of the debators, I can also confirm that while students are challenged competitively, their well-being is not challenged. An unfortunate commonality among many high school forensics (speech and debate) students is poor coaching and a culture that prioritizes results over people. To my understanding, the debate culture under Dr. Kirk's leadership is positive and emphasizes the holistic health of students.
Through clear showcases of scholarship, service, and leadership, professor Justin Kirk is an ideal candidate to be recognized by Mortar Board.