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Kevin Rabas Named 2018 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor

April 13, 2018

Professor Kevin J. Rabas, second from right, wears the presidential medallion he received Friday, April 13, 2018, during the surprise announcement that he is the 2018 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor at Emporia State University. With him are, from left, Dr. Brent Thomas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Allison D. Garrett, ESU president; and Dr. David Cordle, ESU provost and vice president for academic affairs. 

“A rare sort of teacher who not only informs and instructs, but also ignites passion for his subject matter and inspires his students to achieve everything their potential allows.”

That description of Dr. Kevin J. Rabas was one of many from colleagues and former students recommending Rabas’ selection as the 2018 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor at Emporia State University — the 40th professor to receive the honor.

Rabas, professor and chair of ESU’s Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism, learned of his award during a surprise announcement Friday morning at the beginning of his Introduction to Creative Writing class.

“It’s such a great honor to be here and among my students to hear this,” Rabas said after Provost David Cordle explained the award to his class and President Allison Garrett presented him with a presidential medallion. “ 

Today we’re writing starts to ten-minute plays and what a neat interruption — a moment of drama, a ceremonial drama.”

Rabas joined the Emporia State faculty in August 2005 and has taught a variety of courses: composition, literature, poetry, drama and creative writing. He has served as co-advisor of Quivira, the ESU student literary organization, since fall 2005 and as co-director of the Creative Writing Program from 2008 to 2015. Other service to the university includes five years on Faculty Senate including a one-year term as Faculty President.

He also has earned a reputation outside Emporia State University as a poet, playwright, author and jazz percussionist. A year ago, Rabas was named Poet Laureate of Kansas by the Kansas Humanities Council. He has published nine books with a 10th due out this year, four plays and numerous short stories.

Rabas earned a bachelor of arts degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing and journalism in 1995 from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. In 1998, he completed a master of arts degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Kansas State University. His master of fine arts degree in creative writing came from Goddard College in 2002. In 2007, he earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas.

“Kevin Rabas is widely recognized and admired as a prolific and award-winning poet (and musician), a serious scholar, a gifted performer and an inspiriting teacher and mentor, who has integrated all these facets of accomplishment into a remarkable career,” wrote Dr. Mel Storm, professor in English, Modern Languages and Journalism. “His work helps keep Emporia State on the cultural map.”

The Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor Award has been given since 1979 to the ESU professor who best demonstrates teaching excellence, professional activities, fostering of intellectual atmosphere, service to the university outside the classroom and status as a student mentor. The award includes $1,000 to be used for professional activities.

As the 2018 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, Rabas will be honored at a university reception. He will be listed in the spring commencement program and be the speaker at the December 2018 commencement.

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