Online Press Room
MCC Names Sarah Ruthven 2019 Faculty Member of the Year[Monday, March 25, 2019]
Sarah Ruthven, MCC 2019 Faculty of the Year
McHenry County College art instructor Sarah Ruthven is fascinated with the beauty and relevance of art history and enjoys sharing her expertise and passion of the visual world with students. To keep her subject matter relevant and meaningful to students, she often infuses popular culture and personal narratives. Her course content and assignments explore technique and interpretation.
Her commitment to excellence in teaching has earned her the distinction of being selected MCC’s nominee for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s (ICCTA) 2019 Outstanding Full-Time Faculty member award and MCC’s 2019 Full-Time Faculty of the Year. She will be honored with other nominees throughout the state at the ICCTA annual convention in June in Itasca.
“I like the interaction with students,” Ruthven said. “When I introduce something complicated and I guide them through the material and all of a sudden, it clicks for them, that’s a privileged thing to be a part of.”
Ruthven originally studied elementary education in college, but she changed her major to art history after becoming inspired by a memorable and well-traveled female professor, who shared slides of her travels around the world, including standing in front of pyramids and other historic sites and landmarks.
“There was something so fascinating, so romantic about it.” Ruthven said. “She saw a history that most people don’t ever see.”
“As an instructor, my focus is getting students to understand how to analyze and interpret artwork,” Ruthven said. “I teach students how to think through an image rather than memorize the style, for example.”
“Sarah does an exemplary job of instructing our students and challenging them to understand the origins of art creation,” said Chris Gray, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs and Workforce Development. “She is well-respected by students and her peers. Her commitment to student learning and to the college as a whole makes her deserving of MCC’s Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award.”
“Sarah Ruthven has been one of my favorite teachers so far at MCC,” said Reese Scarnato of Algonquin. “She makes the classroom feel so comfortable and inviting. There’s never a feeling of being judged for saying how you feel about a certain piece of art. Sarah makes her lectures so interesting that I don't want to ever miss class.”
In addition to teaching, Ruthven has been a participant and a leader on campus during her 12 years at MCC. Most recently, she has been instrumental in rebuilding the MCC 101 Freshman Experience course. She led a committee of 20 people to refocusing the needs and goals of the course and led an initiative to rewrite the course materials.
She also helped usher in and regularly conducts workshops for students who are working on their E-Portfolio, a graduation requirement. Currently, she is chair of Academic Assessment and is leading the committee and college through a course revision process.
In addition to teaching art history, art appreciation, and humanities through the arts Ruthven co-teaches Gandhi’s Playlist: Eastern Philosophy and Non-Western Art History with philosophy instructor Tim Seitz.
Amy Ortiz, Ph.D., MCC art instructor, expressed her appreciation for Ruthven.
“Sarah is deserving of this award because she is extremely focused and driven,” Ortiz said. “These qualities enable her to get the job done, with the students of MCC always first in her mind. I have worked closely with Sarah for 12 years, and I have watched her become a formidable presence in all aspects of college business.”
“I can't think of a person more deserving to be named MCC's Faculty of Year than Sarah Ruthven,” said Christine Grela, psychology instructor. “She has been a tremendous asset to the college, not only in the classroom where she ties in current examples and technology to engage students, but in her many leadership roles on campus. She is well-respected among all of her colleagues for her dedication and attention to details.”
Ruthven recently completed her second Master of Arts degree in modern and contemporary art history and criticism from Azusa Pacific University. She earned her Associate in Arts degree from Southwest Community College in San Diego, her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the University of San Diego and her Master of Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also won the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Teaching Excellence Award in 2010. She resides in Rolling Meadows with Josue Aguilera and their five-year-old son.