‘Gifted and Dedicated,’ Humphrey School's Kathy Quick Recognized with UMN’s Outstanding Teaching Award

April 5, 2021
Portrait of Kathy Quick
Associate Professor Kathy Quick, who teaches in the Humphrey School's leadership and management area, is being recognized with the University of Minnesota’s 2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education. Photo: Bruce Silcox

Known for her deep commitment to her students and their education experience at the Humphrey School, Associate Professor Kathy Quick has been named a winner of the University of Minnesota’s 2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education.

The award recognizes faculty who are excellent teachers, who engage students in a community of intellectual inquiry, who are significant mentors and role models for students, and who develop and promote activities that help students understand the larger context of their intended professions. Quick is one of eight award recipients this year. They were recognized at a ceremony on November 15. 

“I can't think of any award that could make me prouder. I absolutely love teaching and our students,” says Quick, associate professor and chair of the Humphrey School’s leadership and management area and academic co-director of the University’s interdisciplinary Center for Integrative Leadership.

Quick’s focus is bringing together people with diverse perspectives to work on high-stakes, complex, and often contentious public policy problems. Trained in public management and urban planning, she works in a variety of policy content areas, the common thread being identifying practices and processes that improve equity and inclusion. 

Colleagues who nominated her for the award praise Quick for her approach to teaching, which emphasizes collaboration and shared leadership that helps students discover how to manage difficult policy problems and processes. Her deep listening skills, ability to provide rigorous feedback, and long-term mentoring relationships make her a beloved advisor to master’s and doctoral students, they said. 

Humphrey School Professor Joe Soss, who won the same award five years ago, calls Quick “an unusually gifted and dedicated teacher.” 

“She is deeply committed to graduate education and engaged with its many facets. She designs innovative classes and works hard to create the atmosphere of support and security needed for students to succeed in a challenging course of study and turn a critical eye on their own beliefs,” Soss says. “Students shower praise on Professor Quick and routinely express their gratitude for the remarkable amounts of time and energy she puts into working with them as individual advisees.”

Quick is also highly regarded for her impactful contributions to equity and inclusion—within the Humphrey School and in the community at large.

As an example, one of Quick’s former teaching assistants Tyeastia Green (MPA ‘19), now director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging for the City of Burlington, Vermont, noted that Quick has continually reoriented her “Leadership in a Diverse World” course to address the killing of Black men by police, the inequity laid bare by the pandemic, and increasing White supremacist mobilization in Minnesota. Quick devoted additional time, brought in additional resource people, and revised the reading list to provide space for students to explore racialized topics in public affairs in a conducive environment.

“Professor Quick showed her own vulnerability to the topic of race and racism with the power of her own story,” said Green. “Her intention was to send a message to … students in the classroom that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) should not bear all of the labor of working on educating about racism, and that whites do have a place in leadership on anti-racism, which they can exercise and model by ‘being yourself.’”

“I am particularly dedicated to using my role to transform educational and policy environments so women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ community members can thrive,” Quick says. “As we are a public policy school, a central part of our curriculum is to teach students to engage respectfully across differences and to engage explicitly with power, inclusion/exclusion, and equity. I have prioritized improving classroom climates to welcome all, enabling healthy debate across differences, and being a resource to other faculty on advancing equity and inclusion in their teaching.”

“Kathy is so very deserving of this recognition,” says Dean Laura Bloomberg. “She exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding teacher by setting very high student expectations, challenging assumptions, and concurrently offering students the support they need to develop their own capacity to lead the way in solving real-world challenges.”

Quick will receive a cash award and will be inducted into the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Her name will be added to the UMN Scholars Walk