Two LAS faculty recognized for their excellence in teaching

Kathleen Hilliard, associate professor in the Department of History, and Chad Sonka, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Music and Theatre, have been named the Jerry Shakeshaft Master Teachers for 2023 in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) at Iowa State University. Hilliard and Sonka were recognized at the LAS 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards Ceremony in April.

The Shakeshaft Master Teacher is presented annually at Iowa State to outstanding teachers in the humanities and social sciences. The award was established in memory of Jerry Shakeshaft by his family, friends, and colleagues. Shakeshaft was a long-time political science professor at Iowa State who held a life-long dedication to the principle of undergraduate teaching.

Kathleen Hilliard

Hilliard joined Iowa State in 2008. She is the author of “Masters, Slaves, and Exchange: Power’s Purchase in the Old South.” She is currently writing “Bonds Burst Asunder: The Revolutionary Politics of Getting By in Civil War and Emancipation, 1860-1867,” and “Vanishing Matilda: Love, Murder, and Vengeance in the Old South.”

Hilliard is honored to be selected for this award.

“The Shakeshaft Award highlights the value of a humanities education in a predominately STEM institution,” she said. “It’s important for me to teach honest history with integrity, and for my students to learn how to ask good questions.”

Hilliard will use the award to attend conferences and engage with fellow scholars.


Photo of Chad SonkaChad Sonka

Sonka joined Iowa State in 2017.  Aside from teaching applied voice, he is co-director of the Iowa State University Opera Studio with Jodi Goble, teaching professor. This semester, the opera studio will perform Gilbert and Sullivan pieces from four operettas. Outside of Iowa State, Sonka is executive director of the Savannah Voice Festival.

For Sonka, being able to work with students is a fulfilling job.

“It’s an honor to be receiving this award for teaching voice and opera, especially with the influence of the great bass-baritone, Simon Estes, so near,” he said.

The fellowship will allow Sonka to pursue performance opportunities and hone his craft.