Dr. Jane Haladay’s impact on UNCP student Zack Young extends well beyond the classroom.
A staple in the American Indian Studies department for nearly two decades, Haladay displayed an interest in Young’s growth not only as a student, but also as a person––a trait that resonates with many of Haladay’s former students.
“As my mentor, a lot of times, our meetings were not about research at all,” Young said. “She was someone I could lean on for support in times of need. Dr. Haladay was not only my professor and mentor––she was a friend.”
Dr. Haladay’s passion for teaching and unwavering support for students led to her being named the 2023 recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The coveted award is presented to a tenured faculty member at each UNC System institution for excellent and exceptional undergraduate teaching over a sustained period.
“Dr. Haladay’s nomination from her colleagues for this prestigious honor speaks to the commitment she shows to her work, furthering the mission of our university, and most importantly, her commitment to her students and their success, which stretches beyond their graduation day,” remarked Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“It’s a real honor,” Haladay said. “I feel humbled and grateful. To have my teaching affirmed in such a significant way is very meaningful, and I appreciate it.”
Haladay began her career as a high school English teacher in California. She started introducing American Indian literature in her courses after reading “Ceremony,” a novel by Indigenous author Leslie Marmon Silko.
“That book changed my life, and it became clear that American Indian Studies was my passion,” she said.
A native of San Gabriel, Calif., she earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona.
She completed a Ph.D. in Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis, before joining the faculty at UNCP. She has taken pride in the relationships she has fostered with her students.
“What I value in teaching is having an exchange with students and not standing at the front of the classroom and teaching things I think they should know,” Haladay said. “I get excited with class discussions because I value the students’ perspectives and the knowledge they bring to the classroom.”
Haladay doesn’t believe that teaching and learning stop at the classroom door. She fosters community engagement through service-learning opportunities and for the past nine years, her students have read books by Indigenous authors to third graders at Union Elementary School.
“I feel it is important for my Native students and non-Native students who aren’t from here to make that connection with the Lumbee community,” she said. “I’m grateful for our relationship with the teachers at Union Elementary over the years.”
Her service also extends beyond local, state and even national borders through her contribution to the Indigenous International Exchange Consortium, which connects UNCP with Indigenous universities in Australia and Canada. She has helped host international students at UNCP and traveled with UNCP students abroad.
Dr. Scott Hicks, who joined the faculty the same year as Haladay, described his colleague as an innovative and committed instructor who champions her students, their immersion in Indigenous literature, and their well-being and growth.
“Dr. Haladay is an unflinching advocate for the students,” Hicks said. “She puts students first, refines and reinvigorates her pedagogy in response to students’ needs and desires, creates opportunities for students to enrich and extend their learning, and supports all learners.”