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Dr. Brandon Schmidly honored with young faculty award

June 12, 2013 | Paul K. Logsdon

“It was Leanne who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to pursue my degree so that I could teach,” said Brandon Schmidly, upon receiving Evangel University’s top academic award for young professors.

Schmidly, assistant professor of philosophy, was honored last month with the Orville & Jewel Mills Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award is for faculty members under age 45.

In 1993, Brandon was a star football player at Mt. Vernon High School with dreams of greatness on the gridiron. He had offers from much larger universities, but there was something about Evangel’s integration of faith, learning and life that drew him in.

“Honestly, I was more interested in my scores on the scoreboard, than I was my scores on my transcript,” he admits. “But deep down, I knew I needed to be in a place where I could grow in my faith.”

He also wanted to stay close to Leanne Meeks, a Kickapoo High School girl that he met the summer before their senior year, while on a youth missions trip to Venezuela.

“There was a wow moment the first time I saw her,” he recalled. And on the flight home, she slipped him a note with her address and phone number, confirming the attraction was mutual.

“I still carry that note in my wallet to this day,” he said.

Brandon and Leanne enrolled at Evangel in 1994. He excelled at football, and she was a top accounting student. They married in 1996, graduated in 1998, and served at a church in his hometown for several years.

A passion for teaching led him to earn a Ph.D. in ethics and philosophy from the University of Missouri, while Leanne built a successful career in accounting. Somehow, they also found time to have three children.

In 2007, “Brandon’s dream job at Evangel became his first job, right out of grad school,” said Leanne with pride.

“And now,” said the young philosopher, “this recognition is an affirmation — I feel that I am doing what I was made to do.”