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MILLS AWARD: Dr. Luke Gibbs honored with Young Faculty Award for Excellence

Published on Aug 12, 2020 by Paul K. Logsdon


Luke Gibbs Mills Award
The Mills Award was presented on August 12, 2020. // PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon


SPRINGFIELD, MO Dr. Luke Gibbs, associate professor of English at Evangel University, is the recipient of The Orville & Jewel Mills Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service for 2020.

The Mills Award, which includes an unrestricted cash grant, was established by Orville and Jewel Mills to recognize professors less than 45 years of age. Orville Mills is a retired comptroller of Exxon-Mobile and serves on the university board of trustees. The couple’s three daughters are graduates of Evangel.

This year, the Mills Award presentation was a featured portion of the annual faculty and staff back-to-school meeting, which was held on Wednesday, August 12.

Historically, the Mills Award is presented during Evangel’s commencement ceremony in May. However, the 62nd Annual Commencement was postponed this year until August 15 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently those plans were altered from in-person to a virtual video celebration.

Known for his servant’s heart, Gibbs said, “I’m honored and humbled to receive this commendation. I deeply appreciate the ministry of teaching that Evangel University has given me.”


Academic excellence

Since joining the Evangel University faculty in 2004, Professor Gibbs has been recognized by students and his peers as an outstanding and innovative teacher, a faculty leader, and a dedicated contributor to Evangel’s mission,” said Dr. Michael D. McCorcle, provost and executive vice president of EU, as he announced this honor to the campus.

Gibbs grew up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Brazil, Portugal, and Belgium. He first moved to Springfield to attend Evangel as a student, “and this has been my hometown ever since,” he said.

In 1998, he graduated with honors from Evangel having earned a double major and being named both the English Graduate of the Year and the Journalism Graduate of the Year.

One of his many highlights as a student was the opportunity to intern for the public relations department at Thomas Nelson Publishers, a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content, featuring authors such as Billy Graham, Max Lucado and Dave Ramsey.

In 2004, Gibbs graduated from Missouri State University with a master’s degree in English; and in 2013, he graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia with a Ph.D. in English Literature–British Romantics.

“Dr. Gibbs’ literary expertise allows him to teach an impressive spectrum of American, British, and world literature from ancient texts like The Odyssey to contemporary literature,” said LaDonna Friesen, assistant professor of English and a previous Mills Award winner herself.

“His exceptional intelligence and good sense of humor appeal to English majors as well as students who take required literature and writing classes as part of Evangel’s Core curriculum. It is no wonder that his classes quickly fill,” she said.

On and off campus, Gibbs has a focus on others.

As a member of the Faculty Affairs Committee, he spearheaded a process of regular recognition for staff departments on campus. “Each month, we send a thank you to a different department from the faculty, acknowledging the vital partnership we have with the staff at Evangel,” he said.

In addition, he is a team teacher of a young married Sunday School class at Central Assembly.

Luke is married to Melanie Gibbs, a hairstylist at Luxe Salon on Battlefield. Together they have three children, Elizabeth, 9; and twins Cordelia and Rosalind, 5.

Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel serves more than 2,300 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.


PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon


ALSO AWARDED:  Dr. Nathan Nelson received The E.M. & Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.