SPRINGFIELD, MO — The students and faculty at Evangel University have honored LaDonna Friesen, assistant professor of English, for her outstanding accomplishments as a younger member of the EU faculty.
The Orville & Jewel Mills Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service was presented to her on May 1, 2015, during Evangel University’s 57th Annual Commencement Ceremony.
“Professor Friesen is highly regarded for her passionate expertise in children’s and young-adult literature, as well as for her inspiring instruction in Creative Writing,” said Dr. Carol Taylor, president.
“She is an outstanding example of the high-quality students who come through Evangel, and then go on to influential professional positions.”
Orville and Jewel Mills established the Mills Award in 2006 to recognize outstanding professors who are less than 45 years of age. It includes an unrestricted cash grant.
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.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Mills Award from Evangel, a university that carefully nurtures students as they prepare for vocation and service,” said Friesen, a 1998 EU graduate.
Born in Texas and raised in Chicago, LaDonna (then Branscom) moved to Springfield in 1994 to pursue her passion for writing at Evangel. By that time, she had already been published in the Longmeadow Journal of Young Writers.
“My education at Evangel University helped shape my identity and strengthened my Christian worldview by naturally integrating faith with learning,” she said.
Friesen graduated from Evangel in 1998 with a B.A. in English and a minor in music. In 2001, she completed her M.A. in English at Missouri State University.
Over the next decade, she taught English at MSU, Evangel and Central Bible College, before joining the Evangel faculty full time in 2011.
Speaking of her passion for teaching, Friesen said, “Supporting students who are becoming effective writers, thinkers and servants in our community and the world is a beautiful way to live.”
Friesen models that servant attitude for her students.
In addition to her class load, she was selected by her colleagues to serve on the Faculty Affairs Committee at Evangel, and outside the university, she serves on the Board of Elders at Evangel Temple in Springfield.