Joan Hermsen strives to help students develop an understanding of how their lives affect social structures. Through courses such as “Social Inequalities” and her commitment to programs that advocate social justice, she “profoundly changes the lives of her students for the better.”
As a Freshman Interest Group faculty facilitator and the academic adviser for sociology majors, she mentors students and encourages them to be “lifelong learners.” One student said, “Her honesty and insight are astounding,” and colleagues call her approach to teaching “an exemplary model, distinguished” and “effective.”
Hermsen has served as a member and chair of the Campus Writing Board and teaches writing-intensive and graduate courses that push students to develop critical thinking skills. In addition, she engages students in research on social inequalities in the community by involving them in studies at the Mid-Missouri Food Pantry and Habitat for Humanity.
Hermsen earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Briar Cliff College in 1988 and a master’s of arts in sociology and doctorate in sociology from the University of Maryland in 1992 and 1997. Her awards include a Purple Chalk Teaching Award and a Summer Pre-Graduate Distinguished Mentor Award.