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Byler Faculty Award Honors Professor Boney’s Impact on Students Engaged in Modern Languages Program

By Jeff Murphy, April 18, 2024


WARRENSBURG, MO – Described by professional colleagues as an energetic champion for students and a talented, dedicated and enthusiastic educator, Kristy Boney, Ph.D., is being honored as the 2024 recipient of the University of Central Missouri’s Byler Distinguished Faculty Award. 

The Byler Award is considered the highest university recognition for faculty members and is presented each spring in honor of its namesake, William H. Byler, an inventor, author and teacher who graduated from UCM in 1927 with a major in chemistry and physics. He established an endowment fund to provide annual recognition for distinguished faculty performance, evidenced by teaching, scholarly or creative activity and professional-related service.

Boney, a professor of German and chair of Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Studies, will be recognized for her achievement when the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs hosts a ceremony honoring her and other Byler Award nominees at 3:30 p.m. April 22 in Elliott Student Union 236. In addition to this event, Boney’s achievement will be publicly celebrated during the Board of Governors’ plenary session April 25 at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit, and during spring 2024 Commencement exercises Friday and Saturday, May 3-4 at the Jerry M. Hughes  Athletic Center (formerly Multipurpose Building).

After serving as the Director of Undergraduate German at the University of Kentucky, Boney joined the UCM faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor of German, and was promoted to associate professor in 2014, and professor in 2020. Although she came to the university when the German major was in abeyance, she demonstrated a constant commitment to expanding German language and cultural activities through her work both inside and outside of the classroom. She taught and developed all German language, literature and culture courses in the university curriculum, and because of her dedication, student demand for such academic opportunities increased. According to individuals who supported Boney’s nomination, within her first three years at UCM, the option for a German major within Modern Languages returned, and she was not only able to produce students who graduate as German majors, but the minor program in Modern Languages became one of the most popular minors at the university as a whole.

In her role as department chair for the Modern Languages program, Boney also provides leadership for Africana Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. In this capacity, her colleagues believe she has fostered a “collegial, productive environment.”

“After 27 years as a faculty member at UCM, I have worked with numerous chairs and coordinators. Dr. Boney’s leadership style and approach is among  the best; faculty feel that she wants them to succeed and most importantly she is an enthusiastic advocate for everyone in the programs,”  Professor of Spanish Julie Stephens de Jonge, Ph.D., noted in her letter of support for Boney. 

She added that Boney exhibits a strong balance between her duties as chair while also anticipating challenges and opportunities. She “clears the way for everyone to have a sense of autonomy and purpose in the departmental community. Moreover, she takes initiative to complete administrative tasks that others may avoid and is always open to creative solutions for recruiting, retaining, and engaging students. Simply put, she sees the forest for the trees but seamlessly handles the details that affect all our programs.” 

In the classroom, Boney has a tremendous breadth of teaching skills, whether it is teaching language learning or advanced cultural and historical courses. While teaching German language to students, she has the ability to seamlessly integrate subject matter that helps provide linguistic and cultural context, whether it is helping students to know more about topics such as the Holocaust or the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has served as faculty for the Gender and Sexuality studies program, and she spent a year as a faculty fellow in UCM’s Honors Program, where she taught two courses, Holocaust Representation in Germany and America and Modernism in Comics.

Boney has collaborated on various German studies projects with faculty members. This includes participating in events and guest lectures in other classrooms on campus, and being involved in team-teaching opportunities to help students learn more about the history and culture of Germany. She has helped grow the Modern Languages’ study abroad program. She has led multiple study tours over the years, including a “Divided Cities” tour to Jerusalem and Berlin, a Holocaust-focused tour to Poland and Germany, and a historical connection tour to Vienna and Prague.
In commenting on the Byler Award, Boney stated,“Teaching is very important to me, but it is often the intangible successes or the shared fist-bumps that I can’t put on a CV that make my job most rewarding. I don’t know where else I’d be if not in a classroom. When I can encourage students to apply to the Global Learning program or a Fulbright scholarship, then I am incredibly excited for them. When they share pictures of their trips or send me a postcard – or when one of them becomes a McNair’s Scholar – these are the intangible moments of success that allow me to share in their further development as intellectual citizens of the world.”

She said one of her “biggest passions” in recent years is getting students to travel abroad. Boney added, “Many of the students who go on these study tours have never left the U.S. or even Missouri. Seeing their engagement with new aspects of the world expand is truly gratifying. “

In addition to her work with UCM students and faculty members, Boney stays current in her field by presenting papers at national conferences and moderating panels for groups such as the international German Studies Association. She has co-edited a book and contributed a chapter in the field of  German Studies. She is a consultant for the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and spends time in the summer reading, grading, and assigning scores for German AP high school exams. This past year, she served on the AATG National German Exam and helped write exams for all levels of German that enables schools to rate high school proficiency. 

Boney has served as chair of Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Studies at UCM since 2022, and became coordinator of Modern Languages in 2014.
Her preparation for a career in higher education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and German from Georgia Southern University, and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in German Literature from The Ohio State University.   



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