Professor of English Linda Bannister is the winner of Loyola Marymount University’s 2017 Rains Award for Excellence in Service. The award is the university’s highest honor for service to the university community.
Since joining the English faculty in 1983, Bannister has become a trusted mentor, colleague, and leader. During her 11-year tenure as chair of the English department, she helped develop the Syntext program, a new English major synthesizing creative and critical pursuits. After stepping down as chair, she went on to develop and launch two successful programs that offer students meaningful pre-professional experience: the journalism minor and the English secondary teacher credentialing program.
Bannister founded the journalism program in 2002 and directed it for 14 years. In that time, the program grew from a modest “pre-journalism curriculum” into one of the university’s most popular minors, attracting students from every college and school at LMU.
“It’s the ultimate interdisciplinary field,” Bannister said. “You can pair journalism with any kind of subject matter expertise: culture, politics, film, science, you name it.”
The minor has been so popular that plans are moving forward to create a journalism major as early as Fall 2018.
The journalism and teaching programs may be the most visible of Bannister’s accomplishments, but she is also known around the department and beyond for her quiet leadership as a mentor. Department colleagues estimate that she has mentored and advised 5,000 English and journalism students over the course of her career. She is known as a professor whose door is always open, for junior faculty and for students choosing courses, looking for internships, and considering graduate school or careers.
Bannister is also an award-winning playwright whose work centers on social justice, race, and civil rights themes. Her most recent play, “One Sunday in Mississippi,” co-written with her longtime writing partner, James E. Hurd, Jr., will be published by Marymount Institute’s Harriet Tubman Press later this year.
“I came to LMU as a Rhetorician, and now I’m a journalism teacher and a playwright,” she reflected. “That’s the liberal arts for you: you can stretch, and evolve, and change here.”
One common thread among her diverse roles and work is a deep commitment to the common good on and off the bluff. And as the journalism program grows, Bannister is excited to see journalism students use their skills to advance the common good in the world, too.
“Few faculty members can claim the range and the depth of service to department, College, and University that Linda Bannister has rendered to her students and her colleagues,” said Robbin D. Crabtree, dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “That she has done so while continuing to be a stellar teacher and a successful scholar and creative writer is all the more noteworthy.”