The T.A. Abbott Award for Faculty Excellence was established and funded by the Abbott family in honor of the Rev. T.A. Abbott, who was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1879. He attended Christian University, now Culver-Stockton College, which he later served as a trustee for 20 years. Throughout the 1880’s and early 1890’s, Abbott pastored local congregations in Missouri from 1886-1910, and was corresponding secretary of the Missouri Christian Missionary Society. He died in 1914.
The award honoring the Rev. T.A. Abbott is presented to: (1) A professor who by the strength of his or her teaching and personal example, inspires the student toward excellence; and whose underlying educational philosophy, irrespective of academic discipline, is wholeness of person; (2) A professor who continues to grow and learn in his or her academic discipline; and (3) A professor who manifests a personal faith.
The Board of Directors of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Indianapolis, IN, April 21-23, 2023, by unanimous consent presents the distinguished 2023 T.A. Abbott Award for Faculty Excellence to Dr. Sarah Riskind, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Chorale at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois.
According to Dr. Ann Fulop, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Eureka College, Dr. Riskind “exemplifies the spirit of the award. Dr. Riskind’s goals for her students includes programming repertoire in a variety of styles with significant representation of women, Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) composers, teaching students to read music, teaching students to use their voices more effectively, and fostering warm close-knit community.” Dr. Fulop continues: “Dr. Riskind’s curation of the repertoire also inspires students because they see themselves represented in the composers . . . Dr. Riskind teaches students to recognize, accept, and celebrate the diversity amongst humanity . . . She specializes in Judeo-Spanish and Sephardic music. She has recently discovered a prolific 16th century convent composer, Raphael Aleotti.”
Students of Dr. Riskind “have performed music written by women, Black American composers, Robert A. Harris and Adolphus Hailstork, and Latin American music from the colonial period to the 20th century. She has also included Irish and French-Canadian fiddle music in concerts.”
One statement stands out among all others: “As she shares her faith with students, she is opening the door for them to explore and share their own faiths and spiritual lives through their music.”
The entire Disciples academic community extends its congratulations to Dr. Sarah Riskind by honoring her with the T.A. Abbott Award for Faculty Excellence. The award comes with a stipend of $1,000 and an engraved plaque to be presented during a public ceremony at Eureka College at a time yet to be determined.