Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The moment the 2016 recipient of the Mercyhurst University Teaching Excellence Award found out she was selected is one that Amy Weaver-Kaulis, assistant professor and chair of the fashion merchandising department, will always remember.
What she calls a “surreal” moment came during her 11th year of teaching in the middle of her spring Merchandise Planning and Control class. She remembers turning the same shade as the iconic Christian Louboutin sole when Mercyhurst Provost David Dausey politely interrupted to make the announcement.
“I still have no idea who nominated me for the award, but it was extremely kind of him or her to take the time to do so,” she said. “I was just so completely shocked. It really took a few days for it to truly sink in.”
Calling Weaver-Kaulis an overachiever does not do her justice. She goes above and beyond her role as professor daily, and she always does it with the cheeriest of dispositions and the biggest of grins.
Under her leadership, the department has seen one of the highest recruitment periods among Mercyhurst’s academic progams. She makes it a goal to meet with each prospective student and their family. She recently facilitated a dual-degree program agreement with the American Business School of Paris, allowing current fashion merchandising majors to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Mercyhurst as well as a bachelor’s degree in fashion luxury and retail management while abroad.
“Professor Weaver-Kaulis is a true exemplar of teaching excellence. She represents the type of engaged, caring and thoughtful professors that are the hallmark of a Mercyhurst education,” said Dausey, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her approach to student engagement and hands-on learning has earned her the respect and admiration of her students and her peers. We are very proud to count her among our faculty.”
In 2000, she graduated from the same Mercyhurst program she now leads. While she spent five years away earning her master’s degree in industrial-technical merchandising and fabric analysis and specializing in higher education at the University of North Texas, her intentions were always to stay in the classroom. She returned to Mercyhurst in 2005 and has called Mercyhurst home ever since.
“I had made the choice to pursue fashion from an academic perspective very early on,” said Weaver-Kaulis. “During my second year of undergraduate studies, all fashion merchandising students were required to write a statement of short- and long-term goals as part of the department’s Sophomore Review process. So at the ripe age of 18, I said that after graduation I wanted to go on to graduate school in the hope of someday teaching fashion. I actually have a copy of that original goal statement framed in my office.”
Weaver-Kaulis has elevated the nationwide visibility of the fashion merchandising program at Mercyhurst. The program is currently ranked among the top 20 fashion merchandising programs in the country.
When she isn’t occupied engaging prospective students, eating lunch with visiting students and their families, leading student trips to fashion capitals, mentoring current students and populating department social media pages, Weaver-Kaulis is teaching full-time in the department’s famous Loft on the third floor of Old Main. She teaches several courses, including: Introduction to the Fashion Industry, Personal Styling Analysis, Product Line Development, Merchandise Planning and Control, and Professional Development for the Fashion Industry.
“I absolutely love everything about teaching at Mercyhurst. My favorite aspect of my career choice has everything to do with my students,” she said. “I love having the opportunity to step into the classroom each day and explaining to them how each of the integral parts of the fashion industry at some point intercept with virtually every other discipline on campus.”