Dr. Mary “Mimi” Fenton joined Western Carolina University’s faculty in 1992. She received her B.A and M.A, in English from the University of Wyoming, and her Ph.D (English) from the University of Kentucky. Since coming to Western, she has been an assistant professor of English (1992-98), associate professor of English (1998-2007), and is currently a full professor of English. In addition, Dr. Fenton has also been an Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences (1997-99) and the Director of Graduate Studies in English (1995-97).
Aside from Western, Dr. Fenton has taught at Purdue University, the University of Kentucky, Frances Marion University, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Wyoming.
Dr. Fenton has received many awards for her contributions to Western Carolina University. Some of these awards include an The UNC Board of Governors’ Outstanding Teaching Award (2006), The WCU University Scholar Award (2005-2006), The Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2002-2003). She was recognized as a “Most Influential Teacher” by a Teaching Fellow in 2003, 2002 and 2005.
On a normal basis, Dr. Fenton keeps herself busy. When she is not teaching, she is preparing for class and presentations, editing manuscripts, reading, and writing. She is a committed learner and is always seeking new information and new ways to present material and ideas.
She published her first book in 2006, a work on the 17th century English poet John Milton which was nominated for the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford Award for the Best Monograph of 2006 and she is currently working on a second. She also edited a collection of essays on Milton which will be coming out next year, and she serves as the Vice-President for the Milton Society of America.
Dr. Fenton has many hobbies. For the past year and a half, she has been renovating an old barn, transforming it into a house she helped design. She attends art gallery classes and enjoys drawing. Dr. Fenton, a devoted mother, loves to hang out with her two daughters, Ellie (19) and Gracie (14), and she spends as much time as possible with them, especially when her oldest daughter, Ellie, comes home from college.
Instilled inside of her at the early age of fifteen, Dr. Fenton loves to travel. As a foreign exchange student, she lived in South Africa for a year and has been traveling ever since then. When she graduated high school, she chose the University of Wyoming because it seemed to be the most exotic place to her.
Now, every year, as part of her Liberal Studies Renaissance class, she travels to Europe with a group of students so the literature and history can come to life for them. In May, she is going to Budapest where she was invited by Karoli Gaspar University to teach Milton for three weeks. Next spring, she will be traveling to the Netherlands where she will teach a course on transatlantic literature for another three weeks.
Dr. Fenton is proud to be a part of Western and is very dedicated to her students. She genuinely cares for her students and loves making a difference in their lives. She could not possibly think of doing anything else. Teaching literature and all it has to offer is her dream job, and as she said herself, “I have a great life.”
Western Carolina University is very lucky to have such an outstanding professor. She certainly contributes a lot to the university, but above all she enriches the lives of so many.