The Office of the Provost has announced that Mary Jo Zembar, professor of psychology, is now the new Paul Luther Keil Chair in Psychology, a position endowed by the late Rev. Paul Keil in loving memory of his parents, Luther F. Keil and Mary Ruth Slater Keil.
“I am so honored to be selected by my colleagues to be the recipient of this prestigious position,” Zembar said.
Endowed chairs are permanently funded positions typically established through gifts from donors to support excellence in teaching and scholarship.
In a letter to the Provost, members of Wittenberg’s Department of Psychology enthusiastically recommended Zembar, who is currently in her 30th year at Wittenberg. She was nominated by her colleagues and approved by the Wittenberg Board of Directors during its May meeting.
“Dr. Zembar is one of Wittenberg’s most beloved and distinguished teachers,” the letter stated. “She has won several teaching awards in her career at Wittenberg, including the Omicron Delta Kappa Award for Teaching Excellence for New Faculty; the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education recognized her for her significant contribution and commitment to teaching and learning; and she was a finalist for the Ohio Professor of the Year in 2013.”
Zembar teaches the laboratory-based introductory course in psychology, as well as courses in child development, adolescent development, and lifespan development.
“Student reviews of Dr. Zembar’s courses consistently express an appreciation for the enthusiasm she brings to her classes as well as the sense that she cares about students individually and their academic success,” the letter continued.
In her career, Zembar has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on the development of memory strategies in children, how teachers influence the use of memory strategies in the classroom, and how depression in adults affects memory functioning. She has co-authored two textbooks on development in middle childhood and adolescence with Pearson Education. In addition, she has more than 40 conference presentations and/or invited addresses, many with students as co-authors, which reflects the collaborative research model the department and University espouse. Recently, she has engaged in more applied research, with outcomes valuable to community partners such as the Community Health Foundation, the Women’s Partnership Funds, and Nightingale Montessori.
“I will use my position as Keil Chair to continue to involve students in research that supports local initiatives that optimize development in children and youth,” Zembar said.
Zembar also serves the Springfield community in many ways. Of note, she has been a member of the Board of Directors at Oesterlen Services for Youth in Springfield for more than 20 years, and currently is on its Executive Committee where she is chairing the search for the agency’s new executive director.
Zembar received her B.A. from the University of Akron and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She joined the faculty in 1990 and served as the University's interim provost from 2014-2019.