Emma Jean Walker

Emma Jean Walker

In recognition of the life and legacy of Dr. Emma Jean Walker, a legendary professor of English at Missouri S&T, alumna and University Trustee Cindy Tang (Economics’85, Professional Economics’07, Honorary DEng’98) has generously chosen to establish a scholarship endowment honoring the memory of this influential mentor.

Dr. Jean Walker joined the Rolla faculty in 1966 as an assistant professor of English and dedicated two decades to teaching, scholarship, service, and mentoring countless students, not only in the literature of Twain and Steinbeck, and the rigors of expository writing, but also in the power of following your dreams.

Dr. Walker grew up in the Missouri Ozarks near Mountain View and earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Southwest Missouri State in 1948. After teaching high school English in Cabool and serving as Director of Adult Education for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in Kansas City, Dr. Walker returned to academia. She earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Florida in 1958, followed by a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas in 1966. Her dissertation focused on the myth of the American cowboy.

At Rolla, across two decades in the classroom, Dr. Walker taught a wide range of courses in American literature, folklore, expository writing, research writing and education. She also pursued her research on American, Ozarks and railroad folklore, published scholarly articles, presented academic papers, and served on the board of Missouri Folklore Society.

One of her greatest contributions at Missouri S&T was her leadership on behalf of teacher education, which was a cooperative program with the University of Missouri-Columbia at the time. Dr. Walker touched thousands of lives as a teacher dedicated to educating teachers.

A longtime member of the Missouri Association of Teachers of English, Dr. Walker held many leadership positions including president, as well as representing the association on the Council of Missouri Organizations for Teacher Education. She also directed the annual English conference for area teachers.

Dr. Walker became the university’s first female faculty member to be granted emeritus status when she retired in 1986. (She was the second woman with a doctorate to hold a tenure-track position at the university.) Dr. Walker died on January 6, 2007. She was honored during Missouri S&T’s Woman of the Year Awards Luncheon on April 18, 2007.

Now, through the generosity of Cindy Tang in providing a permanent source of funding for the Jean Walker Memorial Endowed Scholarship for English, talented students for generations to come will have the opportunity to excel in the study of English as Jean Walker Scholars.