1987: Dr. Graham

1987: Dr. Theodora Rapp Graham Honored with First Campus Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr. Theodora Rapp Graham, professor of English and Humanities, won the first Capitol Campus Teaching Excellence Award in 1987. Given her innovative teaching style, it’s no wonder. Take her Western Traditions II course, for example. In that class, students planned and prepared a seven-course medieval feast and entertainment as part of their course work.

Dr. Graham may be best known for her advisement to the Capitol Campus literary journal. Prior to Dr. Graham’s arrival, students had created a literary journal called Pnarque in 1969 – 1970, but they did not have a literary journal the year after that. During Dr. Graham’s first year with the college, 1971, she helped students recreate a literary journal to “bridge the gap between creative expression and communication in the college community.”

This time students named the literary journal Tarnhelm, which according to the journal’s first editor-in-chief, is a winged, magic helmet from Wagnerian/Norse mythology that symbolizes the treasure of the imagination that can be passed from writer to reader. Even after Dr. Graham’s retirement in 1999, students continued to write for and edit the Tarnhelm. The tradition continues today, although students renamed the journal From the Fallout Shelter in 2008.

Dr. Graham used to write “Thanks for a good read” at the end of each of her students’ essays. She said that is what she’d miss most about teaching when she retired.

Fun fact: at least one of her colleagues used to anonymously leave boxes of “Teddy Grahams” on her desk as a joke.


  • B.A. English, Rutgers University
  • M.A. English, Columbia University
  • Ph.D. English, University of Pennsylvania

Prior Roles

  • English teacher in New Jersey high schools
  • English instructor at Moravian College
  • English instructor at University Park

Other Professional Accomplishments

  • Recipient of Capitol Campus award for teaching excellence in 1987
  • Faculty advisor for the campus literary journal from 1971-1999 – her first through last years at Capitol Campus
  • Founded and, for nine years, edited the William Carlos Williams Review, a journal with international circulation
  • University faculty senate member

After Retirement

  • Developed journal articles from papers on William Carlos Williams and his son, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens that she had presented at conferences
  • Work on The Wives of Poets, writings on the marriages of five American poets

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