McKendree Nursing Professor is UMC Exemplary Teacher of the Year

Psychology and Special Education Associate Faculty Members Honored

(LEBANON, Ill., April 6, 2020) — McKendree University has presented awards to three faculty members for their outstanding teaching, commitment and service.

Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe, professor and chairperson of the Division of Nursing, received the 2020 United Methodist Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award, given by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Selection criteria include excellence in teaching, civility and concern for students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education, and service to students, the institution and the community.

Rennegarbe, of Nashville, Ill., earned her undergraduate degree from McKendree in 1992. She began teaching at her alma mater in 1996, then left for a few years to serve as the chief nursing officer and chief executive officer of Salem Township Hospital in Salem, Ill. In 2009 she returned to the university to chair the Division of Nursing.

McKendree nursing students know her as a kind, thoughtful and outstanding professor and mentor who prepares them for leadership positions. “She is well-respected in the broader community for her professionalism and ‘can-do’ attitude, establishing new partnerships with hospitals and maintaining healthy relationships with others,” said Dr. Christine Bahr, McKendree University provost. Highly respected for her work in teaching nurses and as a former rural hospital leader, she received the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network’s Service Award in 2013 for her role in the development and enhancement of rural nursing.

As the Nursing Division chairperson, Rennegarbe has been responsible for recruiting and maintaining a substantial number of undergraduate and graduate students. The McKendree nursing program’s large enrollment can be attributed in part to moving all face-to-face nursing classes online—a transformation she initiated. The university’s nationally recognized bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs led Rennegarbe to establish a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Ethical Leadership degree program, which is flourishing under her direction.

Associate Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching honor the commitment, academic excellence, outstanding teaching and engagement of two part-time instructors.

Dr. Renee Krebel, of Waterloo, Ill., graduated magna cum laude from McKendree in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After earning a master’s degree, she began counseling at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., helping countless military service members and their families.

Since 2014, she has been essential to the success of McKendree’s online psychology program, using technology effectively to teach the same content as in the traditional classroom courses. McKendree’s psychology and biopsychology programs now have more than 200 students, many of whom take an online class. Krebel provides her online students with a caring, personalized experience and an understanding of their needs.

She developed a military psychology course using her counseling education and experiences as a counselor on base. She regularly teaches research methods, cross-cultural psychology, abnormal psychology, clinical and counseling psychology, psychological statistics, and senior thesis. She has taught courses every semester including summers, collaborating with the full-time faculty to create the best possible experience for students, and providing informal advising.

Krebel consistently earns high course evaluations from her students, who remark on her integrity, kindness and commitment. Students also say she is knowledgeable, accessible, helpful, encouraging, supportive, and “goes the extra mile” for them. She pushes students to do their best and gives frequent and thought-provoking feedback that allows for their growth.

Dr. Jeannine Butler, of St. Jacob, Ill., has taught McKendree education students since 2006, primarily teaching several courses in the special education instruction master’s degree program. She has taught several classes both face-to-face and online; developed the Strategies and Interventions to Assist Struggling Readers course; and co-developed Adapting the Curriculum for Students with Special Needs, with Dr. Karee Nasser. She also supervises teacher candidates in the field during the summer.

Butler’s dedication to teaching and her commitment to student success has been evident. In their evaluations, students have noted she is well prepared for class, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about the subject matter. They also remarked on her meaningful project assignments, and the ability to bring her valuable experiences as a special educator into the university classroom.

As a full-time teacher for the Triad Consolidated Community School District, she established a Learning Café at her school to provide tutoring to middle school students who are struggling in math, reading or writing. She has recruited McKendree University students to work as volunteers in the Learning Café, which benefits both the middle school students and the McKendree student volunteers.

At the state level, Butler was selected recently as one of 30 finalists for the 2020 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in Illinois.


Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe

Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe, professor of nursing and Nursing Division chairperson, is McKendree University’s 2020 United Methodist Exemplary Teacher of the Year.


Dr. Renee Krebel

Dr. Renee Krebel received an Associate Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. She teaches psychology classes online to McKendree University undergraduates.


Dr. Jeannine Butler

Dr. Jeannine Butler received an Associate Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, for her work with graduate students in the special education instruction program at McKendree University.