UM Russian Professor Receives Prestigious Teaching Award

February 17, 2017

Ona Renner-Fahey, an associate professor of Russian at UM, teaches a class.MISSOULA – Ona Renner-Fahey, an associate professor of Russian in the University of Montana’s Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department, recently received the 2016 AATSEEL Excellence in Teaching (Post-Secondary) Award.

“MCLL is thrilled that Dr. Renner-Fahey is the recipient of such a prestigious national award,” said Elizabeth Ametsbichler, who chairs the department. “Such recognition of her excellence in teaching is extremely well-deserved.”

Known for her energy, passion and professionalism, Renner-Fahey teaches across all levels and curriculum of the Russian program and engages her first-year Russian students with the same dedication and attentiveness as those studying in her more advanced courses in Russian poetry.

Additionally, she has led multiple groups of UM students on international experiences to Moscow and St. Petersburg, and established and maintained a partnership between UM and the School of Russian and Asian Studies, which sends 15 to 20 students per year from colleges and universities all over the country to study Russian in Kyrgyzstan.

“Our language programs typically excel in their approach to teaching and supporting students,” said UM College of Humanities and Sciences Dean Christopher Comer, “so it is wonderful to see our Russian program, and Dr. Renner-Fahey in particular, get the recognition that they deserve.”

Since Renner-Fahey arrived at UM, the Russian program has defied national trends, producing five Fulbright Scholars, a Boren Scholarship winner and multiple Critical Language Scholarship recipients. It also has seen its graduates accepted to top-tier graduate programs in Slavic, history, international relations, political science and medicine.

The Excellence in Teaching (Post-Secondary) Award is presented by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, an organization that exists to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures and cultures on all education levels. Renner-Fahey was honored for her award at the president’s reception during the AATSEEL national convention in San Francisco earlier this month.


Contact: Ian Withrow, media and information coordinator, UM College of Humanities and Sciences/Humanities Institute, 406-243-2683,