After more than five decades as a professor of English at Morehead State, Dr. Frances Helphinstine (63), commonly known as Fran or “Dr. H,” is retiring. She has influenced countless students through her years of service. This fixture of the institution is being given one of the institution’s highest honors as the recipient of the 2018 Founders Award for University Service.
Helphinstine came to Morehead State as a student in 1959. After graduating, she became an instructor and faculty member with the Department of English, where she has served for the past 52 years. She went on to earn a Ph.D. with specializations in Renaissance and dramatic literature from Indiana University Bloomington in 1978.
She has taught undergraduate courses in Shakespeare, the English Renaissance, 17th century British literature and drama, as well as graduate-level courses in Shakespeare, drama and bibliography and served as the graduate program coordinator.
When not in the classroom, she can be found researching women of Jacobean court culture, performance theory, classical literature influences in writing of Shakespeare and major features/trends in contemporary prize-winning drama. She has received National Humanities Council grants for continued studies with other scholars.
Since 1979, Helphinstine served as scholarship advisor for Epsilon Theta Chapter of Chi Omega, encouraging academic achievement through pep talks, individual conferences and personal letters. Her former students often recall her positive energy, high expectations and desire to help students succeed. She put time and energy into students, and those interactions have helped her serve effectively through the years.
“My students energize me by sharing their interests and insights concerning the topics they generate from our class readings,” Helphinstine said. “Their sharing stimulates my further exploration, which gives me the continuous joys that come from lifelong learning.”