Heu was honored for his research, teaching, service achievements and other contributions to the department and to the development of a robust program to create working artists at Southeast Missouri State University, as well as his commitment to teaching and active exhibiting. He was selected for the award by after nominations were solicited from each of the University’s colleges.
“It was a huge surprise and I am still in total shock that I was selected,” Heu said. “There are so many incredible faculty at Southeast and to be recognized amongst them is a huge honor.”
The Provost Faculty Excellence Award honors distinguished faculty performance, evidenced by teaching, scholarly or creative activity and professional-related service.
“Dr. Heu’s passion for art and dedication to his students is inspiring,” says Provost Dr. Mike Godard. “He challenges and encourages the creativity and talents of his students, and that has led to tremendous success inside and outside of the classroom.”
Heu began teaching ceramics at Southeast in 2005. In that time, he has continued an impressive record in juried, invitational and solo exhibitions at national and international venues, and has participated in more than a dozen visiting artists workshops and residencies in the last five years. Heu’s art-related endeavors have been featured in various publicity outlets through interviews online and in print publications as well as on social media.
“I have observed his teaching and have seen the notable creative qualities of his student work that has been juried into the annual student exhibition in the department,” said Louise Bodenheimer, professor of art and design. “He is an articulate, knowledgeable faculty member who links theory with practice and contributes to community building in his studio classroom.”
Nancy Palmeri, chair of the Department of Art and Design, said Heu’s strength in teaching is rooted in “the collaborative essence of the ceramic community.” Such participation with students and peers demonstrates an interest in the democratic spirit of art, she said.
“Professor Hue demonstrates, to his students, a commitment to the connections between his teaching and creative practices,” Palmeri said. “He has special responsibility for students and is continually advocating for their access to resources and opportunities. His passion for art leaves an exact imprint on his students, and I often hear from them about his successful mentoring and willingness to collaborate with them.”
“Southeast students are the coolest!” Heu said. “There’s still a part of me that remembers being a young art major and feeling like the world is yours for the taking. Now that I’m older, I want to share my experiences with our students to make even better so that when they graduate they are equipped to succeed in the art world.”
Heu was praised by a number of colleagues for his leadership efforts in two recent student events, “Black Lives Matter,” an exhibition at Catapult Creative House, and “Celebrating Roy Thomas, Editor of Marvel Comics,” a multiple storefront display in downtown Jackson, Missouri, honoring Southeast alumnus and famed comic writer, Roy Thomas.
“The department’s participation in this event would not have happened if Benjie Heu did not step up to take the lead,” Dr. Michelle Brune, professor of interior design, said of the Roy Thomas event. “Not only did he step up to help showcase the Department of Art and Design, he cancelled a scheduled professional development activity that was taking place on the weekend of this event. He put the department’s needs ahead of his own, which is selfless and commendable.”
Heu has been a continuing instructor in Southeast’s Art Academy and Continuing Education from 2006 to 2019. He has been awarded a significant number of professionally-related grants since coming to Southeast, including two competitive GRFC Research Grants in 2019 and 2015, and the 2015 Kiln God Award at Watershed Center for Ceramic Art.
Heu is also a board member for “HERE,” a high school literary arts magazine and visiting writers and artists in schools program through Rust Media. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from Ohio University, a post-baccalaureate degree in ceramics from the University of Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Montevallo.