Skip navigation

You are here

McPhee and Lackey Earn Horace T. Morse Awards

Composite image of two men smiling into lens.
Allison Friedly
Publication date: 
April 26, 2021

Professor of Computer Science Nic McPhee and Professor of English Michael Lackey have both earned Horace T. Morse awards, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. The award honors excellence in undergraduate education across the University of Minnesota.

“The nomination dossiers for both Nic and Michael provide amazing evidence of how fortunate we are to have them here at UMN Morris,” writes Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean Janet Schrunk Ericksen. 

Lackey’s nomination celebrates his “exemplary record of pedagogical successes, a record that challenges us to reimagine what undergraduates can accomplish with our help.” 

“The idea that it is the educator’s responsibility to inspire students to value and redefine thinking is the cornerstone of my teaching,” writes Lackey. The scholar of biofiction—literature where the protagonist is named after a real-life person, and the author fictionalizes that historical figure—has shared his love of the genre with his students and includes them in his research.  

McPhee’s nomination demonstrates how he “empowers students to develop their persistence, confidence, and expertise.” He sees his award as a tribute to the entire UMN Morris community. “Their commitment to high-quality undergraduate education is a wonderful thing, and working with great students, and remarkable faculty and staff colleagues both supports and motivates the work that I do,” says McPhee. 


McPhee holds a PhD and MS from the University of Texas and a BA from Reed College. His expertise includes his groundbreaking research into genetic programming, software design and development, and artificial intelligence. He has an international reputation as one of the pioneers of evolutionary computation and has made several milestone contributions that provided solid theoretical foundations for genetic programming.

McPhee was awarded the University of Minnesota Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award in 2013 for his influential style of teaching and mentoring students and for playing a vital role in shaping the UMN Morris computer science program. He earned the Faculty Distinguished Research Award in 2021, recognizing his sustained and impactful contributions to research in Computer Science.


Lackey holds a PhD from the University of Kentucky. He is a scholar of 20th and 21st century intellectual, political, and literary history. He has received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, Northwestern University's Holocaust Education Foundation, the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has authored and edited ten books, and his current focus is on biofiction.



Each year since 1965, the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (Morse-Alumni Award) has been given to a select group of teachers who reflect the University's emphasis on the importance of high quality undergraduate education. Learn more at