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Professors honored for excellence

With a new academic year upon us, Valdosta State University recognized four of its faculty members along with a staff member at the 2010 fall convocation on Aug. 9 for excellent work on campus.
The Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards honors employees in areas of advising, professional activity, service, and teaching.
Dr. Byron Brown (Department of English) received the Excellence in Advising Award, Dr. William Loughry (Department of Biology) was awarded Excellence in Professional Activity, Mr. Duke Guthrie (Department of Communication Arts) received Excellence in Service, and Dr. Lai Orenduff (Art Department) was awarded with Excellence in Teaching. The university also recognized Sharon Butcher, manager of Campus Mail Services, with the Excellence in Service for Classified Staff Award.
Dr. Loughry, who was recognized for his professional activity that includes the research of armadillos, said he is driven by personal interest and curiosity, not the need to fulfill any external pressures or expectations.
“It amuses me… as far as the things we did with the armadillos, it was just mostly whatever interested us,” Dr. Loughry said, “We didn’t really worry about whether anybody else would find it interesting, it was just because we were interested.”
He often works alongside his wife, Dr. Colleen McDonough.
Dr. Loughry said they weren’t the only ones interested in the armadillos.
“It’s not only interesting to us, but other people seem to find it—some of it, not all of it—interesting too, so it’s nice,” he said.
When he received notice of the award, Dr. Loughry expressed gratitude and said it was nice for someone to acknowledge the work he was doing.
Dr. Loughry was definitely not the only one thankful to receive an award at convocation.
Dr. Lai Orenduff, awarded for her excellence in teaching of art, said she is grateful for her students and they motivate her by asking questions and keeping her on her toes.
“I love my students,” said Dr. Orenduff, “They help me—they reassure me all the time and when I finish a semester, I just want to thank them, because I’ve grown just as much as I hope they’ve grown. It’s a mutual thing.”
While she was in college, Dr. Orenduff said she was inspired by an art historian/writer named Robert Hughes. After hearing him talk, she then decided that she wanted to study art.
She said she is also very happy to be here, adding that her art department is very tight-knit and that she appreciates their support.
Dr. Sharon Gravett, assistant vice-president of Academic Affairs, said it’s extremely difficult for the committee to choose a recipient for each award, but also wonderful at the same time, because everyone gets to read about their colleague’s accomplishments.
Among the requirements to be eligible for an award, a faculty member must work full-time for both semesters of the academic year and have completed at least three years of full-time teaching at VSU. There is also a set of criteria that must be met depending on the area of excellence.
Dr. Gravett said nominees from each department and division are encouraged every academic year.

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