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Faculty honored for excellence

It doesn’t get much better than this—at least for the two faculty members recently recognized with VSU’s highest awards of achievement.

VSU recognized Gardner Rogers, lecturer of English, and Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer, Associate Professor of Biology, with Awards of Excellence at the 2012 Fall Convocation held on Aug. 6.

Both recipients were recommended by a faculty committee representing all the colleges and divisions at VSU.

They were then chosen from a field of candidates who had already received top honors in their respective colleges and divisions.

Rogers was presented with the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award.

 “I can think of lots of people who are equally or more deserving of that [award],” Rogers says.

Rogers has taught at VSU for five years, teaching English 1101, 1102 and World Literature.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about it from the students’ side,” he says. “I ask for a lot of work, but I try to give the tools you need. That and I really like students. I just really enjoy being in the classroom with them.”

Rogers grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, before going away at 13 to St. Andrew’s School, where the movie “Dead Poets Society” was filmed.

“Part of it was filmed from my senior year dorm room,” Rogers says.

“I hated the school. The reason it was a problem for me, was it was 180 boys locked up in this tiny community for 3 months at a time, but it gave me a great education.”

Rogers earned his undergraduate degree in 1993 and at age 39 began to realize his dreams of teaching. This is what pushed him to contact his old professors and eventually take the Graduate Record Examination.

After passing the GRE, Rogers received his Master’s Degree at the University of Kentucky and performed graduate work at the University of Illinois.

Before working as a professor, Rogers worked odd jobs like driving taxis, working for the health department, cleaning out gasoline tanks and working in the costume jewelry industry.

Now, Rogers hardly has any free time on his hands.

“I’m here six days out of seven,” he says. “I try on one day of the week to get out on the golf course. I love to play golf.”

During the summer when he’s not on the golf course, Rogers likes to cook for his wife of 18 years, who also works at VSU.

Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer received the 2012 Excellence in Professional Activity Award.

Dr. Bielmyer suspects she was given this award due to her published journals, book chapters, and her active research program.

“I have supervised… 18 undergraduate students and one graduate student,” she said. “It’s been a blast working with all of them.”

Dr. Bielmyer teaches Principles of Biology I and II, Environmental Science and Aquatic Toxicology.

She stayed in her hometown for her B.S. at The University of North Florida, and got her M.S. and Ph.D. at The University of Clemson for aquatic toxicology.

Dr. Bielmyer likes to get her students involved in research, and has taken her students to The Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference in Charleston.

“I want them to see that there is more to Biology than just sitting in a class room and learning that way,” she says.

In her spare time, Dr. Bielmyer runs triathlons and local 5K’s in the spring and summer.

 “I’m outdoorsy, so I really like canoeing, or diving, or snorkeling or traveling,” she says. “I went diving three weeks ago in Miami and did some research.”

Both honored teachers describe VSU and its faculty as “supporting and friendly.”

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