August 11, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU Presents Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards

VALDOSTA - At convocation Monday, Aug. 11, six members of the Valdosta State University family were recognized for their outstanding professional contributions.

The Faculty Excellences awards were presented to four individuals who were recommended by a faculty committee representing all colleges and divisions at VSU. Each have admirably represented the achievement of VSU faculty and have received top honors in teaching, advising, professional activity and service. Awards for Excellence in Service for Classified Staff were also selected by a cross-sectional committee and presented to individuals with exemplary credentials in professionalism, service to VSU, others and the community.

Dr. Jane Whitehead, associate professor in the Modern and Classical Languages Department, was chosen as the 2008 Excellence in Professional Activity Award winner due to her extensive and impressive research as well as her involvement with various publications covering topics like art history, field archaeology and even genetics. According to the committee, she has conducted and directed field archeological work at Etruscan and Roman sites in Tuscany and Umbria, in addition to founding and serving as editor for a periodical titled "Etruscan Studies." She is also the editor of "Etruscan News," an international newsletter.

The 2008 Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Catherine Schaeffer, associate professor of dance in the Department of Communication Arts, for her work both in and out of the classroom. Not only has she taught eighteen different dance courses and assisted in developing curriculum for the new Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, she frequently takes students to regional, national and international conferences to present their work and skills. Her motivational, superior teaching has assisted numerous graduates, who have succeeded in careers as professional dancers, educators and choreographers.

Dr. Bruce Caster, professor of accounting and finance, is known to believe that advising is more than assisting students with class registration, which is why he was chosen as the 2008 Excellence in Advising Award winner. Dr. Caster has created presentations and advising aids so that students can clearly recognize prerequisites and class sequences as well as understand processes for licensing and certifications.

Dr. Nanci Scheetz, professor of middle, secondary, reading and deaf education, was chosen as the 2008 Excellence in Services Award winner because she sets an example by living what she believes through preparing teachers and interpreters and improving the overall quality of life for the deaf and hearing-impaired. According to the committee, her services extend far beyond the classroom. She has initiated the American Sign Language Club on campus, provided interpreting services for deaf students on campus and in the community and coordinated interpreting from her students, to improve their abilities and benefit those receiving the services. A board member for Georgia State Outreach and Technical Assistance Center, she also provides consultations to numerous school districts, which impacts the quality of services offered to deaf and hearing-impaired students throughout Georgia.

Assistant director for the Student Advising Center in the Langdale College of Business, Diane Guess was one of two winners of the Excellence in Service for Classified Staff awards. In her position, she holds high regards for service standards as she fulfills an increasing number of obligations. She has been named the Sam Walton Fellow SIFE co-advisor for four years and also serves as an advisor to the "I Choose" project, which partners VSU female students with at risk teenage girls to serve as mentors and tutors.

Beck Murphy, assistant director of Employee and Organizational Development, was also named an Excellence in Service for Classified Staff award winner. An employee of more than 10 years, she has been instrumental in increasing professional development for faculty and staff, which is one of VSU's strategic goals. She has served as the Customer Service Champion for VSU within the Governor's Customer Service Improvement Plan and has volunteer countless hours in a leadership role for the Campus Wellness Committee, the University System of Georgia Professional Development Taskforce and much more.

Each of these award winners symbolizes the excellence expected from all members of the VSU community and the university commends them on their leadership and impressive accomplishments.

Photos can be found here:

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