Governor names three from Virginia Tech among the 2005 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Members
February 15, 2005
Governor Mark R. Warner recognized today 12 outstanding faculty members from Virginia's colleges and universities for their excellence in teaching, research and public service. Among the 12 included three Virginia Tech professors-- Rick O. Claus, Lewis Hester Chair of Engineering in the College of Engineering; E. Scott Geller, professor of psychology in the College of Science; and Lucinda Roy, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
"Everyone benefits from the dedication and knowledge of these outstanding individuals -- students, institutions of higher learning and the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Governor Warner at a presentation ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber of the Virginia State Capitol.
The Outstanding Faculty Awards Program (OFA) is administered by the State Council of Higher Education and funded by Dominion, the long-term corporate underwriter. An OFA award is the Commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public colleges and universities. Now in its 19th year, the OFA program awards faculty members selected from a pool of candidates nominated by their peers. "This award recognizes the finest among Virginia's faculty at our institutions of higher education for their superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service," said SCHEV Executive Director Daniel J. LaVista.
"The OFA program has a well deserved reputation for fostering faculty excellence. Dominion is proud to underwrite it and we look forward to continuing the partnership for many years," said Thos. E. Capps, chairman and chief executive officer. Dominion has committed $75,000 per year for a three-year minimum to support the program. In the past year, the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion, has approved more than $1 million in grants to higher education in Virginia.
"Dominion is one of the Commonwealth's most valued corporate citizens and a long-time friend of higher education," said Governor Mark R. Warner.
The majority of the Dominion Foundation's $75,000 annual gift was distributed today as $5,000 honoraria to each of 12 OFA recipients. The remainder of the gift was used by SCHEV to host the awards presentation and a luncheon for award recipients and their family members.
Claus, who holds a joint appointment in the departments ofmaterials science and engineering and electrical and computerengineering, is the associate director of the Applied Biomedical Center, and the director of the Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center (FEORC) at Virginia Tech. He is also co-editor-in-chief of the Institute of Physics journal, Smart Materials and Structures. Since joining Virginia Tech in 1977, Claus has served as the principal investigator on more than 500 separate research programs totaling nearly $35 million. Within FEORC, he has submitted more than 100 patent disclosures and published more than 950 papers in lightwave technology and applications. Alone, Claus has authored 30 issued patents, six of which are licensed and the basis of manufactured products; he has also involved students in the writing of nearly 1,000 publications. Since FEORC's initial funding in 1985, a total of 20 companies—employing more than 200 Virginians—have been spun off from Claus' work with students.
In recognition of his efforts, Claus received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Optical Engineering Society in 2002 and was named Virginia Outstanding Scientist by the Virginia Science Museum in 2001. He has also received the Tutor Award for Teaching from the Society of Automotive Engineers and the C. Holmes MacDonald Award from HKN, the national electrical-engineering honor society. Claus holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.
Geller is a professor in and the director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology, where he has worked since 1969. His 160-page curriculum vita attests to his exceptional research and scholarship—he has led research grants totaling $5.3 million, published over 250 research articles, 40 book chapters, and 19 books, and presented over 1,000 papers at professional meetings. Geller has intensively mentored undergraduate and graduate students and has included them as co-authors on research publications and conference presentations.
For 35 years, he has applied his research to such real-world problems as energy conservation, environmental protection, and transportation safety. If you drive one of General Motors' Saturn automobiles, you have Geller to thank for the seatbelt reminder buzzer's four-second delay—those who buckle up immediately never have to hear the buzzer. One popular safety magazine's editor recalled a session at which Geller presented, where the audience spilled out into the hallway to hear his "seriously pumped and passionate" presentation, noting that he has always had the knack of making ivory-tower research somehow interesting. Geller holds a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Roy is the chair of the Department of English. In 1997, the same year she was promoted to full professor, she received one of Virginia Tech's highest accolades—an appointment as an Alumni Distinguished Professor—a lifetime endowed professorship recognizing "extraordinary academic citizenship and distinguished service within the Virginia Tech community." She was the first woman and the first person of color to be chosen by the university for this endowed chair. Roy has long been recognized as a pioneer in the creative uses of technology in the classroom and has been instrumental in obtaining a substantial grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support innovative projects.
Roy is an outstanding teacher, and her creative scholarship is an integral part of her teaching. Her poetry collection, The Humming Birds, won the Eight Mountain Poetry Prize. And, one of her published novels, Lady Moses, was chosen by Barnes and Noble for its "Discover Great Writers" Series in 1998. Her works-in-progress include another novel, a play, a story for children, and a novel for young adults. In the personal-statement portion of her nomination materials, Roy explained that she has "developed a 'creed' that guides [her] as a teacher and a creative scholar: learning is a process that must be nurtured; the greatest joy is found in asking the hardest questions; the young are the most valuable gift we have; and finding connections between ostensible differences and unlikes is the key to genuine discovery." Roy holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arkansas and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Richmond.
Other 2005 Outstanding Faculty Awards Winners include Gayle F. Childers, professor of mathematics, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College; R. Ed Freeman, Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration, University of Virginia; Matt R. Hyre, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Virginia Military Institute; Cynthia M. Jones, Professor and Eminent Scholar of Biology, Old Dominion University; T. Mills Kelly, assistant professor of history, George Mason University; Katharine C. "Kitty" Kersey, University Professor of Early Childhood Education, Old Dominion University; Roland B. Minton, professor of mathematics; Roanoke College; Kate F. Slevin, Chancellor Professor of Sociology, College of William and Mary; and Judy L. Twigg, associate professor of political science, Virginia Commonwealth University.
The General Assembly and the Governor created the OFA Program in 1986. Since being implemented in 1987, a total of 205 Virginia faculty members have received this honor.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest energy companies. The Dominion Foundation contributes more than $6 million a year to education, health and human services, community development, and environmental and cultural programs in areas where the company does business. Producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 28,340 megawatts of generation. Dominion also serves retail energy customers in eight states.