click here for photos!
April 7, the Department of English and our colleagues from Philosophy
held our annual joint celebration of the accomplishments of our students.
This year's program had as its theme a quotation from W. S. Merwin:
"I keep wanting to give you what is already yours"-to indicate
that the students being honored were receiving recognition for gifts
that they bring to the departments, that the prizes that they took
home were actually things that belonged to them all along.
faculty advisor to Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, served
as mistress of ceremonies for the event, and student recipients made
brief statements that allowed the audience to get to know them as
they accepted their awards. These "sound bytes" of student
creativity provided humor, emotion, character, and evidence of enormous
this year's event included three new awards: the David Bottoms
Distinguished Alumni Award, named for the renowned poet and novelist,
currently the state's poet laureate, who holds a master's degree from
the English program at West Georgia, created to recognize a student
who has graduated from our department and gone on to professional
success in some area of the discipline; the Robert Reynolds
Excellence in Teaching English Award, named for the retired teaching
legend who made Shakespeare come alive for generations of West Georgia
students and intended to recognize the faculty member selected by
a student committee who most exemplifies the kind of teaching that
inspires and challenges students to go beyond what they believe that
they can do; and the Martha Saunders Excellence in Teaching
First-Year Writing Award, named for the Professor Emeritus who founded
the UWG Writing Center and directed the first-year writing program
for many years. This award recognizes the instructor of first-year
writing chosen through peer nomination who most embodies the program's
goals of excellence.
Professor Ben W. Griffith, who retired from West Georgia in
1987 as Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences, agreed
to lend his name to our annual Fiction Prize. Professors Griffith,
Bottoms, and Saunders all joined us and assisted in making the first
presentations of the newly named awards.
currently assistant professor of English at Coastal Carolina University,
received the first David Bottoms Distinguished Alumna Award. She graduated
from West Georgia in 1994 and went on to receive her M.A. from Ohio
University and her Ph.D. from Binghamton University. She is the author
of several outstanding articles and the editor of a collection of
essays, becoming a leading new voice in the feminist interpretation
of literature and visual culture.
assistant professor of English, who joined our department only this
year, was chosen by the Student Advisory Committee as the first recipient
of the Robert Reynolds Teaching Award. Professor Fraser teaches creative
writing and literary theory in ways that transform his students in
the span of fifteen weeks, and the transformation then continues to
work its magic long after the academic term ends.
The winner of
the inaugural Martha Saunders Excellence in Teaching First-Year Writing
Award was Mitzi McFarland. Professor McFarland holds both the
B.A. and the M.A. from West Georgia and in 2003 was named Lecturer
in English in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the
first-year writing program. As her nominating letter testified, she
is legendary among students for two things: the difficulty of her
courses and the level of esteem and respect they have for her.
Jason Kesler was the recipient of the Ben W. Griffith Fiction
Prize for a portion of his creative M.A. thesis. Jason was able to
have lunch with Professor Griffith before the awards program and discuss
his work, and Professor Griffith has offered to correspond with him
by email and become a reader of Jason's fiction. After a summer of
intense writing, Jason plans to defend his thesis and graduate in
The Kay Magenheimer
Poetry Prize this year was awarded to Amy Ellison, who read
her poem "White Pickets" for the audience.
was named Most Outstanding English Minor; the Most Outstanding English
Education Major was Stephanie Fields; Denise Slavinski
and Laura Sonderman shared the award for Most Promising New
English Majors. Two Senior Insight Awards were presented, to Carrie
Fitts and Erica Rohlfs. Junior Insight Awards went to Adam
Clark and James Thomas.
Awards for best
contributions to Senior Seminar went to Josh Grant, Kris
Forward, and Rod McRae.
was named Most Outstanding Graduate Student. In addition, Bric's legacy
to the department has been immortalized in the naming of our student
service award-the Brie [a conscious misspelling created by Greg Fraser's
misreading of Bric's name during his campus visit and now also immortalized]
Barker Service Award, inaugurated last year and presented to Bric,
which was presented this year to Eric Smith.
Sigma Tau Delta
inductees were recognized after Eric Smith, chapter president,
gave a summary of the year's activities. Eric presented each new member
with a certificate, after which Professor Doyle awarded them their
membership pin. New members are Jesse Bishop, Adam Clark, Josh
Grant, Margaret Griffin, Amelia Lewis, Shelly Mitchell, Scott Roberts,
Erica Rohlfs, and Rebecca Schwab. Adam Clark was
announced as chapter president for next year.
were those students who had presented scholarly work at academic conferences
during the previous year. They were Bric Barker, Dorothy Byrom,
Mandi Lesak, Phillip Mitchell, Karen Miovas, Amy Riley, and Eric
Smith. Two English students who were selected to present their
research at Big Night, West Georgia's celebration of undergraduate
research, were also recognized--Rebecca Schwab, the Humanities
presenter at Big Night, and Erica Rohlfs, who will be the Social
Sciences presenter. Phillip Fowler, the Humanities runner-up,
was also recognized.
students who will receive departmental scholarships for the coming
academic year were also recognized. Katie Allen, Amelia Lewis,
Nicole Morgan, and Ashley Wilbanks are the recipients of
the George W. Walker English Scholarships. The Willie Maude Thompson
English Scholarships will go to Jason Bearden, Amy Ellison, Lindsay
Jones, and Rebecca Schwab.
included the New Major Award to Michelle Fellows and the Burdett
and Shirley Wantland Scholarship to Ginger Evans.
The highest academic
award that each program gives--the Gordon Watson Award--recognizes
the students who are the most outstanding majors in each program.
This year the Watson Award in Philosophy was presented to Nicole
Walker. Rod McRae and Eric Smith shared the Watson
Award in English.