Faculty and staff awards
November 15, 2018
Several college faculty and staff were honored with university-level awards this spring.
Forestry Professor W. Michael Aust received the William E. Wine Award for Teaching Excellence, which includes induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence. Aust was recognized as a dedicated and demanding professor who provides a positive and active learning environment where students are challenged academically and given hands-on experiences. Outside the classroom, Aust is easily approachable; his students seek him out for mentoring, advising, and learning opportunities.
Geography Assistant Professor Tim Baird received the XCaliber Award, which recognizes those who integrate technology in teaching and learning. For the past two years, Baird has taught his two-semester course sequence Seeking Sustainability 1 and 2 in sensor-rich classrooms where accelerometers and cameras record patterns of human movement throughout the semester. The measurements are paired with social data to examine how students’ movements are correlated with different content, pedagogies, and high-impact practices.
James Bock Jr., a plant health care specialist with the building maintenance and grounds unit in Virginia Tech’s Facilities Department, received the President’s Award for Excellence. Bock is taking forestry courses toward his degree while working full time. He identifies diseased trees on campus and works with his supervisor to acquire resources to treat and save the infected trees. In addition, he is working on campus forestry mapping, which keeps the inventory of trees up-to-date.
Recently retired Communications Director Lynn Davis received the Staff Career Achievement Award. Davis was the longest serving college communicator on campus and used her extensive network to benefit the college and Virginia Tech. One of her major career accomplishments was winning the bid for Virginia Tech to host the 2008 Society of Environmental Journalists Conference. She spent two years preparing the program, which was attended by more than 900 environmental journalists from around the country.
Wildlife conservation Associate Professor Sarah Karpanty received the Graduate School’s Outstanding Mentor Award. Her approach to mentorship is “engaging, enlightened, and rigorous,” said students who nominated her. She helps students secure grants needed for their work and fosters strong relationships with them. Students also noted that Karpanty, who serves as the graduate program coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, helped them develop mentoring skills and modeled effective teaching practices for them as well.
Recruitment Director John Gray Williams received the Presidential Principles of Community Award for exemplifying and promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment. Williams was heavily involved in diversity and inclusion efforts as a Virginia Tech student and has continued that trend since returning as a professional. His many accomplishments include co-founding the Ex Lapide Society for LGBTQ Alumni, organizing Virginia Tech’s participation in the Capital Pride festival, and helping create the “Year Zero Reunion,” an annual graduation reception for LGBTQ graduates.