Wofford professor recognized by S.C. Independent Colleges organization
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College biology professor Dr. G.R. Davis is the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching award sponsored by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc. (SCICU). Each of the 20 member institutions of the consortium selects one faculty member to receive the award, and Davis is Wofford’s designee for 2008.
The award includes a $3,000 professional development stipend that can be used as desired by the faculty member, with the approval of the nominating college.
Davis joined the Wofford faculty in 1993, coming from Wingate University. He earned his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and did post-doctoral research at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His photography work has been featured in “Cottonwood Trail,” published by the Hub City Writers Project.
According to his colleagues, Davis is the quintessential liberal arts college faculty member. In addition to his expertise as a biologist in physiology, Davis is an avid photographer, artist and naturalist. During his time at Wofford, he has taken students on monthlong Interim trips all over the world. Student evaluations of his work uniformly consist of words such as enthusiastic, energetic, knowledgeable, exciting, creative, dynamic, entertaining, demanding, and “hard.”
“I dare say that very few faculty members in America have ever so passionately provided a plethora of learning experiences on the order of what G.R. Davis has done,” Wofford Dean David Wood says. “The lives of scores of Wofford students have forever been enriched and improved as a result of his effort, initiative and commitment. Dr. Davis is genuinely committed to doing good in the world, and the evidence attesting to his success is overwhelming.”
Along with Wofford colleague Dr. Stacy Hettes, Davis is engaged in ongoing research about diet and feeding behavior. Wofford students have worked closely with both professors during summers and regular semesters.
Davis says he enjoys teaching students at Wofford because “they’re a constant challenge. I have to try to stay sharp. They have high expectations and goals for themselves.”
Wood notes that Davis employs popular technology as part of instruction, recording and podcasting his lectures and posting academic materials on his Web page. “I hope when I teach that I can educate, entertain and inspire,” Davis says. “It takes time and imagination. I may teach the same classes over and over, but I never teach them exactly the same way. There are always improvements that can be made.”
Davis stresses that he’s part of a team at Wofford. “There are many deserving teachers here. It’s nice to be singled out, but I feel like I’m an average professor at Wofford.”
In the department of biology, he teaches mostly upper-level students, and he stresses that “by the time I get to these biology majors, they are accustomed to great teaching. In our department, we measure our success by the success of the students.”
Wood also points to Davis’ creativity in developing courses and travel opportunities for Wofford’s innovative January Interim term. Among his travel courses, he’s taught “Evolution” in Ecuador and the Galapagos; “Islands, Nature and Culture” in Trinidad and Venezuela; “Topography and Nature” in Nepal; and “Exotic Ex-Colonies” in Namibia and Botswana.
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