Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Lane honored by S.C. Independent Colleges, Universities

Lane (Butchart) 382x255

 (Photo by Les Butchart)

Professor receives Excellence in Teaching Award

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – John Lane, associate professor of English and environmental studies at Wofford College and director of the college’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center, is among the recipients of Excellence in Teaching Awards presented Tuesday, April 5, in Columbia by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc.

A poet, essayist and author of numerous books, Lane, M.F.A., has been teaching students in English and creative writing since joining his alma mater in 1988. He continues to develop Wofford’s environmental studies major, a program entering its third year. As director of the Goodall Center, located on the Lawson’s Fork Creek in the historic Glendale textile mill office, he has seen the renovated and restored facility receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum certification – the first academic building and only the third non-residential facility in the state to achieve the highest achievable level of LEED.

Lane is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose. His latest, “Abandoned Quarry: New and Selected Poems,” recently was released by Mercer University Press in Macon, Ga. The book includes most of Lane’s published poetry over the past 30 years, plus a selection of new poems.

Lane has won numerous awards and fellowships, including the 2001 Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment by the Southern Environmental Law Center. In 2008, his literary papers were acquired by Texas Tech University’s James Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community, and the Natural World. He is a co-founder of the Hub City Writers Project.

Lane has taught extensively in the world of Southern literature. In 2004, he and creative writing colleague Deno Trakas received $70,000 from the Watson-Brown Foundation to develop a series of courses called “Cornbread & Sushi,” courses exploring the changing rural South through contemporary literature. The success of the three-course sequence resulted in a book by the same name and a $30,000 grant extension for another year. During three of Wofford’s January Interim terms, Lane and Trakas traveled with their students through sections of the South, meeting writers in their element and learning about the ways in which community and the environment influence these writers’ work.

Lane’s writings on nature and the environment have been published widely, and the environmental studies program is far from his first foray into this academic territory. In 2001, he developed, with Wofford biologist Dr. Ellen Goldey, a freshman learning community called “The Nature & Culture of Water,” funded as part of a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant. Along with Goldey, he taught learning community workshops in New Hampshire, California, Washington State, Oklahoma and Illinois on the collaboration between science and the humanities around the theme of water.

Wofford students are always anxious and eager to be part of his extremely popular classes and consistently describe him as an inspirational and motivational teacher, says Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president and dean of the college. “John Lane represents the essence of the true meaning of the word ‘teacher.’ Many institutions may only dream of having such a person among them. We really do and we realize how fortunate we are.”

Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap says, “John Lane is a passionate environmentalist, but I think he can hardly be aware of the impact his presence has had on our academic ecology. With unflagging energy and consummate skill, he has for several decades embodied for us all what a truly productive balance of body, spirit, and mind should be. Such people are the soul of any institution. We could not do without him.”

Each of the 20 member institutions of the SCICU consortium selects one faculty member each year to receive the award, which includes a professional development stipend for the professor. Each recipient is chosen by his or her institution according to rigorous criteria. The most important characteristic of the nominees is their demonstration of the highest standards in teaching methods that encourage students to strive for excellence in their studies and pursuits.

SCICU was established in 1953 with the primary mission of promoting independent higher education in South Carolina. SCICU seeks to advance independent higher education through fundraising, scholarships, research, and by facilitating collaborative activities among the 20 member institutions, which educate nearly 33,000 students each year. For additional information about SCICU, contact Mike LeFever or Brenda Torrance at 803-799-7122, or visit