As the academic year begins to draw to a close, we traditionally pause in the midst of the annual march to graduation to recognize the achievements of our faculty and students.
For me, it’s a very satisfying time of year because honoring those who have proved to be the best at what they do reminds us yet again why it is we do what we do. This period of honors and awards serves not only as incentive and motivation, it gives us all a sense of gratitude that we are not in this alone.
This year – the first under the leadership of President Keel and the first as Augusta University – has obviously been a year of tremendous change, yet the thing that has remained constant, as it has for the last few years of equally tremendous change, has been the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff, who continually prove to be some of the most engaged and flexible people any of us could hope to work beside.
Across campus, the weeks that follow will be busy with award dates. Some of the broader, more established awards, like the celebration of faculty that our faculty development unit manages or the awards given out by the University Senate, pull from a university-wide pool of individuals, but we also have a wide array of college-level awards that, while they don’t always receive the overall acclaim that some of the university awards get, are nevertheless important and highly valued. These awards recognize those who are deep in the weeds and are celebrated by those who are right there, shoulder-to-shoulder, with them.
And then, of course, we have a number of specific groups and inductions that recognize the excellence of our best students, like Graduate Research Day, which took place in March, and the Phi Kappa Phi induction, which occurs on April 22.
As an honor society, Phi Kappa Phi stands alongside Phi Beta Kappa in terms of prominence, and it holds a special place in my heart because I vividly remember my own induction back when I was a junior at Clemson and also because I worked on getting a charter for GHSU before the consolidation.
Now, the deep legacy Phi Kappa Phi has enjoyed on the Summerville Campus will be honored on April 22, when the new Augusta University charter is signed.
At the college level, honor societies like The Dental College of Georgia’s Omicron Kappa Upsilon and the Medical College of Georgia’s Alpha Omega Alpha have a long history of recognizing those students who have excelled in those storied programs.
Particularly noteworthy from a student achievement perspective is Stephanie Cipollone, the student chosen to be Augusta University’s Academic Recognition Scholar, an award given by the Board of Regents. Not only was Stephanie, a mathematics major currently applying to medical school, a wonderful choice for the honor, her sister, Brittany, is a former winner of the same, highly selective award.
Of course, Alumni Weekend, April 28-May 1, allows us to highlight our outstanding alumni in a general sense, but it also gives us a chance to spotlight our distinguished alumni, who are generally further along in their careers, and the JAG20, those younger alums who are in the process of making very big splashes in their fields.
The run up to Alumni Weekend is getting a special addition this year – the investiture of Dr. Keel, which comes with its own series of supporting events culminating in the inauguration ceremony on April 27. It’s quite an impressive series of events, and while I know Dr. Keel is excited, he’s been quick to point out that this is all about recognizing and respecting the office, not the person.
From a campus perspective, these kinds of ceremonies have deep meanings, of course, but they also serve to help us shape the traditions and culture that we are so fortunate to be able to help build.
Again, this is such an exciting time to be at Augusta University.
And as I close, I would like to single out one last individual award winner, the Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award winner, Dr. Richard Deaner. Though the awards gala won’t occur until the end of the month, the announcement of this honor came out in March, and we were all very excited to hear it. It is a great recognition for Dr. Deaner, but it’s also a great acknowledgement of the impressive things happening at Augusta University.
Whether the recognition comes from the Board of Regents, our own administration or our individual colleges and departments, this is the season where we single out all those jobs well done. So when you bump into one of the award recipients, please congratulate them for their dedication and service. And if you know of someone doing great things who maybe didn’t receive a formal recognition, give that person a pat on the back, too.