Sociologist, Student in Oxford Earn Top Academic Honors

Columbus State University has named sociology professor Richard (Rik) Newtson as its 2005-06 Educator of the Year. Meanwhile, senior English major Melissa McDaniel, currently studying in England through the CSU in Oxford program, has earned the Faculty Cup as this years most outstanding student. The awards highlighted CSUs Scholastic Honors Convocation Friday afternoon.

Newtson, who has numerous journal publications and is currently writing a textbook, A Sociological Suitcase: Sociology that you can take with you, was honored in addition to English professor Jim Owen (recognized for faculty service) and library science professor Reagan Grimsley (recognized for faculty research and scholarship).

Newtson joined CSUs College of Science faculty in 1998 and teaches a wide range of gerontology and sociology courses. He also advises the student Sociology Club and directs sociology majors in professional internships. He holds a doctorate from Iowa State University and recently described his approach to inspiring excellence in students: Over the years, and with each passing class taught, you evolve, the teacher that you are today is almost certainly not the teacher you were. Becoming an effective teacher is an even lengthier journey demanding loads of energy, empathy, introspection, and caring. Becoming an effective teacher also instills what I call a quest for Valhalla; to be an effective teacher demands that the ideas, skills, and hopes that good teachers inspire, outlive them in the minds of students.

McDaniel, originally from Dallas is finishing her second term at Greyfriars College, part of Oxford University in England where she resides in CSUs Spencer House. She is a member of the CSU Honors Program and several national honor societies. Prior to departing for England, McDaniel was a member of the CSU softball team and poetry editor for The Arden (a yearly collection of published writings by CSU faculty and students). Several previous honors have included the CSU deans list, Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll, CSU Scholar Athlete of the Year, and Whos Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Her community service affiliations have included Big Brothers, Big Sisters; the Childrens Network and Habitat for Humanity.

Other students honored Friday include education major Edward Howard (Academic Recognition Award) and English major Amber Floyd (Phi Kappa Phi Senior Award).

Among the faculty, Owen is credited in nomination documents for tackling service tasks that require steady hard work and that keep the institution on an honest academic footing. A language and literature faculty member since 1995, he supervises part-time faculty and has chaired numerous CSU faculty and administrative hiring committees. Respected by peers campuswide, he's been twice elected as Faculty Senate Executive Officer.

Grimsley, also the universitys archivist since his 2001 arrival, has distinguished himself through publishing a series of journal articles and book reviews in prestigious academic periodicals. This year he became the editor of Provenance: The Journal of the Georgia Society of Archivists and is editor of Muscogiana, a forthcoming journal dealing with the history of genealogy of Columbus and the surrounding area.

In addition to several faculty and student departmental recognitions, the Scholastic Honors Convocation also featured retired faculty and administrator emeritus designations to Earl Bagley (vice president for student affairs), Mario Mion (professor of political science), William Hamilton (professor of management) and Paul Vander Gheynst (dean of arts and letters).