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05/02/2008

Faculty Awards Given During Commencement Ceremonies


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Gerry Derksen
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Janice Chism
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Two outstanding professors in the College of Visual and Performing Arts earned faculty awards that will be presented during the May 10 undergraduate commencement. The undergraduate ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at the Winthrop Coliseum where about 580 seniors will receive their degrees.

A third professor from the College of Arts and Sciences will receive an inaugural Graduate Faculty Award as part of the graduate commencement exercises on May 8.

The graduate ceremony, held at 7 p.m. in Byrnes Auditorium, will recognize the achievements of nearly 170 students earning masters and specialist degrees.

On May 10, the Distinguished Professor award will be given to Lorraine Gorrell, professor of music who is retiring this semester. The Distinguished Professor award is the highest honor Winthrop can bestow upon a faculty member because it indicates exceptional skill in teaching, significant research or creative effort, high standing among professional colleagues and general service to the university.

In her 34 years at Winthrop, Gorrell has developed an unrivaled national and international reputation as an expert in the field of German art song and art song composers, said Don Rogers, chair of the Department of Music.

Considered one of the Department of Music’s most effective advisors, Gorrell scheduled all voice hearings and recitals in the department and as chair of the department’s voice committee, oversaw and heard more than 100 voice juries at the end of each semester. In addition, Gorrell has authored numerous books and scholarly articles, including a widely used textbook on 19th century German lied, or romantic songs. She holds a bachelor of arts from Hood College and a master of music in voice and a master of arts in musicology, both from Yale University.

Outstanding Junior Professor
The Outstanding Junior Professor Award recognizes excellence among assistant professors who demonstrate a reputation for inspired teaching, research or creative excellence, and dedication to the welfare of students. This year’s recipient is Gerry Derksen, assistant professor of design.

Since his arrival in 2001, Derksen has been directly invested in the development of the design program and its curriculum. He has taken an active role in shaping, modifying and updating the curriculum in proposing several innovative classes, most notably a “student design studio” that takes on projects for a semester or year. Derksen also has played a vital role in development of the digital information design program of study involving collaboration with colleagues from four other departments.

Derksen is a tireless advocate for his students, who praise him for his access, his high standards and his supportive, constructive criticism. As advisor for the student chapter of American Institute of Graphic Arts, he has brought in design professionals of national and international note, plus has taken students to professional functions across the region.

Derksen holds a bachelor of interior design from the University of Manitoba and a master of design in visual communication from the University of Alberta.

Graduate Faculty Award
In this first year for the new teaching award, the Graduate Faculty Award will be given to Janice Chism, professor of biology and director of the biology graduate program. This award is made to a graduate faculty member who holds the rank of associate or full professor, has a record of outstanding teaching at the graduate level, and has made a significant contribution to the quality of graduate education at Winthrop.

A member of the graduate faculty for 16 years, Chism chairs the Gradate Faculty assembly and has chaired for two terms the Graduate Council.

In addition to her leadership in these two groups, Chism teaches a variety of upper level courses, including the theory and method of biology, which serves as the gateway course into the department's master of science program. Over the past few years, Chism's help in development of a new graduate curriculum, which brought back a non-thesis option, has drastically increased enrollment and improved the program.

Chism has already been a recipient of the Kinard Teaching Award. An active scholar, Chism spends her research time studying animal behavior and conservation. She has had graduate students conduct research everywhere from Peru to Puerto Rico to the Riverbanks Zoo to the Winthrop Farm.

A Winthrop faculty member since 1989, Chism holds a Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

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