Mayers named Torch Award winner, Taggart given Pilot Award at Graduate and Faculty Brunch

For the second year in a row, a student from Great Bend has been honored with the Torch Award as the outstanding graduating senior at Fort Hays State University.

Jennifer Mayers, a marketing major, was named today at the Graduate and Faculty Brunch as the 2004 Torch Award recipient.

Dr. Germaine Taggart, associate professor of teacher education, was presented with the Pilot Award as this year's outstanding teaching faculty member and Karrie Simpson Voth, assistant professor of art, received the seventh annual Navigator Award as outstanding academic advisor.

The Alumni Association instituted the Torch and Pilot awards in 1974 to emphasize the importance of excellence in teaching and learning. They are presented every year at the Graduate and Faculty Brunch in advance of Commencement, scheduled for Saturday, May 15. This year, degrees will be awarded to 1,310 graduates: 50 associate's degrees, 282 graduate degrees and 978 bachelor's degrees.

Dr. Carol Patrick, associate professor of psychology and Faculty Senate president, introduced the 33 nominees for the Torch Award. Mitch Hall, Anthony junior and Student Government Association president, presented the 31 nominees for the Pilot Award.

Mayers was presented with the Torch Award and Taggart with the Pilot Award by Alumni Association President Alan Deines.

The Torch Award candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of classroom excellence, participation in professional organizations and involvement in student or civic activities. The Pilot Award is given on the basis of classroom excellence, ongoing research and service activities. Candidates are nominated by graduating seniors.

Deines, in announcing Mayers as the Torch Award winner, said that one faculty member wrote of Mayers: "This student works with colleagues in individual as well as group situations, demonstrating strong interpersonal skills and leadership."

Another professor wrote: "This student's involvement in civic activity and community involvement is exceptional. This candidate has achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average, an exceptional outcome made even more impressive considering an average work schedule of 20 hours per week and heavy involvement in extracurricular activities."

Mayers served as president and vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi, a departmental group promoting interest in the fields of commerce, accounting and finance; was president and vice president of McMindes Hall Council; was secretary of Mortar Board Senior Honor Society; was vice president of the Residence Hall Association; and was vice president of Alpha Lambda Delta, the national honor society for freshmen.

She was also active in the University Activities Board, the Marketing and Management Club, VIP Student Ambassadors, Tiger Wild, McMindes Hall Judicial Board and the Augustfest Committee. She volunteered for Special Olympics and Relay for Life and received numerous academic scholarships for her achievements. She also participated in the Study Abroad Program in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Last year's Torch Award recipient, Rigoberto Ramirez, also graduated from Great Bend High School. He traveled from Boston, MA, where he works at the Gillett Company, to speak at today's brunch.

Deines, introducing Taggart as the Pilot Award winner, said that one student described her as a professor "who constantly encourages independent thinking as well as collaboration with peers and professionals -- one who always makes time for students and responds in a positive manner. For every question students ask, this faculty member follows it up with another question to keep us searching for a better answer or different approach."

Taggart, said Deines, has written many articles, book chapters and books and has presented numerous papers and developed many grant proposals. She is the co-principal investigator on two grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $50,000 and she has been "successful in securing funded research and development projects -- some in collaboration with faculty within her own college at Fort Hays State, some with colleagues from the other colleges, and some with educators outside this university."

Deines noted that Taggart has taken a leadership role in developing a new program to prepare students for teaching endorsements at the middle school level in science, math, social studies and English. She is involved in committee work at all levels and participates in professional organizations and "actively supports the attendance of students at professional conferences."

Taggart has served as president of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics and as a board member of the Kansas Association of Science Teachers. She was appointed to the Kansas State Science Council and has chaired and served as a consultant to regional educational consortia.

Taggart received a bachelor of science and master of science in elementary education from Pittsburg State University, a specialist in education degree from Fort Hays State University and a doctorate in education from Kansas State University.

Bobby Lloyd, a graduating senior from Clay Center and current vice president of the SGA, presented the four nominees for the Navigator Award for outstanding academic advisor and also announced Voth as the winner.

"This year's recipient," said Lloyd, "has a true interest in student success, accessibility and availability."

Voth, who earned a bachelor of fine arts from FHSU in 1996 and completed a master of fine arts in graphic design in 1998, joined the university's faculty in 1998. She was recently granted tenure and was promoted to associate professor of art, a promotion that takes effect in June.

The Graduate and Faculty Brunch is sponsored by the FHSU Alumni Association. The association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 36,000 graduates living throughout the United States and 61 foreign countries.

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