Tormey named Torch Award winner; Rice given Pilot Award

Jessica Tormey, Derby, was named today as the recipient of the Torch Award as the outstanding graduating senior from the Class of 2013 at Fort Hays State University.

She will receive a Bachelor of Science in business education and a B.S. in secondary education at Commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, in Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The announcement of the Torch Award came today at the annual Graduate and Faculty Brunch, sponsored by the FHSU Alumni Association. The Pilot Award for outstanding faculty member and the Navigator Award for outstanding faculty advisor were also announced. The recipients will sit on the platform and be recognized at Commencement.

Dr. Eugene Rice, associate professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy, was the Pilot Award Recipient, and Scott Jones, instructor of management and marketing, was given the Navigator Award.

Dr. Marcy Aycock, a 1984 graduate of FHSU and president of the FHSU Alumni Association, introduced Tormey as the Torch Award winner. One faculty member, said Aycock, wrote of Tormey, "This student has demonstrated the self-will and determination to make her a successful student and contributor in society. It was very evident when I first met this individual that she would be a very special student to Fort Hays State University."

She has been actively engaged in the Phi Beta Lambda and Collegiate DECA business organizations as well as FHSU’s Marketing Management Association, Student Government Association and Anderson VIP Ambassadors. She is also a former flutist in FHSU’s marching and concert bands and wind ensemble. In her work with the SGA, Tormey headed the highly important and sometimes very difficult Appropriations Committee for more than two full terms.

Aycock also introduced the Pilot Award winner. Rice, she said, has produced "numerous scholarly publications and presentations, and in 2008 was selected as a Fulbright Visiting Specialist in Islamic Studies. In addition to numerous departmental and university committees, he served on the Kansas Board of Regents Core Outcomes Project representing the Philosophy Department."

One student wrote of him, said Aycock, "This professor had the greatest attitude and kept a positive environment in the classroom at all times. This was not an easy class, but it made me think deeper than any class I have ever taken.”

Alex Hendee, a senior from Roeland Park, who is completing his third term as the vice-president of the Student Government Association, presented Jones with his Navigator Award. Hendee said, "one of the graduating seniors who nominated Jones wrote that the professor 'treated me as a peer and worked with me outside of office hours to ensure I was successful. This individual is the epitome of what an outstanding advisor should be.' "

The choice, said Hendee, was very difficult among the eight finalists but, in the end, he said, "despite the difficulty we faced making a decision, our choice was unanimous."

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.

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. Nominations for the Navigator Award are also made by graduating seniors in a process conducted by the Student Government Association.

The Alumni Association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 46,000 graduates living throughout the United States and 70 foreign countries.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 785-628-4430 or

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