By Abby Ott, Staff Writer
The Awards Day Program is a ceremony held every year in which faculty dress in robes, people gather in the chapel and students and professors receive awards for their hard work.
The grand finale is the announcement of the Faculty of the Year Award. This year’s winner was Dr. Gavin Richardson, professor of English.
Criterion includes classroom, laboratory or studio teaching, faculty professional development activities, off-campus community activities, on-campus and local church religious activities and extra-curricular student activities.
“I think recognition like this is a kind of happy byproduct of loving what you do,” Richardson said. “It’s not something you are intentional about achieving. I love being in the classroom. I love engaging students.
“I love thinking, talking and writing about literature. I operate with a strong sense of obligation to my students and to this university. I would like to think that this recognition simply means that somewhere along the way, somebody noticed.”
Richardson has has taught at Union for 13 years. He said he was surprised to hear his name called.
Natalie Wittman, senior Spanish major, nominated Richardson and said she hoped for and expected him to win.
“Dr. Richardson is a rare find in a professor,” Wittman said. “His profession is his passion. It is a passion not only made manifest in every course he teaches but also in his students. His love for the material he teaches and studies is contagious in and out of the classroom.”
Wittman said Richardson is always prepared for lectures, has high expectations for his students, is an honorable professional and has “a wicked sharp wit and sense of humor.”
Logan Smith, junior English major, said he feels Richardson deserves the award. He said Richardson has impacted him and that he is honored to call Richardson a friend and professor.
“Dr. Richardson is a man of exceptional worth behind the mission of Union University,” Smith said. “Truly, my faith has been enriched by his riveting lectures and classroom discussions. Beyond the classroom setting, though, he is a brilliant scholar in his field of medieval studies. The type of education one receives from Richardson is both precious and rare.”
Richardson said he will find the award most encouraging when his schedule becomes busy or stressful. While the award is inspiring, he said he will not be doing anything differently in the classroom.
Overall, he said the award has helped him to value the relationships he has cultivated over the years. Richardson also was thankful for something unexpected the day he received the award.
“My family was invited to lunch with Dr. and Mrs. Dockery after Awards Day,” Richardson said. “Fortunately, the kids didn’t break anything. I think I’m most grateful for that.”