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Board approves distinguished professors

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 13 - November 20, 1997

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has recognized two of the university's most well-known faculty members by elevating them to the rank of alumni distinguished professor.
Wayne Purcell and Lucinda Roy were recognized for their extraordinary academic citizenship and distinguished service within the university community. The honor is reserved for faculty members who, through outstanding contributions to the instructional program of the university, have touched the lives of generations of Virginia Tech alumni.
A professor of agriculture and applied economics, Purcell is director of the university's Research Institute on Livestock Pricing and coordinator of the Rural Economic Analysis Program at Virginia Tech.
Andy Swiger, dean of the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, praised Purcell's contributions to Virginia Tech. "Wayne Purcell's integration of teaching, research, and Extension personifies the modern land-grant professor," Swiger said.
Roy has been at Virginia Tech since 1985, first as lecturer of English. She was named assistant professor in 1987, associate professor in 1991, and professor in 1997. In 1993, she was named assistant dean for projects in the College of Arts and Sciences and, in 1994, associate dean for curriculum, outreach, and diversity.
Roy won the 1994 Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize for her book of poetry, and, as a result, The Humming Birds was published in 1995. She is the author of another book of poetry, Wailing the Dead to Sleep, published in London in 1988. Her collections of poetry have been reviewed in Publisher's Weekly (a starred review), QBR, The Library Journal, The Journal of West Indian Literature, and other magazines. Her novel Lady Moses will be published this winter by HarperCollins in the United States and by Virago/Little Brown in England.
"I am pleased to see Lucinda Roy receive this recognition," said Dean Robert C. Bates, "because she is a truly unique educator and scholar-artist of many dimensions and talents. She is an exceptional faculty member who epitomizes the values and strength of Virginia Tech, as we move into the next millennium, through her creative writing and advances in the use of technology in student learning. She will indeed be a very fine ambassador when representing Virginia Tech as an ADP."
Purcell has been recognized with numerous teaching awards, as well as praised for his teaching ability from fellow professors. Students, as well, have praised him.
Though he doesn't have an Extension appointment, Purcell gained nation-wide praise for his Extension programs and his outreach to industry groups. Ted Schroeder, professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, pointed to his work with universities across the nation, with government agencies, and with commodity groups.
His research has "contributed to the solution of old problems in a hide-bound industry," according to Joseph B. Dial, commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. "His blending of academic expertise with common sense has earned him a respect out in the field that few professors enjoy. The commercial sector is now starting to benefit and profit from his wisdom."
To concentrate on teaching, lecturing, and her literary career, Roy stepped down from her position as associate dean in 1997. In that role, she had worked on the development of on-line courses and Internet-based educational strategies. Besides working with the college's Cultural Diversity Committee and serving on the university's Academic Council for Outreach, as well as on several instructional-technology task forces, Roy helped initiate several new programs using technology to benefit students and faculty members, including Cyberschool, ACCESS, VTOPS, Service-Learning, Swap '94, and `A'-Tech.
"Students graduating from Virginia Tech today leave with advanced skills and knowledge-acquisition strategies far different from those of even a few years ago," Bates said. "Lucinda has been at the center of most of this activity in the information revolution and has gained local, state, regional, and national visibility for herself and the university as a much sought-after speaker on this topic."
Roy held the Gloria D. Smith Two-Year Endowed Professorship in Black Studies until May 1997 and continues to serve as professor of English. She is a member of the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative, EDUCOM, the Golden Key National Honor Society, the Virginia Association of Black Faculty and Administrators, and the Modern Language Association
Purcell earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Virginia Tech, and his doctorate from Michigan State University. He was an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he was a professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University before joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 1978.