ETSU presents Distinguished Faculty Awards to Graves, Ordway and Caton

JOHNSON CITY (August 23, 2013) – East Tennessee State University bestowed its highest honors upon three professors today with the presentation of the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Awards for Teaching, Research and Service.

The winners were nominated and selected by their faculty peers. Each received a medallion, a plaque and a $5,000 check provided by the ETSU Foundation during the annual Faculty Convocation, which marks the beginning of the new academic year and fall semester.

The Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching was presented to Travis Graves, an associate professor of Art and Design.

Graves joined the ETSU faculty in 2005 and was appointed as the foundations coordinator for the introductory level studio art program in the Department of Art and Design.  During that time, “Travis helped to transform the Art Foundations program into an excellent first year experience for art majors and others,” one nominator wrote.

Since his arrival at ETSU, Graves has taught 15 different courses, including studio art and sculpture classes at all levels, ranging from introductory to graduate.  He has been actively involved in student advisement and has been a member of 29 bachelor of fine arts degree committees and nine master of fine arts degree committees.  He presently serves as the department’s sculpture area coordinator.

“Effective teaching in studio art is measured in a variety of ways, and one aspect that is often taken for granted is the necessity of constant engagement with the facility, equipment, tools, and materials, as well as a diligent attention to safety,” one nominator wrote.  “Travis is the consummate professional in managing the studio safely, efficiently, and proactively.  He is constantly improving the facility, on his own time, and this lends to an ever improved (and safer) learning environment for our students.”

Graves holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art from Iowa State University and a master of fine arts degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An ETSU alumnus who currently serves as a faculty member at another university wrote, “Travis also allowed me to observe some of his courses to garner a better understanding of how to motivate my own students to think more critically and to inspire creativity….Without Travis’s guidance and support I would not be the teacher I am today.”

An undergraduate student added, “Travis is always incredibly involved with every project that we undertake as students.  This continually baffles me, due to the complex nature of many sculptural processes and the sheer amount of various processes and techniques that must be performed for an entire classroom of students.  He is a well of creative energy and always makes himself available to all students.”

Graves’ work has been part of solo and group exhibitions featured in numerous states. As the 2013 distinguished teaching award winner, Graves will serve as Mace Bearer for the 2013-14 commencement ceremonies at ETSU.

The Distinguished Faculty Award in Research went to Dr. Gregory A. Ordway, a professor of pharmacology and interim chair for the ETSU Department of Biomedical Sciences in theJames H. Quillen College of Medicine.

Ordway arrived at ETSU in 2005 as chair of the Department of Pharmacology, and during his eight years at the university he has continued to build on his own decorated research career while also fostering the research of colleagues and serving as a mentor for young scientists. Ordway has served as interim chair of Biomedical Sciences since the College of Medicine combined five basic science departments into one comprehensive unit.

Prior to his arrival at ETSU, Ordway already had a long history of success as a researcher with a national and international reputation. The research project that has been central to Ordway’s career is the biological basis of clinical depression and the molecular mechanisms of antidepressant drugs, and he has been the recipient of several grants to investigate the topic. Ordway’s research could potentially lead to the development of new antidepressant drug targets and novel treatment strategies for depressive disorders.

Ordway, who received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from The Ohio State University, has received more than $25 million in research grant funding during his career. He is currently the principal investigator on three grants, two of which are funded by federal agencies, and one of which has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1991. In addition, Ordway obtained a $9 million, competitive grant from NIH to fund renovation of the primary Quillen research facility, Building 119.

A colleague noted that Ordway’s own research has led to “unexpected and strikingly original observations” into the pathophysiology and pharmacotherapy of depression. The colleague also lauded Ordway for taking an interdisciplinary approach to research and added that, by using the latest methods in such techniques as stereology and laser capture micro-dissection, Ordway “places his research in the best possible position to develop a ‘big picture’ of the processes his laboratory is trying to understand.”

 Ordway’s accomplishments as a researcher have been recognized throughout the nation and around the world. He has been invited to deliver lectures at more than 40 locations in the United States, as well as in Israel, France, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Another colleague added: “Dr. Ordway has excelled both in performing original research and in materially and intellectually fostering an environment conducive to research for other faculty at East Tennessee State University and the Quillen College of Medicine during his tenure here.”

Dr. Benjamin Caton received the Distinguished Faculty Award in Service.  He is a professor of piano and aural skills in the ETSU Department of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences.  His campus record of service includes four brief periods as department chair in which he stepped in as needed, and seven years as graduate coordinator for the department.  He played an integral role in working with Jim and Sandy Powell in establishing ETSU as an All-Steinway School, which allows ETSU piano students to play on Steinway instruments in both practice and performance.  In addition to numerous departmental committees, Caton has also been active on councils and committees on the college and university levels.

Within the music profession, Caton has been a member of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association (TMTA), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and Appalachian Music Teachers Association (AMTA) for many years, serving each in many capacities, including as a board member and officer.  According to his nomination, his efforts have culminated in his six-year appointment as president-elect, president and immediate past president – the post he currently holds – of the 22,000-member MTNA.  And, he was the inaugural recipient of the TMTA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

Caton is “an excellent example of the servant-leader,” his nomination states.  “He is modest almost to a fault.  He serves as a mentor in all manner of ways, giving his time and energy for the benefit of others, both faculty members and students, yet he would not consider that to be service; that is just part of who he is.  Service is inherent in the way he lives his life.  He succeeds when his colleagues and students succeed.”

Caton’s leadership not only benefits the university but also the students he teaches, one colleague wrote.  “Dr. Caton is an exceptional role model to them, a national figure (in) their midst, a teacher who serves as a leader that they will never forget.”  He also assists new faculty members in the department, this nominator continued.  “Dr. Caton mentors young faculty: He supports, encourages, and shows a committed interest in their artistic work and the progress of their studios.”

In addition to his service record, Caton has earned two Teacher of the Year awards from AMTA.

Caton, a former elementary school music teacher, joined the ETSU music faculty in 1972 and holds his bachelor’s degree from ETSU and his master’s and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University.  

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