Faculty, Staff Awards


By Jeremy Handel

This article appeared originally in the fall 2021 issue of Frontiers Magazine

Spartanburg Methodist College recognized three faculty members for their commitment to teaching during the 2020-21 school year with their annual faculty awards, named the outstanding staff member award recipient, and awarded four former faculty members professor emeritus status.

Archie Vernon and Margaret Wannamaker Huff Faculty Award
Dr. Mirick has been with SMC’s science department, teaching physics and physical science, for two years. She earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, as well as her master’s and bachelor’s in physics, from Clemson University. Dr. Mirick brings more than 20 years of teaching experience to the College. She was recognized as the 2021 Archie Vernon and Margaret Wannamaker Huff Faculty Award winner, which honors an SMC faculty member who exemplifies outstanding professional qualifications and teaching ability and comes with an $800 stipend for further study. It was founded in 1970 as an endowed fund by Dr. A.V. Huff, Jr., a former member of the SMC Board of Trustees, and his wife, Kate, in memory of his parents, Archie Vernon and Margaret Wannamaker Huff.

SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award
The SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes leading faculty members at each of the organization’s member schools. This year’s recipient, Dr. Kirk Hansen, joined the history department in 2016 after receiving his Ph.D. in history from the University of Dundee. He has made an impact on his students and colleagues and is a past winner of the Huff Award and the GBHEM Exemplary Teacher award. The SCICU award comes with a $3,000 grant for further study and research. SCICU is a charitable organization that represents 21 liberal arts institutions in South Carolina, providing fundraising, scholarship funds, and research.

GBHEM Exemplary Teacher Award
Dr. Lanford has been with SMC for 10 years, mentoring countless music students to achieve their best and share their gifts with the world. And this year, he was honored as the 2021 General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Exemplary Teacher Award winner. He has previously served as the Minister of Music at a number of churches, choral director, and music professor, and has 33 published compositions. Dr. Lanford earned his bachelor’s in music education from the University of South Carolina, his Master of Church Music from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Music Arts from the University of South Carolina. The award is accompanied by a $500 grant for further study. GBHEM is the leadership development agency of the United Methodist Church.

.L. Geddis Staff Excellence Award
Leah Caldwell was the recipient of the annual J.L. Geddis Staff Excellence award for 2020-21 – an honor given to her by her peers. Caldwell is the Director of Alumni Relations at SMC, leading efforts to maintain relationships with the college’s graduates and fundraising for the annual fund that assists SMC students during their education. Caldwell is a 1998 graduate of SMC and was a member of the Pioneers softball team. She has been working at the college since 2001, when she started as an admissions counselor before transitioning to her current role in 2002. She lives on her family farm in Newberry with her husband Marshall and daughter Suzana.The Geddis award, voted on by staff, recognizes a staff member who has been at SMC for three years and displays excellence in creativity, leadership, teamwork, initiative and who makes special contributions to the institution. Geddis served as vice president of business affairs, accounting and economics professor, and men’s golf coach over his 41-year career at SMC.

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