By Kim Corriher
President Roderick J. McDavis has announced that Professor of Geological Sciences R. Damian Nance is Ohio University's Distinguished Professor for 2008.
The Distinguished Professor Award is the university's highest faculty honor and carries a lifetime designation that recognizes scholarly accomplishment, professional reputation and contributions to the university. It rewards honorees with one quarter of professional leave and the opportunity to name one student annually to receive a Distinguished Professor Scholarship.
Nance is quick to commend others for their part in his successes.
"What should be recognized first and foremost is that I am only here because of the barrage of excellent students, colleagues and collaborators with whom I have had the distinct pleasure of working over the past 25 years," Nance said. "I am literally standing on the shoulders of giants.
"I have been very lucky in my time at Ohio University," he added, "and I am very grateful for it."
Nance -- who studies the supercontinent cycle and the Earth's long-term tectonic, geochemical, climactic and biological history -- joined the university as an assistant professor in 1980. He earned tenure in 1984 and has served as a full professor since 1991. He was chair of the Department of Geological Sciences from 1995 to 2000, has twice held a Faculty Senate seat and has served the university on more than 20 advisory committees and councils.
"The commitment to scholarship and research and the remarkable history of service to Ohio University demonstrated by Dr. Damian Nance are precisely the characteristics that we seek to honor among our Distinguished Professors," McDavis said. "His dedication to his students is exemplary and indicative of the core values that make Ohio University a unique and enriched institution of higher education."
McDavis has incorporated the announcement of the Distinguished Professor into the university's annual commencement ceremonies. However, Nance is unable to take part in this weekend's ceremonies because he'll be out of the country conducting research and attending a former student's wedding.
The Distinguished Professor Award is presented annually by Ohio University's president, based upon the recommendations of a committee made up of former honorees.
Past honorees David Drabold (2005) and Gar Rothwell (2004) co-chaired the Distinguished Professor Committee this year.
"The committee very enthusiastically put forth Damian's name to President McDavis," Rothwell said. "He has an extremely distinctive and productive record of scholarly accomplishments."
Rothwell said the committee receives about a dozen nominations each year. For each nominee, a dossier of information akin to that presented to tenure committees is considered. The committee reviews evidence of each nominee's scholarly and/or creative activities, supporting materials such as publications and recognition, and letters of support from professional colleagues.
The letters of support received from around the globe on Nance's behalf were particularly noteworthy. "It is quite evident that he is extremely highly thought of nationally as well as internationally within his discipline," Rothwell said.
Ohio University established the Distinguished Professor Award in 1959, and 47 faculty members, representing a wide range of disciplines, have earned the distinction. More than 15 honorees remain among the university's active faculty.
As the 2008 Distinguished Professor, Nance will deliver a keynote address at the university's Founders Day celebration next winter quarter. A formal portrait of Nance will be displayed in the Friends of the Library Room in Alden Library. The portrait of 2007 Distinguished Professor Mark Phillips was unveiled June 5.
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