The College of Arts and Sciences held its second annual Alumni dinner in the UC Magnolia Room on Oct. 18 to honor VSU graduates.
The winner of the Outstanding Alumni award this year was John C. Robbins, an internationally known criminal defense lawyer.
The event was organized by Dr. Connie L. Richards, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. James LaPlant, associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Executive Committee, Department Heads, and the Directors of Programs which made up a total of 15 people.
There was an honoree for each department within the College of Arts that was chosen based on outstanding accomplishments within their profession, recognition within their organizations and philanthropy.
This year’s winner, John C. Robbins, was a philosophy major at VSU before attending Cumberland Law School at Sanford University. Robbins has practiced in Birmingham, Al. for the past 25 years and handled several high profile cases that have been covered in the New York Times and broadcasted on BBC, CNN and PBS. He is currently a professor at the Birmingham School of Law.
Like this year’s winner, other honorees were not able to attend the event.
This included the Biology Department’s honoree Dr. Michael Chiang, a skilled doctor and surgeon who couldn’t attend because he was taking the National Board’s exam in Neurology.
Navarro Moore, a native of Valdosta and recent political science graduate in 2006, is currently in Canberra, Australia doing work for the State Department Foreign Service. Moore received his masters at FSU in International Relations and his career has taken him to Bangkok, San Salvador and Washington D.C.
The Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Department honored Vernon M. Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation since 2004, who also often lectures at the F.B.I. Academy. Keenan has been in law enforcement for 40 years and could not attend Thursday because he was in Washington D.C. as Representative for Homeland Security of Georgia.
A couple of the honorees were able to find success in more creative fields.
Tim Lee Wright, a playwright who has written over 30 plays under the persona Winsphere Jones, was chosen as the Department of African American Studies’ honoree. Wright is the proprietor and founder of Real Drama Theatre in Macon, Ga. and his last three plays were produced and performed at the historic Douglas Theatre.
Wright showed his appreciation for the faculty that inspired him while attending VSU.
“I found here at Valdosta State University a place I called home, where Dr. Harding became my mother and Dr. Ari Santas became my father,” Wright said.
The English Department’s honoree was Jason Miczek, a freelance photographer whose photography has appeared in noticeable publications across the United States including Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.
“I really can’t thank VSU enough for what this university did for my life,” Miczek said. “I truly blossomed here.”
Miczek specifically thanked Dr. Patricia Miller for encouragement and opportunity and showed his appreciation for the Spectator, which was where he began his career in journalism.
Many Honorees were former faculty members of VSU.
Sherman Bloomberg began his career in the U.S. Army Chemical Corp before working in industry for most of his career. Bloomberg served as VSU’s First Environment Safety Officer between 1993 and 2004.
The History Department honored Dr. Joseph Tomberlin, a former professor and department head at VSU. Dr.Tomberlin conducted his Research in contemporary U.S. History.
Janice Lowe, a 1977 Graduate of VSC with thirty years of teaching experience, was recognized as the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science’s honoree. Lowe specifically thanked her advisor Joe Gore, noting him as the one that encouraged him to continue her graduate program.
The Modern and Classical Languages Department honored Dr. Sandra D. Walker. Dr. Walker served as head of Modern and Foreign Languages for 12 years and was named Professor of the Year in 2001.
At the beginning of the event, Dr. Richards specifically thanked Dr. Alfred F. Fuciarelli and his wife Dr. Sue Fuciarelli, along with Associate Dean James Laplant, VSU’s Chef Earnest Duncan, and Mark Mears before beginning a presentation that showed the Alumni what has changed in the College of Arts and Sciences in the last few years.
Dr. Richards feels that the event is also for the faculty, in addition to the Alumni.
“It was reaffirming that… the time that they take in the classroom and the energy that they give to their profession really pays off for students,” Dr. Richards said.
She also commented on why such an event is relevant to VSU students.
“I would hope that you would be inspired by… what other people who have graduated from VSU have done” Dr. Richards said.