This is the nomination letter I wrote in 2001 for the class of '39 award, which is one of the most presitigous awards Clemson offers. Jerry was the first one I thought of for this as he seems to perfectly exemplify the spirit of the class. And my judgement was clearly correct, as Cathy Sturkie was telling me yesterday that Jerry was always an exemplary member of the class. The most annoying thing about this letter as I recall is that it can not be more than 2 pages long, so I had to edit it over and over to get it down...
Class of ’39 Nomination: Jerry A. Waldvogel
It is my great pleasure to nominate Jerry Waldvogel for the class of ’39 award for excellence. Jerry is first and foremost a teacher who lives for the opportunity to kindle an intellectual spark in his students. He embodies, better than anyone else I know, the spirit of “overlapping circles of research and teaching” that President Barker emphasizes as a crucial part of Clemson’s mission. But Jerry is also a first class scientist, a tireless advocate of public science education and an active member of his community. In preparing this nomination, I talked to many of Jerry’s colleagues all over Clemson and not a single one had anything but high praise for this many contributions to Clemson. He is, in every way, a truly inspirational colleague and I can’t think of a better person to receive this prestigious award!
Jerry’s work is so integrated, it is sometimes difficult to categorize neatly. Nevertheless, I will try to outline some of his recent accomplishments relevant to the four criteria for the award:
Since coming to Clemson 12 years ago, Jerry has taught more than 4,500 students with a dedication that’s awe-inspiring to teachers all across campus! His teaching evaluations are consistently excellent and have garnered him much attention. On several occasions, I have attended his Honors Introduction to Biology class as a guest discussion leader and was extremely impressed: with his enthusiasm, his rapport with the students, and the great care with which the course was designed. I’ve taught Biology courses myself and have seen a great many more from the other side of the desk, but never before have I seen a course as carefully thought out as Jerry’s. He doesn’t just make them memorize scientific facts, he actually gets them to think like a scientist. Not only that, but students truly enjoy the innovative way he presents material, as when he comes to class in the persona of Darwin (regalia and all) for the introductory lecture on evolution!
Jerry is always willing to incorporate interdisciplinary approaches and new techniques in his teaching. For example, he is a campus leader in the use of service learning and was instrumental in the production of a service learning video. He was one of the first graduates of the new Rutland Center’s Ethics Across the Curriculum summer workshops, where he was a wonderfully thoughtful colleague, and he actively incorporates ethical reflection into his own classes. Finally, he has for many years been a mainstay of the Writing Across the Curriculum program and was featured in the Time Magazine article recognizing Clemson as the Public University of the Year.
As a scientist, Jerry is an active researcher, having authored many refereed publications in his area of ornithology and animal behavior. He is also a regular presenter at professional meetings and has reviewed professional submissions for literally dozens of journals, presses, and granting agencies. His reputation as a straightforward scientist is thus quite secure, but his real passion is for research in support of teaching. Here, he truly shines, having produced all sorts of materials from articles on teaching Biology to multimedia instructional CD’s, career guides, as well as laboratory manuals and textbook study guides.
Interrelations with the Student Body:
Students know and trust Jerry, and he reciprocates with his many activities on their behalf. He developed the widely-used (over 1,000 hits per month!) College Survival Skills web site and has developed and presented student workshops on time management and other good study habits. A former collegiate athlete himself, he also works closely with freshmen athletes here at Clemson to make the adjustment to college life easier. He serves tirelessly as PROACT advisor and member of the SAFE program. Finally, he coordinates the Biology Bowl portion of the Biology merit exam. These are all very time-consuming activities, but Jerry always puts the interests of students first.
Activities on behalf of the University:
Jerry has served on more committees, commissions, panels, and councils - at every level of the from department up to university - than I can count! Just to list a few, he chaired the ad hoc Committee to Promote the Clemson Experience and serves on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, The Search Committee for Academic Vice President and Provost and the Biodiversity Steering Committee.
As might be expected, he is always there when it comes to curricular improvement. He was instrumental in designing the new BIAE curriculum for the Agriculture and Education major and the new Environment/Natural Resources undergraduate major in CAFLS. Jerry is also a fixed feature in anything on campus having to do with the furtherance teaching, such as the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation workshops, etc.
Activities Benefiting the Local Community:
Jerry’s ceaseless efforts are not restricted to the University. He is simply passionate about science literacy and is involved in many projects to improve secondary education in that regard. For example, he coordinates a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes foundation to facilitate High School and Middle School participation in the Biology Merit Exam; designed new agriscience teaching modules for K-12 agricultural education instructors (along with providing in service workshops in their use) and gives regular science talks to inspire young children. He also serves as South Carolina co-director of the National Center for Science Education, and for many years sat on the Board of Directors of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). He helped review and revise the science standards for both the State of South Carolina and the National Science Foundation.
He is an active member of his community as well, serving on the board of the Clemson Montessori School PTO and as a member of the Department of Natural Resources Jocasse Gorges Outreach & Education Committee. I served with him as a judge for the Pickens/Oconee science fair and the care with which he approached even this simple volunteer activity was truly touching. Finally, Jerry regularly takes his Darwin show, for which he is justly famous, on the road - both into other classes here at Clemson and to other schools in the Carolinas (Duke, TCTC, Citadel, College of Charleston).
In summary, Jerry has been an exemplary teacher, scholar and member of the Clemson community. If anyone is qualified for the class of ’39 award for excellence, he is.