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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, June 14, 2024
The Echo
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Spring awards announced

Taylor honors students, faculty

Annually, Taylor university honors senior student achievement through the announcement of department, service and speciality awards. Additionally, two faculty members are honored for their service to the university through the Burnworth Teaching Award and the Distinguished Professor Award. 

As covered in the April 25 edition of The Echo, senior awards are taking a different format this year. While previously announced in Honors Chapel on the last Monday chapel of the semester, The Echo has partnered with campus leadership to announce them in print. 

Senior Awards are one of the various distinctions and celebrations hosted for outgoing seniors in the week leading up to graduation. Many departments hold individual banquets and senior shows for their graduates, along with the distinctions of the awards. They are generally chosen through factors like department faculty and student input, GPA and accomplishments while at Taylor.

Different departments have different ways of celebrating, along with different numbers of awards. 

The English Department has one “Writer of the Year” award, along with a senior showcase of three English senior projects, voted on by the senior cohort.

English creative writing senior Abbey Chandler looks forward to the events and the opportunity to celebrate with her friends and faculty across their departments. 

“It’s a cool way to acknowledge all the work we’ve put in over the last four years,” Chandler said. “I love seeing all of the things my friends have worked on and created, and it’s a special time to celebrate everyone as we wrap up our last year.” 

The Film & Media Department holds a variety of awards for students of all years, with one Academic Excellence award that is senior-specific for the student with the highest GPA. 

For Department Co-Chair and Associate Professor of Art, Film and Media Kathy Bruner, senior awards are a good time to bring the department together one last time.

“Awards are an opportunity for us to recognize outstanding contributions to the program,” Bruner said. “Since we present them with freshmen, sophomores and juniors present, they also serve to provide inspiration to younger students.” 

Along with the names being published in The Echo, the Art, Film and Media Department holds an annual senior show where graduates have tables displaying their work and achievements at Taylor throughout the years. They also show their demo reel and are presented with the awards in person. 

Junior Tessa D’Souza, cybersecurity major, appreciates seeing what people in different majors achieve, and the space the awards give to acknowledge them. 

“They spent their time at Taylor working hard and mentoring us,” D’Souza said. “And this gives an opportunity for us to acknowledge them and send them out.”

Underclassmen are also involved in events like the Christian Ministry Senior Banquet, which is held earlier in the semester. The event is planned by the junior Christian Ministry students and everyone in the department is invited. There, an award is given to the best in the major. 

Department chairs for larger departments, like Phil Collins of the Biblical Studies, Chrisitan Ministry and Philosophy Department, oversee a diverse range of awards for their different majors. 

Department awards for the BSCMP department range from a Greek Award, to the student with the highest collective GPA in the study, to an “Excellence in Philosophy” award given to a student chosen by professors who they best feel represents the traits they are seeking to cultivate. 

Collins is part of the selection process for the Youth Ministry award, given to a student that meets a variety of requirements, including a selection process by their peers. After Taylor chooses their candidate, it is ratified by a third party board. 

“It’s a privilege to bestow (the award) upon the student that receives it,” Collins said. “It’s an honor that speaks to (their) commitment to excellence and professionalism.” 

The ability to honor and recognize seniors one last time, regardless of awards, is a celebration that spans all departments at Taylor. 

Additionally, two faculty received commendations. Phil Grabowski, assistant professor of sustainable development, was awarded the Burnworth Teaching award, named after the late Joe Burnworth. This award comes with a $2,000 check and is given to a faculty member who has shown teaching excellence in their first five years of teaching. 

The Distinguished Professor Award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates a variety of attributes and has been teaching at Taylor for a minimum of ten years. The awardee is chosen by a committee of alumni council members, student leaders, faculty and staff. The 2022 award was presented to Matt Renfrow, professor of kinesiology. 

“It’s just a real blessing to be here,” Renfrow said. “I love you guys. My students, my colleagues. I’m in an incredible department with a bunch of fantastic professors … most of the good stuff I do I’ve taken from them, so thanks y’all.”