Jack A. Cranford, of Blacksburg, associate professor and assistant department head of the Department of Biology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, received the university’s 2004 Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising.
Established in 1989 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the award is presented each year to a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding advisement of undergraduates. The selection is made by a committee of faculty who are members of the Academy of Advising Excellence, as well as representatives from the Academy of Teaching Excellence and the Alumni Association.
Cranford has been conducting mammalian biology research, teaching, and advising at Virginia Tech since 1977. As an adviser, he has gained the respect and admiration of students and faculty alike. He believes in the railroad sign’s STOP LOOK LISTEN philosophy of advising: stop everything else to focus on the student with a problem, look carefully at the student’s body language and materials brought for him to read, and listen to the student and be sure the student is listening to him. He spends hours outside his regular office hours helping students find their way through academia and into their most suitable careers.
Cranford is known for quickly identifying students with learning disabilities or other disadvantages and works with them not only to help them understand the material in his class, but to get them the help they need on campus to succeed in college, according to Robert Jones, department head, and Arthur Buikema Jr., chair of the Faculty Recognition Committee.
With proper permission, Cranford also helps "bridge the gap between parent and child who are dealing with serious issues" and who "need to know that the university takes the welfare of the student seriously and that many resources are available to assist in getting issues resolved," Cranford wrote in a statement of his advising philosophy included in the nomination packet.
Cranford believes one-on-one, face-to-face advising is the only way to earn students’ trust and respect. "Advising," Cranford said, "is perhaps the highest duty under our motto: Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)."
A native of San Mateo, Calif., Cranford received a bachelor's in biology and a master's in zoology from San Francisco State College and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Utah. He held a postdoctoral NSF scholarship at the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University. He holds life memberships in the American Society of Mammalogists, Sigma Xi, the Ecological Society of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion, and has held membership in the International Hibernation Society, the British Ecological Society, the National Geographic Society, and the Virginia Academy of Science.
The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college is dedicated to fostering a research intensive environment and offers programs in nano-scale and biological sciences, information theory and science, and supports research centers—in areas such as biomedical and public health sciences, and critical technology and applied science—that encompass other colleges at the university. The College of Science also houses programs in pre-medicine and scientific law.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.