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Shepherd professor is honored by state

March 08, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - During her 20 years of teaching English at Shepherd University, Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt has strived to make her subject matter come alive.

The Shepherd professor developed the Writer-in-Residence project, in which distinguished contemporary Appalachian writers come to the university in the fall and stay a week.

Shurbutt also has established the Prominence-of-Place study program, where Shepherd students visit places abroad such as Florence and Rome, where great writers lived or were inspired.

Shurbutt said she believes the trips "make literature come to life" for students.

Shurbutt's extraordinary work at Shepherd has earned her the West Virginia Professor of the Year award, which was given to the Jefferson County resident Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va.

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The award, which was presented to Shurbutt at the Cultural Center, comes from the Faculty Merit Foundation, which was started in 1985 to reward excellence in higher education in the state.

Candidates are nominated by their students and fellow teachers in the fall, and the board of directors of the foundation meets in December to begin screening applicants.

Final candidates are interviewed by the board in January, according to a press release from Shepherd University.

Shurbutt, who received $10,000 and a handmade glass trophy for winning the contest, received her doctorate in 19th-century British literature and linguistics from the University of Georgia, a master's in American literature from Georgia Southern University and a bachelor's in English from West Georgia College.

Shurbutt, who lives near Morgan's Grove Park just outside Shepherdstown, said Shepherd is a great place to teach because instructors are free to be creative with their approach.

Shurbutt said instructors at Shepherd also are highly gifted.

"Any one of the full-time faculty could have been selected for this," Shurbutt said.

Shurbutt is the second Shepherd professor to win the award. Linda Tate from the school's department of English and modern languages received the award in 2004.

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