ISSUED: 14 September 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Dr. Jeff Groff, chair of Shepherd University’s Department of Environmental and Physical Sciences, has been named the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia 2019 Professor of the Year. The Foundation made the announcement via letter after its annual spring banquet had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the highest professional honor of my life, and the honor needs to be shared with my colleagues, family, and friends who supported me, and the students who inspired and challenged me,” Groff said. “I’d like to thank the board of the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia for this honor and the work they do to recognize the many outstanding faculty in our state. I’d also like to recognize the other four finalists whose achievements were truly humbling.”
Other 2019 finalists included Dr. Tesfaye Belay, professor of biology, Bluefield State College; Dr. Yi Charlie Chen, professor of biology, Alderson Broaddus University; Dr. Peter Ward, professor of anatomy, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine; and Dr. Matthew Zdilla, associate professor of biology and physician assistant studies, West Liberty University.
Since joining Shepherd’s faculty in 2009, Groff has taught lecture and laboratory components of introductory and advanced physics as well as environmental studies courses for both science and non-science majors. He has been tenured and performing under the associate professor rank since the fall of 2015.
“We are extremely proud of Jeff and the continued external recognition Shepherd faculty have received from the Faculty Merit Foundation for their outstanding achievements inside the classroom, in their profession, and contributions to the greater community,” said Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, Shepherd president. “This is a continuing tribute to our talented and dedicated faculty.”
Pointing to Groff’s work with Shepherd’s Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm, research with bees, and solar projects, Hendrix said Groff is not only an outstanding scholar, mentor, and teacher, but also someone who strives to make a difference in the world.
“His work demonstrates his commitment to the Shepherd community and beyond,” Hendrix said. “Especially noteworthy are his efforts to integrate project-based learning into his classes, emphasizing the transformative power of education, coupled with a focus on growth and connection to the world around us.”
Groff incorporates field experience and in-person mentoring into his classes, while also trying to harness the power of technology to deliver content and to teach more effectively and efficiently.
“Jeff has consistently worked to bring new technologies and methods to his courses,” said Dr. Robert Warburton, dean, College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. “Students need to be able to collect data and then interpret that data. Being able to import data from various sources, such as from electronic sensors or satellite images, and then carrying out analysis allows the student to understand the environmental impact of human activity. An example of this is Jeff’s recent work where he brought to the classroom the techniques gained while on his recent sabbatical for the study of bees, an essential part of both our ecological and commercial world.”
Warburton said Groff has also spent many hours working with students as they complete their capstone projects in preparation for graduation and the next stage of their career.
“We are honored by the continued recognition of our stellar faculty by the Faculty Merit Foundation,” said Dr. Scott Beard, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Shepherd has had numerous finalists and winners through the decades, and Jeff’s Professor of the Year designation substantiates his commitment to transformative educational experiences that build growth in our students, positively impact the communities we serve, and promote higher education as a catalyst for positive change in the world. We could not be more proud.”
Groff has been published in a wide variety of education-based and scientific journals, including The Physics Educator, American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Biophysical Journal, and the Journal of Computational Neuroscience. He has been awarded numerous research grants and is a frequent presenter, lecturer, guest speaker and panelist, both regionally and nationally.
In addition to the 2019 Professor of the Year honor, Groff has been presented with Shepherd University’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2017 and the McDaniel College Scholar Alumni Award in 2013. In 2016, he was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He also maintains several professional affiliations, including the American Association of Physics Teachers, where he is past-chair of the Committee on Educational Technology; the Eastern Apicultural Society; and the West Virginia Eastern Panhandle Beekeepers Association.
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