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Languages and literature professor receives Distinguished Service Award

May 13, 2002

The highest honor bestowed by the University, the Distinguished Service Award has been presented to only a handful of dignitaries in the University's 75-year history. Recipients include former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, who now serves as vice president of the United States, Gen. Binford (Binnie) Peay, former commander of the 101st Airborne Division, and Brig. Gen. Wendell Gilbert, now Tennessee commissioner for veterans affairs and deputy to the governor for homeland security.

Alumnus Wayne Pace received the award in 1997, when he was vice president of Turner Broadcasting Systems. Today, he is executive vice president and chief financial officer for AOL Time Warner, an international telecommunication and media conglomerate.

With bestowal of the award being a rare event, it is extraordinary that the University conferred not one but two Distinguished Service Awards at Friday's Spring Commencement Ceremony: Professor Jim Clemmer and Gen. John Keane.

In presenting the award to Clemmer, a member of the languages and literature department and a 35-year veteran of the Austin Peay faculty, Dr. Sherry Hoppe praised his insight and tenacity. "This University would not be as far along, technologically, as it is today were it not for Professor Clemmer's vision and persistence."

Clemmer was one of the first faculty members to recognize the potential of the personal computer for teaching enhancement. He also created the University's first computer lab from used computers discarded by the College of Business and old tables from a chemistry lab in McCord.

When he learned his department was moving to Harned Hall, he began immediately to develop proposals for equipping four labs there. "When Harned opened in 1992, the labs were up and running and ready for students," Hoppe said.

A year later, Clemmer and a few other faculty formed the Academic Technology Council, a group dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of computing. In 1996, the Council proposed a comprehensive technology structure for the University, and the Technology Board was formed.

"As a board member, Professor Clemmer was a leader in promoting advances in technology to help the academic community," Hoppe said.

Clemmer was credited recently with almost single-handedly wrestling and mastering what Hoppe called "a mammoth project"-the planning, design and implementation of many of the "smart classrooms" across campus.

"In recognition of your lifetime achievements, particularly your selfless contributions and leadership in technology and academic computing at Austin Peay, I'm pleased to present to you the Distinguished Service Award," Hoppe said in making the presentation.

The second award went to Gen. John Keane, assistant chief of staff in the Army.