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Teets takes Drane Award

Last summer, Billy Teets spearheaded the effort to renovate the atrium in APSU's Sundquist Science Complex—one of many reasons he received the coveted Drane Award during APSU's Winter Commencement exercises.

The William McClure Drane award is conferred at winter and spring graduations to an outstanding member of the graduating class as chosen by the faculty on the bases of character, scholarship, leadership and service to the University.

The son of William and Cheryl Teets, Clarksville, Teets graduated with a major in physics, a double minor in math and astronomy and an overall 3.8 GPA.

According to Dr. Spencer Buckner, associate professor of physics, Teets took the lead on the renovation of the atrium. To make the atrium more attractive and interesting, he got other students to help him develop and maintain a new saltwater aquarium, freshwater aquarium and reptile aquarium.

Dr. Jaime Taylor, chair of the department of physics and astronomy, said, “Billy is the one who comes to me, making suggestions on what he can do to make APSU a better place.

“No one even mentioned the aquariums to him. One day, he told me he would like to turn the aquariums into something nice for the University. Next thing I know, he has a meeting set up with the chair of the biology department and has written a letter to the other science chairs, asking for support.”

Buckner agrees Teet's efforts are due to his enthusiasm for APSU, especially for the science departments. Buckner said, “Billy wants other students who come to the Sundquist Science Complex to get excited about science as well.”

Teets attended APSU on an Academic Scholarship and a University Academic Honors Scholarship. He also received the Alliance of Transylvanian Saxons Scholarship, Byrd TSAC Scholarship and the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship.

According to Buckner, although Teets was required to work six hours a week as a scholarship student, he regularly worked more than 20 hours per week. Buckner said, “He helps out with all the astronomy-observing nights. In three years, he missed only one observing night.”

Teets not only helped maintain the finished planetarium, he played a pivotal role before it opened. Buckner said, “Billy did the original alignment and calibration of the planetary positions, which took many hours of work in the darkened planetarium.”

Having served as treasurer and vice president of Del Square Psi Physics and Astronomy Club, this consistent Dean's List Scholar was awarded the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) in Summer 2003, working at East Tennessee State University and traveling to use a special telescope in New Mexico.

The research he did through SARA won first place among student presentations at the Tennessee Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Teets also made a poster presentation at the 2004 American Astronomical Society meeting in Atlanta.

At Adventure Science Center, Teets was a volunteer at Astronomy Day and Chemistry Day. He served as both a planetarium presenter as well as a physics-demonstration presenter during the department's outreach to local schools, and he worked as a volunteer for ExpOlympics.

Teets, who was a key organizer of the highly successful “Mars Madness” and “Lunar Lunacy,” built a binocular telescope for the department of physics and astronomy. “We didn't ask him to do it,” Buckner said. “He asked us if he could do it. The astronomy program at Austin Peay would not have been as successful as it has been without the help of Billy Teets.”

Taylor echoed the same sentiments: “Billy is the quiet student leader in the department. Being the leader is not a role he chose; he is just a natural leader, an individual others respect and want to follow. He has made the department a fun and comfortable place to hang out.”

Other students nominated for the Drane Award were Amy Archer, Amy Arnold, Joanna (Joey) Grisham and Mary R. Lee.
¬¬—Dennie Burke