FLORENCE – Kenneth M. Autrey of Columbia has been selected the J. Lorin Mason Distinguished Professor for the 2009-10 year at Francis Marion University.
Announced at a campus banquet April 22, this award has been given since the 1975-76 school year and is based upon a faculty member’s contributions to teaching, professional service and scholarly activities.
The award, named in honor of the former chairman of the FMU Board of Trustees, is the highest honor to be bestowed upon a faculty member. It will be presented at FMU’s spring commencement Saturday, May 8. The award carries a cash prize.
As a result of his selection, Autrey will be the Francis Marion University nominee for the Governor’s Professor of the Year Award competition next fall.
“This award is given annually to a member of the faculty with exceptional devotion to the students and a steadfast commitment to the university’s mission of teaching, research and service. Ken has been an extraordinary teacher and scholar at this university for more than two decades,” said FMU President Luther F. Carter. “He has earned our respect and admiration and is richly deserving of this recognition.”
Autrey was born in Wilkes Barre, Pa., but was reared in Auburn, Ala. His mother was a homemaker while his father was a college professor in Auburn University’s School of Agriculture. Autrey’s father also led faculty governance initiatives serving as president of the faculty senate at Auburn University.
After graduating high school, Autrey attended Davidson College where he earned the B.A. degree in English in 1967. It was then that he served for two years as a Peace Corps English teacher in Ghana, West Africa. Subsequently, he taught in upstate New York middle and junior high schools.
Autrey has been a member of the FMU faculty since 1989. Prior to coming to FMU, he taught at the University of South Carolina and Tougaloo College. In 1996-97, he was a visiting professor at Hiroshima University in Japan while on leave from FMU.
He earned the M.A. degree in English from Auburn University in 1973 and the Ph.D. degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 1986.
He is the former chair of the FMU Faculty and teaches courses in composition, poetry writing and literary nonfiction. He has published articles and chapters on the teaching of writing and on contemporary poets. His poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies.
Autrey and his wife, the former Janne Weir Debes, have two daughters: Tess Autrey Bosher of Richmond, Va., and Nell Autrey Driggers of Ocean Springs, Miss. Autrey has five grandchildren.