Faculty Members Received Emeritus Titles from Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
January 1, 2023
During its most recent meeting the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors conferred the emeritus title on the following faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences:
Gary Downey, Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was recognized for his innovation and leadership as a scholar, teacher, and mentor in the field of science and technology studies. He co-founded the subdiscipline of engineering studies and the Making and Doing movement in the field. Author of five books and 55 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, he taught a wide variety of courses and chaired numerous master’s and Ph.D. student committees. Downey joined the Virginia Tech community in 1983. Among his honors were the William E. Wine Award in 2004 and Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award, the state’s highest honor for faculty, in 2011; he was elected president of the Society for the Social Studies of Science in 2012. Downey earned two bachelor’s degrees from Lehigh University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English, has made countless contributions to poetry, African American literature, and the international Black community. Her scholarship includes 21 books of poetry, hundreds of additional poems, 12 children’s books, seven edited books, eight books of nonfiction, and numerous uncollected pieces. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree by more than 30 colleges and universities and was named Woman of the Year by Ebony Magazine, Mademoiselle Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. Among her other honors are the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award, the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, the 50 Great African-American Women Award, and the N.A.A.C.P. Image Award. At Virginia Tech she was named the first Gloria D. Smith Professor of Black Studies. Giovanni earned her bachelor’s degree from Fisk University.
Amy Nelson, Associate Professor in the Department of History, pursued research and teaching focused on Soviet history, animal studies, and digital history. The author or co-author of two books and more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, she served as the Principal or Co-principal Investigator on grants researching Soviet history, digital humanities, and the use of technology in teaching and learning. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1992, Nelson taught both undergraduate and graduate courses; directed or served on numerous master’s and Ph.D. student committees; and was honored with eight college- and university-level teaching and advising awards, including the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award in 2015. Nelson earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Karen Swenson, Associate Professor in the Department of English, joined the Virginia Tech community in 1988 and engaged in scholarship focused on Old Norse, medieval, and Renaissance literature and mythology. She was the author of two books and many essays and gave frequent presentations based on her academic work. Swenson taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses ranging across the literature curriculum. She was an early adopter and innovator of online teaching and was honored with several awards for her work. She provided many years of distinguished service to the department, college, and university through dedicated service on numerous committees, including the personnel, admissions, and graduate committees. Swenson earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Portland State University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Cornell University.