Drs. Thomas Bryant and Patrick Gray are recipients of Rhodes’ highest faculty honors for outstanding teaching and research presented April 26 at the annual Rhodes College Awards Convocation held on campus. Also at the ceremony, departmental and service awards were presented to outstanding students, and special scholarship and internship award winners were acknowledged.
Bryant, an associate professor in the Department of Music, received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching. Gray, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research. The awards, first given in 1981, were established by businessman and Rhodes alumnus Clarence Day and are provided by the Day Foundation. Dr. Michael R. Drompp, dean of the faculty, was joined by two of the foundation’s trustees in presenting the awards.
The Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching is given to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the previous three years as determined by the assessments of students and colleagues, the effective use of imaginative and creative pedagogy, and motivating students to embrace a life of continuing study.
Since joining Rhodes in 1987, Bryant has taught piano, music literature and theory courses as well as earned an impressive reputation as both a solo pianist and an artistic collaborative pianist.
“Professor Bryant is known by his students and faculty colleagues as a generous, compassionate, and encouraging teacher who cares deeply about his students,” said Drompp in presenting the award and reading comments from Bryant’s nominators.
On individual wrote, “His ability to connect with students is truly superior,” and another echoed, “Absolutely no one is better at transmitting enthusiasm for a subject to students.”
In addition, Bryant is a mentor in Rhodes’ Teaching Mentorship Program for beginning tenure-track faculty. To sum up Bryant’s accomplishments, one individual wrote, “His work at the piano and in his studio is simply first rate….His teaching is demonstrative of piano and music pedagogy at the highest level….He is an exceptional teacher and colleague, and a highly valued and respected member of the department.”
Bryant holds degrees from University of Georgia and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
The Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity is presented to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated that research and/or creative activity is an integral part of his or her vocation and who has published or performed outstanding works over the previous three years that have gained scholarly recognition or critical acclaim.
Gray joined the Rhodes faculty in 2002 and has maintained an ambitious research agenda that focuses on Biblical studies, specifically the history and literature of early Christianity and the Greco-Roman context.
In the past five years, he has published or received contracts with prestigious academic presses for five books including Scripture and Traditions: Essays on Early Judaism and Christianity and Teaching the Bible Through Popular Culture and the Arts. In addition, he has more than a dozen scholarly articles and over 30 book reviews, and he has been active in presenting his research at various scholarly conferences and symposia.
“It is not only Professor Gray’s dedication to his scholarship, but also his dedication to effective teaching that drives this impressive record of achievement,” said Drompp in presenting him with award.
One of Gray’s nominators wrote that his ability to incorporate his research into the classroom also enriches his ability to teach clearly and effectively.
Gray’s most recent book is Opening Paul’s Letters: A Reader’s Guide to Genre and Interpretation, which was published in 2012. He holds degrees from Oglethorpe University and Emory University.