New Professorship, Faculty Promotions

Image for post
From left to right: Dr. Richard Gardner, Dr. Lora Knight, and Dr. John M. Armstrong

Last month Southern Virginia University awarded a named professorship to one faculty member and promoted three to the rank of associate professor.

At the annual University Conference, Acting President Richard G. Whitehead announced the appointment of Dr. John M. Armstrong as the Willis J. Smith Professor of Philosophy. The professorship is made possible by former Southern Virginia president Rodney K. Smith, who named it in honor of his father, Willis J. Smith.

Professorships are set aside for senior professors who are outstanding scholars, teachers and citizens, providing them with additional salary.

Armstrong has served as a member of the faculty at Southern Virginia since 1998 and founded the university’s philosophy program in 2002. He is the associate provost and has served as coordinator of institutional accreditation and as the division of humanities chair. Additionally, he was recently elected president of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities — an organization that promotes intellectual and collegial exchange among Latter-day Saint humanities scholars.

He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brigham Young University and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arizona. He wrote his dissertation under the direction of Dr. Julia Annas on the moral and political philosophy of Plato’s “Laws.”

“When I was a boy, my father read philosophy books to me,” said Rodney K. Smith. “So when I decided to fund a professorship in his name, I thought that a philosophy professorship would be especially fitting.”

Additionally, Provost Madison U. Sowell last week announced three faculty advancements in rank to associate professor: Richard Gardner, biology; Lora Knight, history; and Robert Stoddard, theatre.

“We are pleased to recognize these outstanding faculty members for their many and varied contributions.” said Provost Sowell. “They exemplify the concept of the leader-servant. I am honored to work alongside such dedicated teachers.”