BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The award is named in honor of a
long-time Tennessee Tech athletics administrator. This year it is
presented – fittingly – to a faculty member from
Andrew Smith of Tennessee Tech and Betty Wiseman of Belmont University have been named the winners of the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Thurston Banks Award for Distinguished Academic Service.
The award was established in 2013 to recognize individuals (e.g. academic advisor, professor, tutor, etc.), with at least five years of service at one or more OVC member institutions, for his or her outstanding contributions to OVC student-athletes’ academic success, learning and development as well for his or her overall commitment to the institution’s athletics program.
The award is named after Dr. Thurston Banks, who served the Tech Department of Athletics for 31 of his 34 years on the faculty and served as the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) for 25 years before stepping down in 2006. He was inducted into the OVC Hall of Fame in 2007.
Smith and Wiseman will be presented their awards during the 2014 OVC Basketball Championships, held March 5-8 in Nashville.
Smith is currently the faculty head of Tree House, which his TTU’s Environmental Learning Village and has been an instructor in English at Tennessee Tech since 2007, receiving tenured status in 2011. His teaching includes first-year writing and American Literature.
A member of the TTU Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, Smith is often seen at TTU athletic events on campus. He has worked with the Men’s Basketball Academic Progress Rate (APR) Improvement Group. His mentoring of the team helped lead to the program winning the 2011-12 Team Academic Achievement Award for having the highest percentage of student-athletes named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Last semester, the team posted the highest combined GPA in program history and placed 11 members on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
Smith has served as the campus chapter president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), worked with the University Service Committee, the faculty senate & administrative council and been a faculty advisor for both UNCLE (Underrepresented New and Creative Life Experiences) and SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition).
In 2010 he was awarded a QEP Award for Excellence for the Living
Writers Project, an award he previously earned in 2008 with Mr.
Mark Creter for their work on a Learning Community collaboration
involving students enrolled simultaneously in first-year writing
and Introduction to Theatre. He also works as the webzine editor of
Interference.com, contributes blogs to Sojo.net and hosts a podcast
called “Teacher on the Radio.”
“Tennessee Tech practices what a lot of other schools only preach in stressing strong academics among its student-athletes, and by being involved in the classroom I am able to see the outstanding efforts of these young men and women both in class and on the field or the court,” Smith said.
Wiseman is recently retired after spending 48 years at her alma mater, most recently as an Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA). Tenure her tenure she was a student, coach, professor and administrator as well as being an ambassador for the University.
In her role she served as a liaison between the Department of Athletics and Student Affairs, coordinating counseling, discipline and drug testing and also serving as an advisor to the Belmont Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She also worked with teams as they participated in service opportunities, including organizing and leading a yearly foreign mission trip to such places as Poland, Portugal, Brazil and Italy.
While at Belmont she was an Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education and was named a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Health and Human Performance in 2006. In 1986 she started the women’s basketball program at Belmont and would serve as the team’s head coach for 16 seasons, compiling a 248-152 record and leading the Bruins to four consecutive berths in the National Women’s Invitational Tournament.
In 1999, Wiseman was given the Josten-Berenson Service Award by
the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) during the NCAA
Women's Final Four to recognize her lifelong commitment to women's
basketball. Four years later, as the Curb Event Center opened,
Belmont honored her by naming part of the university's new athletic
facility the Striplin-Wiseman Athletic Office Complex. She is a
member of the Belmont and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, named a
Tennessee Sports Legend by The Tennessean newspaper and recognized
as a pioneer by the OVC in the league’s celebration of the
40th anniversary of Title IX.
The inaugural Thurston Banks Awards were presented to Austin Peay’s Dr. Bruce Myers and Eastern Illinois’ Dr. Gail Richard a year ago.