Ashland student wins Torch Award as FHSU's outstanding graduating senior

torch-pilot-navigator 2017

HAYS, Kan. - Giles Fox, Ashland, was named today as the recipient of the Torch Award as the outstanding graduating senior from the class of 2017 at Fort Hays State University.

He will receive a Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and mathematics at Commencement ceremonies beginning today at 6 p.m. in Gross Memorial Coliseum. Today's event is for graduates from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Peter Werth College of Science, Technology and Mathematics.

Commencement for the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the College of Education, and the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The announcement of the Torch Award came at the annual Graduate and Faculty Luncheon, sponsored by the FHSU Alumni Association. The Pilot Award for outstanding faculty member and the Navigator Award for outstanding faculty advisor were also announced. All three recipients will be recognized at Commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Stacey Smith, associate professor and chair of the Department of Applied Business Studies, was the Pilot Award recipient, and Dr. Cheryl Duffy, professor of English, was named the recipient of the Navigator Award.

Dr. Marcy Aycock, a 1984 FHSU graduate and a past president of the Alumni Association, introduced Fox, a 2012 graduate of Ashland High School. Fox was selected from 45 nominees.

Quoting from the nomination form for Fox, Aycock said, "Giles Fox is a natural leader. His presence in our Physics Department sets a fine example for our younger and older generation of students. He is well respected and sought for help in studying and problem solving sessions."

This nominator also said, "I believe Giles is in the top 5 percentile of all physics graduates that I have known in my 17 years teaching physics at Fort Hays State University."

Fox is a former pitcher and captain of the FHSU baseball team. He has tutored in both math and physics and is a member of the Sigma Pi Sigma and Phi Theta Kappa honor societies. He is also a member of the American Institute of Physics, the Society of Physics Students and the Physics and Engineering Club. An FHSU NASA Scholar, he has completed research on Doppler-free laser spectroscopy of rubidium atoms.

Aycock also introduced the Pilot Award winner. Quoting from one student's nomination of Smith, Aycock said, "One of the main reasons I chose to attend FHSU and work towards earning my B.S. in tourism and hospitality management is because of Dr. Smith and her impressive efforts to help her students grow."

The student continued, "She has trained us to become future leaders with the tourism industry and has provided us not just with the endless knowledge necessary to succeed, but also has instilled her passion for what we do that separates FHSU THM graduates from the rest of the field."

Smith has written several peer-reviewed journal articles and scholarly presentations and has served on a wide variety of university and community committees and boards, including the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, the Hays Public Library, and the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board.

In 2015, she was named Citizen of the Year by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and was a recipient of the FHSU Alumni Association's Young Alumni Award in 2010.

Introducing the winner of the Navigator Award for 2017 for outstanding academic advising, Vivian Agnew, vice president of the Student Government Association, said, "This year's recipient was noted for providing words of love and encouragement to struggling students and for making herself available not only to her assigned advisees, but other students who seek her counsel as well."

"Her nominator attributes the success of their undergraduate career to the consistent and readily available wisdom provided by this advisor," said Agnew, continuing, "and concludes the nomination by stating, 'During the last few years at Fort Hays State University she has not only become my favorite professor, but also a dear, dear friend.' "

The Navigator Award was created in 1998 to recognize an outstanding academic advisor based on how closely he or she adheres to the university goals for academic advising. Candidates are nominated, interviewed and selected by graduating seniors.

The Alumni Association instituted the Torch and Pilot awards in 1974 to emphasize the importance of excellence in teaching and learning. They are presented every year at the Graduate and Faculty Luncheon in advance of Commencement.

The Torch Award candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of classroom excellence, participation in professional organizations, and involvement in student or civic activities.

The Pilot Award is given on the basis of classroom excellence, ongoing research and service activities. Candidates are nominated by graduating seniors.

Nominations for the Navigator Award are also made by graduating seniors in a process conducted by the Student Government Association.

The Alumni Association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 63,000 graduates living throughout the United States and in more than 70 foreign countries. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 785-628-4430 or

From left, Dr. Cheryl Duffy, Giles Fox, and Dr. Stacey Smith.

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