Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA Gala to honor outstanding faculty members

November 29, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant and Dr. Kevin Langford
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Two outstanding Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members will be honored during the 28th annual SFA Gala Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom.

Faculty member awards presented during the Gala recognize innovation and excellence in teaching and research. Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant, professor in SFA's School of Social Work and director of the Master of Social Work program, is the recipient of the 2016 Faculty Achievement Award for Research. Dr. Kevin Langford, SFA associate professor of biology and the director for the university's pre-health professions program, is the recipient of the 2016 Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching.

Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant
Oliphant joined SFA's School of Social Work in 2006. She currently serves as a professor of social work and director of the Masters of Social Work program. During the past several years, she has secured more than $1 million in grant funding for community development as well as assistance for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

According to Dr. Freddie L. Avant, director of the School of Social Work, Oliphant is an ideal recipient for this award because of her vast and innovative research contributions and the positive impact her research has had on the lives of people, especially those from the most vulnerable populations in society.

"She is very deserving of this award, having established a reputation as an outstanding researcher since arriving at SFA 10 years ago," Avant added. "In fact, she has emerged and engaged in research at a level that I and many of her peers would consider exceptional."

Oliphant received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She then graduated with a doctoral degree from the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1993.

She has served in a number of professional leadership roles and services. Currently, Oliphant serves on the Texas Evaluation Network board of directors and the Nacogdoches Area United Way board of directors.

Previously, Oliphant has held roles with the HIV Research and Partner Network Group hosted through the University of Texas at Tyler Medical Center, the South African National Research Foundation and the South African Council for Social Service Professions, among others. She also served two terms on the Council on Practice Methods and Specializations for the Council on Social Work Education, a national council for social work educators.

Most of Oliphant's research focuses on ways to improve the quality of life. She also has engaged in unfunded research in areas that are personally important to her.

"One of the most amazing examples is her research project in San Augustine County where she completed a community needs assessment over a three-year period," Avant said. "That study led to the creation of a community drug court and a one-stop service model that contributed to the funding of a $500,000 building."

Oliphant is the author or co-author of seven book chapters and 26 peer-reviewed journal articles, and has presented at 103 local, national and international conferences. She also has served as principal or co-investigator for 23 grants and research projects.

"Dr. Oliphant is an outstanding teacher, professional, mentor and colleague," said Laura Squiers, deputy executive director of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. "I have worked with Dr. Oliphant for more than a year on the Impact Lufkin initiative, which is a community revitalization effort that the foundation instigated and is funding. The research that Dr. Oliphant has collected has led to much-needed change and better outcomes for the community. She has brought a remarkable set of research skills to the Impact Lufkin project."

Dr. Kevin Langford
Langford began his educational relationship with SFA when he attended in the 1980s. He served as an undergraduate teaching assistant from 1985-86 and a graduate teaching assistant from 1987-89. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from SFA in 1987 and 1989, respectively, and went on to earn a doctoral degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Langford returned to SFA in 2002 as an assistant professor. He currently serves as the pre-health professions program director and as an associate professor of biology.

"Dr. Langford has taught at SFA for the last 14 years and has sustained a critical role in the teaching and mentoring of our students interested in pursuing careers in the health professions," said Dr. Stephen J. Mullin, professor in and chair of SFA's Department of Biology. "He enthusiastically connects with students about what it would take to succeed in their respective degree programs and encourages them to discover the best in themselves at SFA."

A member of three national and two state professional societies, Langford has authored or co-authored 17 articles in various journals and publications.

Civically, Langford participates in a number of community and state organizations, including the Nacogdoches Rotary Club, American Red Cross, Texas Association of Advisors of the Health Professions, Joint Admissions Medical Program and Texas Rural Health Association.

Langford teaches courses in human and cell biology, human physiology, vertebrate anatomy and human development, among others.

"Each summer, Dr. Langford directs SFA JAMP camp through funding from the Joint Admission Medical Program. He works carefully to mirror camp activities as closely as possible to the lifestyle of pre-med students who must successfully juggle rigorous coursework with other responsibilities that are crucial for successful entrance into medical school," said Dr. Josephine Taylor, SFA professor of biology. "These efforts are truly a labor of love with the goal of ensuring the best possible start to college for the young people under his mentorship. Dr. Langford is a passionate and dedicated teacher who puts the needs of his students first and foremost."

Under his tutelage, approximately 150 SFA graduates have successfully continued into the medical profession as medical or dental students, pharmacists, physical therapists and optometrists.

The Gala cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a candlelight dinner at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Blind Date, featuring seven of Austin's most accomplished musicians whose repertoire ranges from dance music to jazz, rock, country and hip hop.

Tickets are $175 for orchestra seating and $125 for ballroom seating. Proceeds from the Gala help build a permanent endowment created by the SFASU Foundation to honor faculty member achievement. For more information or to purchase tickets, call April Smith, associate director of development at SFA, at (936) 468-5406.