Posted by William Nunnelley on 2000-09-01

An educator, scientist, environmentalist and community activist has received this year's John H. Buchanan Award for Teaching Excellence Award at Samford University.

Samford biology professor Dr. Paul D. Blanchard received the award during the university's semester-opening convocation Tuesday (AUG. 29). The honoree is chosen by vote of the previous spring's graduating seniors.

The award, which honors the late John H. Buchanan, longtime pastor of Southside Baptist Church and a Samford trustee, carries with it a silver tray and a $1,000 check.

Blanchard, a Samford faculty member since 1990, teaches undergraduate courses in cellular biology and environmental science, and is founder/co-director of Samford's graduate program in environmental management.

One student nominator noted that Blanchard "had no office hours," said Samford acting provost Dr. Joe O. Lewis in presenting the award. The nominator went on to explain that students were free to meet with Blanchard at any time, said Lewis.

A continuous refrain of praise for Blanchard's interest in, concern for and involvement with students resonated throughout all the letters of nomination, said Lewis. "They speak effusively about the recipient's competence in the discipline and effectiveness in encouraging students to continue graduate level study."

A pioneer in the use of Geographical Information Systems, Blanchard is co-director of the Environmental GIS program at Samford. This summer, he led an in-country workshop in Kenya to train members of Nairobi Polytechnic and other Kenyan researchers on the application of GIS to land planning and scientific issues.

Long interested in the co-existence of science and public policy, Blanchard is not shy about community involvement. He led the way to have the vermilion darter listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species list, an action which prevented the construction of a proposed county jail in Pinson. He is science advisor to the Jefferson County Turkey Creek Watershed Committee, and has received a two-year grant to research the watershed and vermilion darter habitat in north Jefferson County.

His goal, says Blanchard, is to improve the area's water quality and establish a several-hundred acre nature preserve.

He is a past president of the Alabama Microscopy Society.

A New York native and graduate of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., Blanchard earned master's degrees in business and public administration while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. He earned a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

During a 20-year Air Force career, he taught in the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery during 1978-84.

He and his wife Barbara, who live in Vestavia Hills, attend Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. They are the parents of two grown children.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.