In 1968, a young graduate student at Ohio University was asked to lend his expertise to write a section for a textbook titled "An Introduction to Physical Science." Little did he know that four decades later he would be receiving an award, as a co-author, commemorating the book's longevity.
The student, Lander University physics professor emeritus Dr. Jerry Wilson, along with co-author Charles Higgins, was presented the 2009 McGuffey Longevity award for "An Introduction to Physical Science" at the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) conference in June in San Antonio, Texas.
The book covers five areas of physical science: physics, chemistry, astronomy, meteorology and geology. The McGuffey Award recognizes "textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time." Wilson has written or updated every section of the book, now in its 12th edition, at one time or another.
This task, according to Wilson, is always on his mind.
"The project keeps me active," said Wilson. "I get between eight and 10 science and news magazines, and I get three newspapers a day. When I come across something that might be good for the next addition I tear the page out and file it away until I'm ready to work on the next edition."
Wilson said that these updates can include anything from the naming of a newly discovered element to astronomy findings.
"For instance," said Wilson, "in the newest edition we handled the demotion of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. However, shortly after we published this edition Pluto was reclassified as a plutoid - a new classification."
Wilson added that there will now be an astronomy update supplementing the text since the field of astronomy changes so rapidly.
Including his work on "An Introduction to Physical Science," Wilson has had eight textbook titles, with a total of 33 editions, used in classrooms throughout the world, some having been translated into Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Korean.
For more than 25 years, Wilson has written a weekly newspaper column, "The Curiosity Corner," originally called "The Science Corner." He, with his wife Sandra, has established the Jerry D. Wilson Excellence in Science Scholarship, which annually funds two full-tuition scholarships in science and mathematics at Lander.