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Lander Laboratory Named in Honor of Longtime Educator

Retired Lander University biology professor Dr. Richard Fox, center, holds a plaque dedicating his former teaching lab at Lander in his honor. At left, Dr. Mike Runyan, chair of the Department of Biology; right, Dr. David Slimmer, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Dr. Richard Fox, of Greenwood, retired as professor of biology in 2008 ending his 31-year academic career at Lander University, but his name is permanently engraved, not just on the minds of his former students and former colleagues, but also on the laboratory where he did most of his teaching.

Faculty, staff and students in Lander's College of Science and Mathematics have named Fox's former lab on the second floor of the Science Facility in his honor. He was invited to campus recently and surprised with a bronze plaque mounted at the entrance to the lab. It reads: "The Richard S. Fox Ecology Laboratory, in recognition of his many contributions to the field of biology and to the education of hundreds of biologists."

He said the naming was unexpected adding, "I love it. I am very honored."

Dr. Mike Runyan, chair of Lander's biology department, said placing Fox's name on the lab is a great way to honor him. He described Fox as a great scientist who did a huge amount of work for the university. "He went out of his way to help students understand concepts and provide them a good learning experience."

Fox's specialty is invertebrate zoology and that was one of the many courses he taught, along with ecology; limnology, the study of inland waters; comparative anatomy and more. He was Lander's first ecologist and played an instrumental role in the establishment of the university's environmental science program.

In 1985, he received Lander's Distinguished Professor Award, which is given to a faculty member who demonstrates exemplary performance as a classroom teacher and scholar, and for service to the university and beyond.

His role in education reaches well beyond the Lander campus. He maintains a website on invertebrate anatomy that is accessed by students and academics in other states and around the world. He has also co-authored three books including the textbook Invertebrate Zoology and Seashore Animals of the Southeast, a field guide to marine invertebrates.

Runyan said Fox's Internet material and books have given Lander international recognition. For example, he told of going online recently to investigate possible course offerings for biology student Karen MacPherson, of Simpsonville, who will attend the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, next spring as part of Lander's Study Abroad Program. In his research, he discovered that the university recommended one of Fox's texts on the subject of marine biology.

In addition to his academic contributions as an educator, Fox is providing financial assistance to students in the form of a Lander scholarship he created in 2006 in memory of his mother. The Jane Farmer Fox Scholarship is a four-year scholarship awarded to outstanding biology majors.

In an interview on the occasion of his retirement, Fox was asked to cite his greatest satisfaction at Lander. He replied, "Watching and helping very young freshmen develop into intellectually sophisticated young scientists."