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Graham H. Duncan Named 2024 Recipient of Lander’s Prestigious Alston Award

Graham Duncan receiving award
Lander University officials presented Graham Duncan, center, with the University’s prestigious Mary Frances Poole Alston Award for 2024. From left are Joe Greenthal, vice president for Finance and Administration; Robyn Hoffman, vice president for University Advancement; Dr. Richard Cosentino, Lander president; Dr. Amanda Darden, vice president for Student Experience and Quality Assurance, and Adam Taylor, vice president for Strategic Initiatives in Lander’s Office of the President.

Lander University has selected Graham H. Duncan, whose “dedication to excellence is evident in every aspect of his work,” as the 2024 recipient of the prestigious Mary Frances Poole Alston Award.

Duncan, a staff writer and project coordinator for Lander’s Office of University Relations and Office of Governmental Relations, is also an English instructor at the University.

In the nomination letter for the award, Duncan was cited for his “outstanding demonstration of professionalism and in bringing visibility to Lander on a global scale” by Megan Varner Price, Lander’s assistant vice president for University Relations and Publications.

The Alston Award was established by Rowland P. Alston, a longtime host of the SCETV, Emmy Award-winning show, “Making It Grow,” in memory of his grandmother, a 1914 Lander graduate. The award, which includes a $1,000 honorarium, recognizes a faculty or staff member who has made an impact on the University and the extended community.

“Graham’s dedication to excellence is evident in every aspect of his work, from writing and creative input to strategic contributions with both the University Relations and President’s offices,” Price said. “One of his most commendable qualities is his leadership, which has fostered meaningful relationships with colleagues and peers – not just at Lander, but at other institutions across this state and beyond.”

Duncan, who described the award “as a great honor,” said, “As a Lander alum, and now employee, I enjoy coming to work every day, and making an investment into this University that has made such an investment in me, by giving me a rewarding education and now a career.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Lander in 2017 and a master’s degree in English from Converse College in 2020, and was a graduate of Lander’s Kauffmann Leadership Institute in 2023.

His teaching has included courses in Writing and Inquiry, Introduction to Literature, Studies in American Literature and PR Communications. He has given national presentations on topics covering creative writing, literature, rhetoric and teaching, and his poetry has been published in journals and publications.

In his service to the University, Duncan has served on the Lander University Staff Senate for which he was chair in 2022. He has been a co-leader for Lander study tours, was campus advisor for the inaugural year of the True Crime Club and has served as co-editor of the Lander Magazine.

His community service includes the post of commissioner for the Joint Planning Commission of Greenwood County. He was vice chair in 2023 and chair for 2024.

His commitment to his career and community are “opportunities to serve – whether it’s my church, my community, or here at Lander. It’s also an opportunity to continue my own education, while making meaningful connections with colleagues, neighbors, students and fellow alumni,” he said.

While formal classroom learning might conclude with a college diploma, Duncan said, “A liberal arts education never really ‘ends.’ There is room for personal and professional growth inside each project, each committee, each course I teach, each interview I give, and each story I write. Being a lifelong learner, without a doubt, is the most important lesson I learned at Lander.”

Duncan was named the 2024 Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year for Lander’s College of Arts and Humanities. He also earned Lander’s Staff Excellence Award in 2021 and the Margaret M. Bryant Award from the College of Arts and Humanities in 2017. The Commonwealth of Kentucky commissioned Duncan a Kentucky Colonel in 2021 for his commitment to community service and volunteerism.

“Graham is truly a role model whose work, dedication and leadership make him highly deserving of the Alston Award,” Price said. “His efforts have not only elevated our University but have also set a benchmark for professionalism that others aspire to achieve.”