May 16, 2006

Preece named top undergraduate educator

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- John E. Preece, professor of horticulture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the American Society for Horticultural Science's outstanding undergraduate educator of the year.

He will receive the award during the group's annual meeting July 27-30 in New Orleans, La. The society is a 103-year-old association for faculty, researchers and industry professionals.

"They consider it a career award — you can only win it once," said Preece, a member of the society since 1975.

"I was selected as the best horticulture teacher in the nation. It's a pretty big deal."

Preece, along with Paul E. Read of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the author of what Preece has been told is the field's best-selling introductory textbook, "The Biology of Horticulture."

"We published the second edition in 2005, and I think that probably had a lot to do with me winning the prize," Preece said. "It's used by most of the top universities in the country."

An SIUC faculty member since 1980, Preece teaches general horticulture, plant propagation, and plant growth and development. He is a four-time winner of the SIUC Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems teaching award and is a two-time recipient of the College of Agricultural Sciences award for outstanding teaching. The National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture also honored him for teaching excellence.

He earned his undergraduate degree in 1974 from the University of New Hampshire and his master's and doctoral degrees in 1977 and 1980 respectively from the University of Minnesota.

Celebrating faculty excellence is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.