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The university honored its professors and researchers of the year with accolades last week


A quartet of professors and researchers at George Fox University have been honored with faculty achievement awards for the 2018-2019 school year.

In a press release last week, GFU announced that two teachers and researchers from the undergraduate and two from the graduate level would receive the awards.

Religious studies professor Sarita Gallagher and theater professor Rhett Luedtke were the teacher and researcher of the year at the undergraduate level. Daniel Kang, an associate professor of physical therapy, and Leah Payne, assistant professor of Christian studies at Portland Seminary, received the same honors at the graduate level.

Gallagher has been a professor at GFU for nine years and teaches a variety of courses that focus on religion and its history.

"I love George Fox's emphasis on serving the world with compassion and excellence in whatever profession you are in," she said in the release. "The greatest joy that I have as a professor is seeing my students grow and learn both in their professions and as followers of Christ."

Luedtke has been directing the theater department at GFU for 16 years, which includes 32 shows. He also developed the Big Bridge Theatre Consortium, which seeks to heal religious divides and tell stories on the stage that do just that.

"Given the rise in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and general xenophobia in our country over the past year, we felt called to commission new plays to foster dialogue on our campuses about religious diversity," Luedtke said in the release.

Kang brings a multidimensional skill in physical therapy to the table, providing classes in "pathophysiology, cardiopulmonary therapeutic, orthopedic (spine), pain science and administration classes," according to GFU. He specializes in the treatment of chronic diseases as well and works with Providence Health Systems on occasion.

His impact on students at GFU has earned him the honor.

"My accomplishment lies in the impact I am making in future therapists and, in turn, the ripple effect it has on the community," he said in the release. "It is not just my technical knowledge that I wish to share with our students. Rather, I strive to be a positive agent in shaping the character and motivation of future physical therapists."

Payne has had a hand in 10 articles and book chapters along with 11 juried papers. Her first book is titled "Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century." Her voice on religion, pop culture and other subjects makes her one of the more prominent individuals in the GFU community.

She also hosts a podcast, inserting herself into a medium that many students are interested in.

"I love getting to know my students and being a part of their lives as they make important decisions, explore who they are, and learn about the presence of God in their lives," Payne said in the release.

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