Two long-time professors who made their mark at West Virginia University by teaching thousands of students English and the art of dance will be inducted into the West Virginia University Order of Vandalia for their extraordinary service to the University during Commencement weekend May 12-13.
The 2007 honorees are: Sophia B. Blaydes, WVU English Department professor emerita, and Mary KathryneKacyWiedebusch, professor emerita in the WVU College of Creative Arts.
The Order of Vandalia is reserved for those who have demonstrated extraordinary service, loyalty and dedication to WVU ,said President David C. Hardesty, Jr.The two people being honored this spring truly embody the qualifications necessary to receive this honor. They are valued friends of the University who have given of their time and energy to make WVU an outstanding institution of higher learning.
Sophia B. Blaydes
Dr. Blaydes was a faculty member in WVU s Department of English for 34 years, retiring in 1999 with the rank of professor emerita. Before coming to WVU , she taught for three years at Michigan State University.
Over the years, Blaydes taught undergraduate and graduate students in hundreds of courses, including Shakespeare, Restoration and 18th Century British literature. In addition, she has published three books, dozens of articles, seven edited works and presented more than 30 papers to professional organizations.
During her time at WVU , Blaydes was elected chair of the Faculty Senate. In 1989, she founded the Committee of Retired Faculty, a standing committee of the Faculty Senate that enables faculty retirees to remain connected to the University for mutual benefit. She still serves as program coordinator for Retired and Senior Faculty under the auspices of WVU s Office of Academic Affairs.
From 1993-1995, she was WVU s representative to the Board of Trustees Advisory Council of Faculty, serving as chair from 1998 until her retirement. She also served as faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.
In 1995, she served as the governors delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, and represented WVU on the Folger Institutes executive committee from 1991-1999.
Blaydes served as president of the West Virginia Association of College English Teachers; chaired the West Virginia Shakespeare and Renaissance Association; and was president of the Carolinas Symposium of British Studies.
With a colleague, she began the Literary Discussion Group at Morgantowns Senior Center in 1978. Even after retirement, Blaydes still directs the group that meets regularly to share its love of literature.
She also is a three-time recipient of the WVU English Departments Outstanding Teacher Award.
She earned both her doctorate and masters degree from Indiana University, and her bachelors degree from the University of Rochester.
Blaydes lives in Morgantown with her husband, David. They have two children, Stephanie and Jeffrey.
Known as WVU sFirst Lady of Dance,Wiedebusch retired in 2006 as professor, dance coordinator, artistic director and choreographer of WVU s Orchesis Dance Ensemble after serving the University for 51 years.
A native of Clarksburg, Wiedebusch received her bachelors and masters degrees from WVU and continued her professional dance study in New York City. She began teaching at the University in 1955.
Under her guidance, the dance program grew from a few classes offered in the School of Physical Education to a full-scale innovative dance curriculum in the Division of Theatre and Dance in the College of Creative Arts.
In the 1960s, Wiedebusch also played a pivotal role in creating the Elizabeth Moore Dance Studio, formerly known as the roof garden which has been named and dedicated in her honor.
In 1978, she founded the artist-in-residence program, which has been a major catalyst in the professional development of students studying dance at WVU . Each year, an artist of national reputation has been in residence at WVU to create new work and to teach and inspire students.
During her tenure as artistic director of Orchesis, her choreographies totaled over 150, including eight original ballets in collaboration with WVU artists.
She earned two national awards, one for her commitment to dance at the college/national level and as one of the founding members of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA).
She was appointed to the executive committee for the pilot festival for ACDFA held at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973.
Under her direction, the WVU dance program and the Orchesis Dance Ensemble were instrumental in the development of the West Virginia State Dance Festival.
She has been a promoter of dance and dance education throughout the country, and has received many national and regional honors, among them the West Virginia State Steering Committee for the National Standards for the ArtsGoals 2000, West Virginia Dance Educator of the Year Award (twice in the 1990s), WVU s Outstanding Teacher Award (1991-92), 2006 WVU Alumni Service Award, and induction into the WVU School of Physical Education Hall of Fame (1994). She is listed in Whos Who of American Women 2001 and the Worlds Whos Who of Women in Education in 2000 and in 2006.
She has also been an advocator and director of outreach programs to the public schools in Monongalia County and throughout the state.
Her research emphasis is the London Contemporary Dance Theatre School and Trust and its founder, Robin Howard.
Wiedebusch has a daughter, Carole, and a son, Charles, both of Morgantown.