Scholarship Established to Honor Dr. George Treadwell

by Billy Chandler

Dr. George Treadwell came to Emory & Henry in 1970 to teach biology, and across the many years of his career in Emory he made many impacts. But perhaps none as vivid or lasting as the influence he had on E&H alumnus Dr. John Joyce (Class of 1972).

John says when he came to Emory & Henry from Lee County no one at his high school explained to him that he could ask for money through the college. He had to borrow money to pay for school, and in the end simply found it too expensive and difficult to manage financially. He started the process for transferring to Clinch Valley College (now UVA-Wise), but he was encouraged to chat with the financial aid office before solidifying that plan. It was a conversation that changed his life.

“They fully funded me, so I stayed.” As part of his student work-study, he spent a year working in the recreation center (“I learned to shoot pool that year!”) and then he spent 2 years working alongside Dr. Treadwell as an assistant. He typed up notes, helped in the greenhouse, learned a lot about botany, and got to be good friends with Dr. Treadwell.

Along the way, botany really got into John’s system. He says he always enjoyed plants, but he found Dr. Treadwell to be such a terrific teacher that it really cemented his love of plants. “I was always haphazard in my approach! But George was so logical. He has a sweet and almost comical disposition that we just don’t always get to see in the classroom – and it made him an effective teacher.”

This passion for plants follows John still. Now retired from his work as a family physician, he has extra time for his extracurricular activities – like teaching botany through his local Master Gardeners chapter, ridding local parks of invasive species, and planting native trees and plants in public spaces.

John began his career as a teacher of biology and chemistry, and even taught for a summer at Emory & Henry – no doubt nominated for the job by his former academic mentor. He finished med school at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1987 and loved being a physician. But his involvement with botany has always been part of his life.

“Sometimes people get a degree in something without learning other things. A liberal arts school like Emory & Henry gives you so much more.”

Still grateful for the financial help he received as a student, and still enjoying all that he learned about plants and botany from his professor, John has recently made a gift to the College that will express his gratitude in a tangible manner.

The George E. Treadwell, Jr. Scholarship will benefit E&H students pursuing study in the sciences. He is happy to think of it helping other students who need financial assistance like he did. And he is especially happy that it will honor his teacher, mentor, and friend. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for George. He is the sweetest person on earth, and a great teacher.”

Note: Dr. George E. Treadwell, Jr. served as a professor of biology at Emory & Henry beginning in 1970 until his retirement in 2007. He received his M.S. degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University, and his Ph.D. in plant physiology and biochemistry from Iowa State. Dr. Treadwell has received the Exemplary Teaching Award from the United Methodist Church, the Burroughs Wellcome Fellowship, the McConnell Faculty Grant from Emory & Henry, the Excellence in Teaching Award, the Maiden Award for Leadership from Emory & Henry, and the James A. Davis Faculty Award from the E&H Alumni Association in 2006. 

When informed of this scholarship, Dr. Treadwell was humbled by the honor, and praised his friend for the help it would offer students. “I think it’s great that he is offering financial support to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a college education.”

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