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109B Science Building

Dr. James Privett,

Professor of Chemistry and Physics


Dr. James E. Privett is Professor of Chemistry and Physics and Chair of the Division of Science, Mathematics and Engineering. He was the Sumter Campus Nominee for the Governor's Professor of the Year Award for 2005-2006 and won the Governor's Professor of the Year award for two-year campuses.


Since Dr. Privett joined the Division of Science, Mathematics and Engineering in the Fall of 1990 as a full-time faculty member in chemistry and physics, he has established an outstanding record in teaching, professional development and service to the campus and the state. His outstanding record is centered on his excellent teaching, which has won him the USC Sumter Student Government Association Teacher of the Year Award at USC Sumter seven times (1990-91, 1991-92, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1998-99, 2001-02, and 2003-04). In addition, he won the Distinguished Teaching Award for South Carolina Regional Campuses twice (1990-91, 1991-92) before it was discontinued after 1992. He was presented with the Hugh T. Stoddard, Sr., Award in 1991 for distinguished services to USC Sumter. In 1994, his outstanding teaching was recognized with a certificate from the South Carolina House of Representatives. In November, 2005, the South Carolina Science Council honored him with the Dori Helms Award which is given to the individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the education of science teachers in the state of South Carolina. In November, 2006 he received the Governor's Professor of the Year Award for two year South Carolina colleges and universities.


Dr. Privett has written a textbook for each course that he teaches. These textbooks were written in a style to help students do a better job of learning the coursework. Each contains key concepts, several examples of problems related to those concepts, and many homework exercises with answers. Opposite each page is a blank page for students to add any notes during class time to aid in their learning. Many students have commented on how valuable these books have been to their education.


In order to get students actively involved in learning, Dr. Privett improved his physics laboratory class by adding a Science Research Project. The project involves a step-wise process over several weeks where the students in consultation with the teacher develop the project idea, gather materials, perform the scientific experiment and gather data, write a research paper, and present the results to the class. At each step the students work closely with the teacher and use a Science Project book to help them plan, carry out the research, and present the results.

Many letters have been received praising Dr. Privett's teaching. For example, Dr. Paul Veach, an Organic Chemistry student and now a practicing physician wrote When I took the Medical College Admissions Test, I received the highest score in chemistry. Dr. Privett taught me chemistry concepts that I had failed to grasp in previous chemistry courses and changed my attitude towards chemistry. Edward P. Rosenthal, another Organic Chemistry student wrote I have never been so thoroughly impressed with an individual's instructional talents. Dr. Privett presents very complex material in a format which is easy to follow and easy to retain. Dr. Elizabeth Griffith, then Assistant Chair of the Department of Chemistry at USC Columbia spoke to Dr. Privett's ability to prepare students for higher level classes when she wrote His transfer students speak highly of his teaching methods and certainly his students are more than competitive with students on the Columbia campus. Dr. Farid Sadik, then Associate Dean of the College of Pharmacy wrote Those students who took Organic Chemistry under Dr. Privett always speak very highly of him and rate him as a top notch teacher; he is caring and interacts well with students in and outside the classroom. His classroom presentations are effective and students find him easy to understand.


Dr. Privett has performed extensive public service through his work with the South Carolina Academy of Science (SCAS), the South Carolina Jr. Academy of Science (SCJAS) and the Middle Elementary School Academy of Science (MESAS). He became the State Judging Coordinator for the South Carolina Jr. Academy of Science in 1992 and served in that role until 2003. He resumed the role of State Judging Coordinator in 2007. As Judging Coordinator for the SCJAS, he has developed a highly qualified program for recognizing outstanding research by high school students in this state. In 1998, Dr. Privett received the Michener Service Award for outstanding service to the SCJAS. In 2001, he received special recognition and a plaque from SCAS for outstanding dedication and service as Judging Coordinator for SCJAS. Dr. Privett was elected to the Board of SCAS and has served in that role for over 12 years. He was elected as Vice President of SCAS in 2003, became President-Elect in 2004, and President in 2005.