December 6, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. Greg Harrell Earns Blazer Creed Awards for Civility and Integrity

Dr. Greg Harrell, a professor in Valdosta State University's Department of Mathematics, earned The Blazer Creed Award for Civility and The Blazer Creed Award for Integrity. He is pictured with Dr. Robert T. Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, university president; and Heidi Cox, director of the Office of Internal Audit.

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently recognized an elite group of students, faculty, and staff for their steadfast commitment to uphold The Blazer Creed in everything they do — and Dr. Greg Harrell, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, was one of them.

As The Blazer Creed states, VSU is a learning environment based on trust and mutual respect, in which open dialogue, vigorous debate, and the free exchange of ideas are welcome. The university is dedicated to the core values of community, including a commitment to practice the following:

Civility — A Blazer shows courtesy and compassion as well as respect for the dignity of every human being.

Integrity — Each Blazer is responsible for his or her own actions, and our community is stronger when we contemplate the context of our decisions and uphold the principles of trust and honesty.

Citizenship — Every Blazer has an interest in the wellbeing of the community and, therefore, a duty to stay informed, to make positive contributions, and to offer support to those who need help.

Harrell, who joined the VSU faculty in 1991, exemplifies what it means to be a Blazer, to treat others with good manners, to act with honesty and have strong moral principles, and to work hard and help others.  

VSU News: You were honored with The Blazer Creed Award for Civility. Why is it important to have this character trait, and what role does it play in modern society? 

Harrell: When we think of civility, we oftentimes think of manners. Manners are important for all of us because they lubricate the engine that drives our day-to-day interactions with others. They are a friction-reducing element. But civility is much more than manners. Civility includes a consistent valuing of other people, a sense of selflessness that allows us to place how we treat others at the forefront of our thoughts each day.

When we value other people, we treat everyone with dignity and respect. This does not mean that everything we say is pleasing to others. We can disagree with others, but our words are seasoned with caring and kindness. We give others room to grow and are gracious when they make mistakes.

Civility is important because it promotes a strong and relationally healthy society. When others see that we are listening, not being selfish, and striving to better understand them or act on their behalf, they feel respected and appreciated. When we know that our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas are going to be met with respect, then we can have open and honest conversations with others. Being part of a civil society allows us all to grow and thrive.

VSU News: You were also honored with The Blazer Creed Award for Integrity. Why is it important to have this character trait, and what role does it play in modern society? 

Harrell: In my view, to act with integrity means to be honest, dependable, and trustworthy, to behave with honor even when no one is looking. We take responsibility, oftentimes in a proactive way, admit our mistakes, and strive to make things right. We give credit where credit is due, and don’t get ahead at the expense of others. We are loyal and keep our promises.

These character traits are important in society because they create a community of trust. The employer can trust the employee will provide an honest day’s work. The student can trust his or her hard work will be honored and they will be treated fairly by the professor. The professor can trust the students to do their own work. Trust builds teamwork, promotes a sense of fairness, and motivates us in our work and in our relationships. Most of what we do is based on a sense of trust. Without trust, we cannot have a mentally healthy and vibrant society.



The Blazer Creed Awards Program is part of VSU’s annual recognition of Ethics Awareness Week.

VSU is committed to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct. This contributes to the university’s success in promoting a culture of excellence, one that fosters student success in and out of the classroom, cultivates an inclusive environment, impacts regional progress across South Georgia, and sustains the institution for generations to come.

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