Torch Awards honor standard-bearers of university virtues

Nancy Turner, Mores award recipient and former director of the Oglesby Union.

Florida State University has honored four members of the university family with Torch Awards, distinctions named for the three torches in the university’s seal: Artes, symbolizing appreciation of aesthetics and the beauty of intellectual pursuits; Mores, symbolizing respect for customs, character and tradition; and Vires, symbolizing moral, physical and intellectual strength.

This year’s award recipients are Richard Portman (Artes), Fred Standley and Nancy Turner (Mores) and Marie Cowart (Vires).

The Torch Awards were established in 1996 as a way for Florida State faculty to honor friends of the university who have contributed significantly to its ability to fulfill its academic mission. Faculty members make nominations to an awards committee that in turn makes recommendations to the Faculty Senate Steering Committee for approval.

Florida State President Eric J. Barron, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Garnett S. Stokes and Faculty Senate President Gary Tyson presided over a reception, ceremony and dinner Dec. 11. The event in Dodd Hall’s Heritage Museum featured a performance by FSU’s all female a cappella group the AcaBelles.

Stokes presented awards to:


Portman was instrumental in the establishment of a motion picture film school at Florida State and has been a frequent guest lecturer.
His career in the motion picture industry began in the late ’50s when he was a trainee at Columbia Pictures. Portman joined the ranks of sound recording professionals, working for such companies as Samuel Goldwyn Studio, Walt Disney Studios, RCA, Ryder Sound and Ziv Television Studios.
Portman was nominated for an Oscar for best sound on “The Godfather,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Funny Lady” and “On Golden Pond,” among other films. He won the Academy Award for Best Sound for the 1978 film “The Deer Hunter.”
Having an international reputation, Portman consulted for the Irish Industrial Development Authority, the State of Kansas Film Commission and the Belgium Film Institute. He taught at the University of California, Los Angeles as adjunct professor and lectures at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and Television.


Standley has been an integral part of Florida State for 50 years. He is the Daisy Parker Flory Alumni Professor Emeritus in the Department of English where he served as graduate director and department chair.
Standley mentored junior faculty, helped them achieve recognition and taught them to be involved in faculty governance. He has provided service on university committees including the Arts and Sciences dean search committee three times, four presidential selection committees, the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, the University Budget Committee, the Athletic Committee and President Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte’s Commission on the Future.

He helped revise university bylaws and served on the Senate Steering Committee as Senate president for two terms.

Standley served as a special adviser to several FSU presidents. During President Bernard Sliger’s administration Standley headed the Direct Land Acquisition, a movement that changed the structure of the campus in the early 1990s to the tune of $23 million.

Turner is a 1961 and 1977 Florida State graduate. She began her career at FSU in 1968 as the associate director of the Baptist Student Union before joining the Oglesby Union staff in 1971. She served as director of the Oglesby Union from 1979 to 2003 and oversaw major renovations of the administrative building, creation of the Student Activities Center, makeover of the Union Ballrooms and the addition of the Union Food Court and Union Art Gallery.

Under Turner’s leadership and mentorship, the Oglesby Union became one of the foremost unions in the country. Upon her retirement in 2003 the union’s administrative building was named in her honor.

Turner was awarded the Ross Oglesby Award in 2000. She was the recipient of the Women for Florida State University’s inaugural Gift of Wisdom Mentor Award in 2010.

Turner has continued her service to FSU in her retirement as a Heritage docent. She just completed a term as secretary on the Florida State Alumni Association Emeritus Board.


Cowart began her career at Florida State in 1968 in the School of Nursing, ultimately becoming a professor of nursing, professor of urban and regional planning and a member of the Institute on Aging and Public Policy. She served as director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and as dean of the College of Social Sciences.

Cowart is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and the Royal Society of Health. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation and the Governor’s Task Force on Excellence in Nursing Home Care and is a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

She chaired D’Alemberte’s Commission on the Future and later chaired a search committee for the vice president for research. In retirement she has served as president of the Association for Retired Faculty and as a member of its board of directors and as a docent for the President’s House.

In 1993 she and her late husband established the James and Marie Cowart Presidential Scholarship Fund and later the Marie E. Cowart Social Science Scholars Endowment Fund. Within the FSU Foundation she is a member of the Robert Strozier Society in the Presidents Club and a member of the James D. Westcott Legacy Society.