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Dr. Lee Gillis earns ‘Distinguished Researcher Award’

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November 08, 2012

Lee GillisLee GillisDr. Lee Gillis, chair and professor in Georgia College’s Department of Psychological Science, earned this year’s Distinguished Researcher Award from the Association for Experiential Education (AEE).

The award recognizes exemplary and long-standing research productivity and visibility in the fields of experiential education.

AEE presented the award to Gillis during its 40th annual international conference in Madison, Wis., this month.

“To be honored by my colleagues from the many disciplines that belong to AEE — educators, recreators, consultants and mental health practitioners — is humbling,” said Gillis. “Nearly all of my research conducted since arriving at Georgia College in 1986 has in some shape or form involved adventure therapy, which is one of the many fields of experiential education represented in AEE.”

The award is Gillis' second academic recognition for this year. He also earned the 2012 President’s Award for Meritorious Service for his work with the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy, a division of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Michael Gass, professor and coordinator of the Outdoor Education Program at the University of New Hampshire, has worked with Gillis on more than 30 research projects since 1985.

Earlier this year, the two professors, along with Dr. Keith Russell of Western Washington University, co-wrote a book titled “Adventure Therapy: Theory, Research and Practice.”

“Dr. Gillis’ research is rigorous, thoroughly investigated and carefully crafted,” said Gass, “but probably the most important quality that separates Dr. Gillis is the manner he treats his colleagues and students in the research process. He treats them with the utmost level of respect and value. In the process and end result of his work, he makes sure those who are researched grow as people, becoming healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous and empowered leaders in their communities.”

During 1977, Gillis wrote his first research paper on the history of outdoor education while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina.

He earned a master’s degree in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and doctorate in counseling psychology from The University of Georgia.

He developed his curiosity in adventure therapy, assisting young people.

Shortly after arriving at Georgia College during 1986, he began more than 26 years worth of research, practice and supervision in group dynamics and group counseling.

“I have had the honor of writing with some of the leading authors in the field,” said Gillis,” and mentoring budding undergraduate and graduate students from all around the world.”

AEE is a nonprofit, professional membership association dedicated to experiential education and the students, educators and practitioners who use its philosophy and methodology. It is an international community of adventure educators and learners, providing a venue to engage in direct experience and reflection.

Visit to learn more about AEE.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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