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McKinneys receive Neil Miner Award

McKinneys_t.jpgBOONE – The National Association of Geoscience Teachers recently presented its highest geoscience teaching award, the Neil Miner Award, to Appalachian State University’s Marjorie J. McKinney and her late husband, Dr. F. Kenneth “Ken” McKinney, for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences.

The late professor emeritus Ken McKinney and his wife Marjorie McKinney.jpgThe late professor emeritus Ken McKinney and his wife Marjorie McKinney received the Neil Miner Award, a lifetime achievement award presented by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

The lifetime achievement award was presented at the national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis this fall. The McKinneys were selected for “their years of generous support of many students in the field of paleontology, as well as in other geoscience fields through teaching,” according to the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

The Neil Miner Award has been presented each year since 1953 and commemorates the late geologist and teacher Neil Miner’s concern for personal excellence and effective teaching. His ideals, his notably unselfish outlook on life, and his personal philosophy inspired his fellow teachers as well as his students.

Professor emeritus Ken McKinney passed away in April 2011. He taught at Appalachian for 30 years, from 1968-1998, and was an internationally known researcher and prolific publisher of scholarly materials. His wife is retired laboratories manager/technician in the Department of Geology and initiated the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum, named in honor of the couple.

Ken McKinney was a founding member of the Department of Geology. He was also among Appalachian’s leaders who developed a culture of scholarship and expanded the university’s broader academic culture, including student participation in research. In addition to contributions in the classroom, he was influential in organizing the University Performing Arts Series, an interdisciplinary lecture series, and international studies. Colleagues remember him as having demonstrated through his own educational and professional choices that the best educators are those who engage in life-long education, who create new knowledge through original research, and who encourage students to participate in that experience. His work was supported by research grants from the National Science Foundation, and he was named a Fulbright Scholar in the early 1990s and North Carolina’s Outstanding Scientist in 1984.

Marjorie McKinney taught labs and volunteered in the Department of Geology before her 18-year career as lab manager and technician. She also led workshops for public school teachers and students in the geosciences. She illustrated A Laboratory Manual in Invertebrate Paleontology, authored by her husband, and published several professional papers, some of which were coauthored with her husband.

In its online tribute to the couple, the Department of Geology’s said the McKinneys met as undergraduates and supported each other “in a shared, life-long love of paleontology, geology, culture, music, and fellowship with friends, colleagues and family.”

Appalachian’s McKinney Geology Teaching Museum was established in 1998 to supplement classroom teaching. The museum provides exhibits used in teaching college-level geology courses and conducts outreach to help teachers, school groups, and the general public better understand geologic processes and contemporary geologic events. It is located inside Rankin Science South and includes an outdoor rock garden and laboratory. Learn more at

To commemorate Ken McKinney’s contributions to paleontology and to the Department of Geology at Appalachian, the McKinney Paleontology Scholarship Fund has been established. Donations can be sent to the Department of Geology with this designation. More information about the McKinneys can be found at