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Biology’s Ken Saladin wins McGuffey textbook award

Dr. Kenneth Saladin, professor of biology, has been honored with a national distinction: The 2017 William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Award for his textbook “Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function,” seventh edition (McGraw-Hill Education).

“Dr. Saladin’s textbook has been a national best-seller for many years and this award is most deserved,” said Dr. Indiren Pillay, chair of biological and environmental sciences. “His use of an engaging writing style to explain complex concepts is what makes his books stand out.”

Saladin was announced a recipient of the McGuffey Award Feb. 22 by the Textbook and Academic Authors Association (TAAA). He will be formally honored at a ceremony in June at Providence, Rhode Island.

“Even though my textbook writing will continue for several more years beyond my classroom teaching, this award is a nice capstone to my 40-year teaching career at Georgia College,” said Saladin, who will retire in May.

“It’s especially gratifying to get this accolade from a committee of peers,” he said. “I don’t know who was on the judging panel, but they are textbook authors in various disciplines, not just in the sciences. It’s nice to feel that they, knowing better than anyone what goes into making a great textbook, perceived mine as deserving one of the year’s top awards.”

The award is named for McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, which first appeared in 1836 to build literacy in the United States frontier. The McGuffey primers were in print until 1921.

To qualify for a McGuffey Award, a textbook must be in print for at least 15 years and still be selling. Books are judged on their pedagogy, scholarly content, writing style, art and design. Judges annually recognize an author whose textbook shows excellence that withstands the test of time.

Saladin began writing “Anatomy & Physiology” in 1993. The first edition was published in 1997 and the eighth edition was just released this month. The textbook - which has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Korean - is still being used in Georgia College classrooms as well.

“I get emails from students all over the world - from Cuba and Colombia, to Ghana and Gambia, to Italy and Iraq - thanking me for the clear writing, explanations and illustrations,” Saladin said.

“Some have said that my books, but American textbooks as a rule, are a lot more enjoyable than textbooks by European and Asian authors, who seem only to want to get the facts on the page but pay little attention to trying to make it comprehensible to undergraduate readers,” he said.

Writing style is what turns a textbook into an effective learning tool, Saladin said. Vibrant, clear art and digital adaptive-learning media are also important.

“Of course, it is also necessary to keep the science updated,” he said, “which is where much of my effort goes in between new editions. The human body doesn’t change in three years, but our understanding of it sure does, and therein lies the challenge of keeping a textbook current and relevant.” 
Saladin has also authored two other McGraw-Hill college textbooks: “Human Anatomy,” in its fifth edition, and “Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology” with Robin McFarland, just released in its second edition.

“Over the past 40 years, Dr. Saladin has been a great example of the excellence in teaching and learning that we value here at Georgia College,” Pillay said, “and he will sorely be missed when he retires at the end of the year.”

Brittiny Johnson
Director of Public Affairs
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