Louisiana State University distinguished professor emeritus wins academic leadership award

November 16, 2020

John W. Day Jr., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, College of the Coast and Environment, at Louisiana State University, was recently honored with the Benton H. Box Award by the Clemson University Institute for Parks in recognition of his academic and instructional leadership.

Benton H. Box Award recipient John W. Day, Jr., Ph.D.

Benton H. Box Award recipient John W. Day, Jr., Ph.D.

The Institute presents the annual awards program, which is named for George B. Hartzog Jr., the seventh director of the National Park Service, to showcase leading figures in the field of conservation. Specific awards were named after visionary leaders that Hartzog respected and admired. Award recipients are following in Hartzog’s footsteps by making significant contributions to the management of parks and preservation of our natural, historical and cultural heritage.

The Benton H. Box Award recognizes academic professionals that exemplify Dr. Box’s distinguished career as an educator and administrator. Day shares this year’s award with Kelly S. Bricker, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at the University of Utah, for leadership in preserving our natural environment and inspiring in students the quest for knowledge and the development of an environmental ethic.

William Conner, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University, said when presenting the award that his academic partnership with Day began in 1973, when Conner became one of his first graduate students. Almost five decades later, they are still working together– a testament to Day’s ongoing commitment to wetlands research and conservation throughout the world.

“During his career, John has always impressed upon his students the importance of wetlands and the impact man and nature has on them,” said Conner. “We’ve come away with an understanding from John that we need to preserve and protect the wetlands for the future generations that are coming behind us, because of all of the important ecosystem services that wetlands provide.”

John W. Day, Jr. began his career at Louisiana State University in 1971 and he has published extensively on the ecology and management of coastal and wetland ecosystems including the Mississippi Delta.  Day worked with noted ecologist Dr. H.T. Odum on his Ph.D. in marine and environmental sciences, which he earned from the University of North Carolina. He was a visiting professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National University of Mexico in 1978-1979, at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands during 1986, at the Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Unversité Claude Bernard in Arles France during 1992-93, and in the Department of Geography at Cambridge University in 2000-2001. He has also worked at the University of Campeche and the Institute of Ecology in Xalapa, Mexico, and studied the impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean’s Venice Lagoon and Po, Rhone and Ebro deltas between 1992 and 2007. 

Day has served as major professor for 70 master’s and doctoral students, written and edited 17 books and monographs, and published over 400 peer-reviewed articles, with his work being cited more than 25,000 times. He has received several awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship for study in France, the Estuarine Research Federation Cronin Award for excellence in teaching in coastal sciences and the National Wetlands Award. He has also served on many panels and committees, including serving as chair of the National Technical Review Committee for the Mississippi delta’s restoration program and its Science and Engineering Special Team, which is focused on restoration efforts, as well as the Scientific Steering Committee of the Future Earth Coasts program, an international coastal science effort. Finally his current work focuses on addressing the impacts of 21st century megatrends on the sustainability of natural and human systems. 

“I can think of no better person for this year’s award,” said Conner. “It’s been my honor to work with John for the last 47 years, and to him I say congratulations.”


Watch William Conner, Ph.D. present the award to John W. Day, Jr. and Day’s acceptance speech.

The Clemson University Institute for Parks (CUIP) provides research, education, training, and outreach that enhances the management of the world’s parks and protected areas. It accomplishes this by providing park and protected area managers with innovative research to support science-based decision-making; and by developing current and future leaders in the park movement by providing interdisciplinary and transformative education and training programs. The Institute currently consists of 35 Fellows and 8 Scholars working on park-related research.

Visit the CUIP website for more information about the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental Awards program and this year’s recipients.