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  • APCG Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have played leading roles in serving our organization, geography students, and geography over the course of many years. A committee of three selects the recipient.

Usually there is only one recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. However, after much discussion, this year the committee decided that two members were especially deserving. This does not represent a splitting of this year’s award; rather, each of the two recipients is a full winner of the award.

Our first recipient is Jim Keese. Jim’s experience in an undergraduate study-abroad program is what opened his eyes to the wider world and led him ultimately into geography. His regional focus has been Latin America, where he has worked with various organizations on a range of economic development projects. He received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona, and after teaching geography and economics in California and working in agriculture-related positions, he became a professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast. Most of his publications have concerned issues of development in Latin America, such as water, volunteer tourism, the value of government decentralization, and the extent to which Ecuador’s montane forest survives on the eastern flank of the Andes.

However, Jim is probably best known for his leadership in providing students with international experiences. He has found that geographers have the background and perspective to be especially effective in helping students understand other countries and the cultural differences that at first confound them. He established a Latin American Studies program at his university and has led students on at least nine study-abroad programs to various countries in Latin America and Spain. Students who participated have reported that these were the best part of their undergraduate education.

For us in the APCG, Jim is very well known for his selfless contributions in a range of activities. For ten years he has been a member of the committee that evaluates student papers for the awards we give each year, and he has served as chair of that committee for several years. Jim also organized our [End Page 90] very successful annual meeting in San Luis Obispo in 2004. In addition, Jim was APCG president in 2011–2012 and is currently our organization’s Webmaster.

For his conscientious and effective service to students, to geography, and especially to our organization, the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers is pleased to present the 2014 Distinguished Service Award to Jim Keese.

Our second recipient is another Californian who obtained graduate degrees from Arizona and then returned to California, receiving his Ph.D. from Arizona State University and becoming a professor of geography at California State University, Sacramento.

Michael Schmandt’s experience and interests range from cultural geography, field methods, and urban landscapes to urban and regional planning, transportation, land use, spatial analysis, and Geographic Information Systems. The many publications and consulting and contract projects completed by Michael reflect many of these topics and skills.

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2014 APCG Distinguished Service Award Recipients Jim Keese (left) and Michael Schmandt (right).

Also, in teaching, aspects of these varied topics can be linked together in the hands of a talented and imaginative instructor, for which Michael has established a strong reputation. One student commented that Michael “is a continual student…always growing more in knowledge about connections or geographic systems.” Another stated that “You will always leave a conversation with [this professor] feeling a little smarter and a lot more confident,” while a third felt that Michael has “the ability…to attract the interest of new geographers and provide direction to the most advanced.” [End Page 91]

However, it is probably in service to the APCG that Michael is best known to us. He edited our twice-a-year newsletter Pacifica for seven years prior to 2005, and when an editor was needed again, he was willing to step in again to edit the fall 2011 and spring 2012 issues. At that time he redesigned and transformed Pacifica into a classy, essentially online publication that for the first time was all...


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